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“Casting a dim religious light”: The stained and painted glass of York Minster, c.1450-1802 - Volumes 1 & 2

“Casting a dim religious light”: The stained and painted glass of York Minster, c.1450-1802 - Volumes 1 & 2
Louise Ann Hampson


Department of History of Art, University of York, York YO10 5DD, UNITED KINGDOM.


This thesis investigates the glass history of the stained and painted glass in the windows of York Minster c.1450-1802. It sets the largely post-Reformation story of the windows into the broader historical context of York and cathedrals more widely, and of the survival of the craft of glass-painting in the post-Reformation period. It uses the archives and manuscripts of the Dean and Chapter of York, in conjunction with antiquarian studies and the physical evidence of the extant glass, to explore how and why so much medieval glass has survived in York and to investigate the origins of York’s claim to be a ‘treasure-house’ of medieval stained glass. Three key themes are explored in the course of this work. First, a reassessment of the craft practice and skills base of glaziers and glass-painters and the continuity of workshops in the period studied, with particular emphasis on the sixteenth and seventeenth-centuries. Second, the question of patronage and how this was manifest, both in terms of the craftsmen and their business models and with regard to the care of the existing glass. A broader definition of patronage emerges, one which goes beyond conventional ideas of artist and patron into the relationships between the Deans, their Chapters and the craftsmen. Third, a consideration of how the glass was thought of, valued and written about. This focuses on the work of seventeenth-century antiquarian James Torre and the publications by Drake and Gent which followed his pioneering work. It also explores the reception and perception of the Minster generally and the intellectual and cultural influences operating within York itself and society more widely. This thesis demonstrates how the undertaking of close and detailed analysis of the archival and other documentary records alongside the surviving glass of a single cathedral can produce new insights and understanding. These themes set out a new methodology for approaching the comprehensive contextual study of the glass history of other cathedrals and create a better understanding of glass-painting in England in the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries.