Sixteenth-Century East Window Conserved and Reinstated at Balliol College, Oxford

5 April 2019


The chapel at Balliol College, Oxford, contains artworks of the highest significance. Included in this is its sixteenth-century east window (c.1529). This stained glass has been carefully conserved by the York Glaziers Trust, after a survey conducted by them in 2017 observed the deteriorating state of the window's paint and enamel.

The majority of this glass was originally set into the East Window of the previous chapel, which stood on this site between c.1525-1856, but was removed when the current chapel was built to the designs of noted Victorian architect, William Butterfield, in 1857. The window was divided and moved to fill various other windows in the chapel and the library, and a new east window by William Wailes was installed. However, in 1912, the Wailes window was removed, and the former sixteenth-century east window was gathered from its respective locations in the college and reinstated to its original position as the chapel's east window. The window depicts scenes from the Passion, Resurrection and Ascension of Christ, and the style of painting has been compared to that produced by James Nicholson, a Netherlandish glazier of some repute who operated largely from locations in and around the Southwark area of London from the 1520s onwards. An indenture of 1526 confirms that Nicholson was one of three appointed glaziers working at King's College Chapel, Cambridge, 1526-31. He is also credited with having produced the vidimus for the east window of Hampton Court Chapel, founded by Lord Chancellor of England and chief advisor to King Henry VIII, Cardinal Thomas Wolsey (1473-1530). Nicholson was also employed at another Cardinal Wolsey foundation, Cardinal College (later renamed Christ Church), Oxford, c.1528.

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