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Glazing in Places of Worship

England’s legacy of stained glass, both medieval and post-medieval, is among the best of its kind in Europe. Whether plain or decorative, window glass often has important artistic, historic or associative value.

If your place of worship has stained or historic glass, it will have an impact on the appearance of the interior and light quality and it can contribute to the overall significance of the building.

Image of the stained glass window in the church of St Neot in Cornwall.
A stained glass window in the church of St Neot in Cornwall. © Chris Timms

Caring for historic glass

We strongly encourage you to keep windows of interest wherever possible. We advise you not to remove individual elements from larger compositions, for example figurative elements which are designed to be seen within a decorative setting. If you are re-using windows from elsewhere, we recommend that you place them in openings of closely matching dimensions.

For very important windows, consider environmental protective glazing (isothermal protection). You'll need to weigh the desirability of protecting this glass against the visual and physical impact of this technique on the building’s historic character and appearance.

For protection of historic glass, see our page about security.

Repairing historic glass

When considering repair of historic glass or surrounding stonework, we strongly encourage that you consult your Inspecting Architect and specialist conservators.

Common issues which may need repair are: cracked panes, leaking cemented edges and bowed windows where the weight of the glass is no longer equally distributed by failing ferramenta (iron elements). Minor repairs and careful cleaning by a conservation specialist can ensure its long-term future. These can also make a large difference to the look of the glass and its contribution to a space.

New stained glass

If you are adding new stained glass windows, you must first assess the existing glazing (which may be notable for the lack of stained glass), the fabric to be removed (glass, lead, ironwork) and the artistic merits of the new glass.

Your denominational body may have stained glass consultants who you can ask for advice.

If you're making alterations to a listed building, you may need to get permission from your local authority or denominational body.

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