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St Peter Mancroft Church, overlooking the market, has some splendid medieval stained glass, dating from the middle of the 15th century. In the east window are 42 panels, some of which were pieced together from shattered remains of windows in other parts of the church. In the 17th century, during the Civil War, a stash of gunpowder near Bethel Street caught fire and exploded, causing great damage. Later, what fragments that could be found were put back together. Very much like pique assiette work, they sometimes had to improvise when the original pieces couldn't be found, or where interesting and valuable fragments were incorporated.

stained glass in st peter mancroft

In this first example ("The Babe Blessing the Kings"), the original head of the Virgin Mary was evidently lost. Instead of her usual distinctive face and halo, she has been given a cherub's head borrowed from another panel. To the right there are a disembodied arm and feathered angelic wings mixed into a jumbled background.

stained glass detail

stained glass

In this second panel ("Preaching at Pentecost"), a spare cherub's head appears in the top centre. On either side there are hands that form part of collage of spare pieces of glass.

stained glass

These photographs appear by kind permission of St Peter Mancroft Church Office.

More pictures of St Peter Mancroft

A similar thing has happened at the Church of St John the Baptist, Maddermarket. The medieval glass was destroyed by a gas explosion inside the church in 1876. Fragments were gathered up and collaged together in the central window on the north of the aisle.

For more re-used medieval glass, collaged together after the Civil War, see Winchester Cathedral

For comprehensive information on stained glass history, see Art History with Michelli

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