Stained Glass Window Restoration @ Humbie Kirk

This is an example of religous stained glass work on a cathedral or church. This work featured on an exclusive report on BBC News.

This religious stained glass window dates from around the mid-19th century was found in a Mausoleum used by the grave-diggers in the grounds of Humbie Kirk Church, East Lothian. The window had been removed in the 1930’s when the church had been extended and lay neglected for over 80 years. It was in a poor state, covered in dust and bird droppings, and presented quite a challenge for the conservator.

Stage one

The window consisted of four large panels. There was a great deal of individual broken pieces of glass on the window panels in the church. In the case of one panel around 85% of the glass was fractured. Some 10% was completely destroyed. Where at all possible conservation repair is undertaken to maintain the original glass. The broken original glass pieces are painstakingly cleaned and matched carefully together before resin bonding. Where glass is missing new panels are carefully cut in matching glass and painted to match in with the original panel. This stage of the process of conservation takes a great deal of time and patience.

Stage Two

The next part of the restoration process is rebuilding the four main window panels in the cathedral. All the glass pieces are brought together on top of a tracing of the panel design. These glass pieces will include repaired parts of the design, and where necessary new replacement pieces. The individual glass pieces are leaded with new lead cames and the panel is completed.

Stage Three

Once the lead work has been completed the whole panel is soldered together. Following this process leaded light cement is applied over the whole surface working it in between the lead and glass. This cement, when dry, makes a bond between the glass and the lead and gives the panel added strength.

Stage Four

Excess cement is cleaned off and the panel ‘polished’ to complete the restoration process.

The individual glass pieces used in the design of this window are unusually large. This was probably one of the contributory factors that resulted in the great number of stress fractures found on the window panels. The individual panels are also quite large and had to be handled with great care to avoid further damage.

Stage Five

Once completed the Window Panels are carefully packed in purpose built boxes in preparation for transit to the church prior to installation.

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