interior view of a cathedral church showing stained glass windows
Clerestory Exeter Cathedral © Acanthus Clews Architects
Clerestory Exeter Cathedral © Acanthus Clews Architects

Looking After Stained Glass Windows

As well as being works of art in their own right, stained glass windows are critical to the appreciation of any building fortunate enough to be decorated with them. They can also tell historians a great deal about a building’s history, such as information about former patrons or past uses.

Because stained-glass windows are part of the building envelope (which separates the internal and external environments), they are uniquely vulnerable to environmental deterioration. On the exterior, rainfall, wind and pollution can cause structural and chemical deterioration of the glass and the leading; on the interior, condensation can cause irreversible loss of paint and other applied decoration.

Historic England Guidance

Historic England has published guidance to help custodians make informed decisions about care and repair of stained glass windows.

We have also produced a checklist and flowchart to provide guidance to building professionals who do not have experience in assessing stained glass windows, but have been asked to undertake a basic survey.

You can read an article about Dealing with Environmental Deterioration of Stained Glass.  

If you are interested in EPG, you may also wish to read the report describing Historic England’s research: Historic England Research Report 43/2017, Conserving Stained Glass Using Environmental Protective Glazing

Learn more

View the 2020 webinar on Conserving stained glass with environmental protective glazing.

Stained glass windows are one of the most beautiful and significant components of historic buildings, but they also serve a very practical role in keeping out the weather, which makes them vulnerable to decay from wind, rain and condensation. This webinar looked at ways of dealing with environmental deterioration of stained glass, and reported on the findings of recent Historic England research into the benefits of environmental protective glazing.