Last edited 26 Jul 2021

Stained glass


Stained glass is a type of glazing material that is coloured (stained), either by the addition of metallic salts during the manufacturing process, or by having colour applied to its surface and then being fired in a kiln to fuse the colour to the glass.

Stained glass can be used for a wide range of purposes, but it is most commonly found in flat panels in windows. Stained glass windows typically comprise small pieces of coloured glass held in place by a latticed web of lead strips formed within a rigid frame. The pieces are often arranged to create patterns or pictorial representations, often depicting religious iconography.

Stained glass windows are commonly associated with cathedrals, churches, mosques and other important buildings such as libraries and town halls. In England, the use of simple stained glass windows dates back to the 7th century, and by the 12th century they had become a sophisticated art form. However, following the Reformation in the 16th century, when sacred art began to decline in prominence, the craft of manufacturing stained glass began to dwindle.

Historic England 2020 Stained Glass Windows: Managing Environmental Deterioration, Swindon, Historic England, published in 2020 states: ‘Stained glass is not the only means of producing a decorative window; others include etching, engraving or ‘fritting’. One of the most important alternative methods is dalle-de-verre, where thick pieces of glass are set directly into a matrix of resin or concrete. This technique was used to form some of the most dramatic and important stained glass in the periods before and immediately after World War II, but as with all innovative systems, it can sometimes present serious conservation challenges. More tricky still to preserve are windows incorporating fibreglass, or even plastic.’

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