Stained Glass - Art at the Glass Surface
Cambridge - Monday 4th and
Tuesday 5th September 2017
article posted 17 May 2016
Chris Chesney established Iona Art Glass in 1986 and built the foundations for the firm that thrives today. Allison Milligan joined the firm in 1997 having studied with
Douglas Hogg FMGP at Edinburgh College of Art. Chris was chair of the ICON Stained Glass section for many years and was instrumental in setting up Master Classes for fellow
conservators. He serves ICON as an assessor for the PACR Accreditation Scheme and is also a mentor for the scheme. He has presented at ICON conferences and is welcomed as a
guest lecturer at conservation societies in the North East of England. He is a technical advisor to the DAC of Newcastle and Durham Diocese.
He has previously presented at the Corpus Vitrearum event in Namur.
Comparisons in the degradation in surface decoration in Lord Gortís Stained glass collection at Hamsterley Hall Co. Durham
Chris Chesney* ACR, Allison Milligan BA (hons)
Lord Gort acquired a considerable collection of stained glass dating mainly from the 17th Century and altered the building at Hamsterley Hall, a beautiful Georgian building,
in the 1930ís to accommodate his newly acquired collection. He removed many of the origin timber double hung sash windows, altered the stone apertures and installed gothic style stone
transom and mullion windows to take the stained glass. From our work on the glass we have found that at that time the panels were repaired and fitted into backgrounds of tinted cylinder
glass. There is evidence of prior repairs and inconsiderate insertions that will be illustrated in the presentation. It should be mentioned that Lord Gort was a bit of a character as
the front lawn sports a pinnacle from the Houses of Parliament that he reportedly won in a card game! The property changed hands and eventually fell into disrepair in the early part of
this century. By 2010 it could be considered derelict. Miraculously almost all the glass survived despite being subjected to freezing conditions, excessive condensation and total neglect.
We were first contacted by the new owner Mr S Spry in 2013 with a view to simply remove the glass while building work was in progress. Mr Spry had a photograph of the house pre Gort and
wished to return the building to its original Georgian character. Having had the agreement of the conservation officer at the local council and English Heritage this was how he intended
to proceed. Although the glass was part of the Grade 2* listing it appeared to be secondary to the reinstatement of its Georgian splendour. Lord Gort had make it look more like a folly
than a stately home. However, the intention was to re-site the glass somehow within the building. All went quiet until a main contractor was appointed in 2014 with the glass being
entrusted to us at Iona Art Glass for conservation in phases. The collection consists of a number of painted monochrome rectangular quarries, enamelled quarries and roundels we believe
to be Flemish and several English Heraldic achievements all dating from the 17th century. There are also some other panels containing earlier glass with 19th and 20th century settings
and inserts. The focus to the presentation is on the difference between the condition of the surface decoration both glass paint and enamel as there is significant deterioration on
some yet others are in exceptional condition.