Divine Beauty: restoring Birmingham Cathedral's stained glass treasures

Divine Beauty: restoring Birmingham Cathedral's stained glass treasures

Detail from a Burne-Jones stained glass window at Birmingham Cathedral showing figures
Detail from a Burne-Jones stained glass window at Birmingham Cathedral. Credit: Birmingham Cathedral.

National Lottery Grants for Heritage – £250,000 to £5million

Date awarded
Location
Ladywood
Local Authority
Birmingham
Applicant
Birmingham Cathedral
Award Given
£808492
Innovative methods of engaging visitors have complemented the restoration of a stunning set of stained glass windows by Birmingham-born Pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Burne-Jones.

Led by expert conservators from Holy Well Glass, the four windows have been cleaned and repaired and protective grilles have been installed on the cathedral’s exterior. The success of this work ensures these Victorian masterpieces will be preserved for generations to come.

Stained glass windows inside a cathedral
The Burne-Jones windows were installed between 1885 and 1897. Credit: Birmingham Cathedral.

 

An integral part of the Divine Beauty project was an activity programme and multimedia interpretation to engage existing and new audiences with the windows. Free scaffolding tours, school workshops, graffiti street art inspired by the windows, and public drop-in sessions with the conservation team offered unique opportunities to get up close to the restoration process.

But the public weren’t the only ones who got within touching distance of the panels. Our funding has also enabled three students to gain valuable skills from participating in the conservation work.

a conservator works on restoring a stained glass window
The windows were conserved in situ and in the conservator's workshop. Credit: Birmingham Cathedral.

 

Knowledge-sharing is another valuable legacy of the project, as Birmingham Cathedral are planning to share what they learned in the course of restoring their Victorian glass with other churches and cathedrals.

Anna Pitt, CEO at Birmingham Cathedral, said: “Over 3,000 people have experienced the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of getting onto our scaffolding and seeing our windows up close during their conservation. Around a third of visitors had never been into the cathedral before, which really shows how the windows can capture the imagination of so many new people.”

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