A Church Renovation That Started A Stained Glass Tradition

When you think of old churches like St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh, Scotland you probably think of towering stained glass windows that are centuries upon centuries old.  However, although Saint Giles Cathedral has been a religious center for nearly 900 years, the windows as it turns out are a little less than 200 years old dating back to the later part of the 19th century.  The reason for this is because Presbyterian churches only had clear glass windows since the reformation.  Stained glass, as it turns out, they held in poor or suspicious regard and as a form of idolatry. When  William Chambers set out to restore the St Giles Cathedral in the 1870s and 80s. he was determined to put stained glass again where only small fragments from the middle ages still survived when he restored the Cathedral.  By this point in history the Presbyterian objections had gradually faded away so James Ballantine (who had gained wide publicity when he won a national competition to design some of the stained glass windows for the new Houses of Parliament at Westminster and Chambers) was commissioned  to create nine new windows for the Cathedral chancel, illustrating the life of Christ The well-known artist Robert Herdman was an advisory on the design and the stained glass windows were paid for by a series of donors.  The focal point of the series is The Great East Window, donated by Lord Provost of Edinburgh, Sir James Falshaw.    

The St Giles Stained Glass Tradition Lives On

Happily, even after the death of Chambers, the Cathedral Managing Board continued to commission new works of stained glass art for the cathedral of mostly biblical scenes.  Today such gorgeous works are renowned around the world and include noteworthy stained glass windows like North Window, Warden Children Memorial Window and blue glass porch at the West Door.  If not for the persistence of William Chambers, these works of art and the full restoration of this chapel may have never come to fruition.  

At Church Stained Glass Restoration we are carrying on the tradition of preserving stained glass much like William Chambers.  We believe the stained glass is something worth saving and restoring whenever possible and would love to consult with you on your church’s stained glass restoration project.  Contact us today for a free inspection of your church’s glass today!

Martin Faith is an expert in the areas of stained glass conservation, preservation, and history. For over thirty years, he has been working as a stained glass artisan and restoration expert. Martin grew up studying stained glass in Glasgow, where he began acquiring and salvaging beautiful collectibles made by Scottish artisans. In Glasgow, he learned the critical skills and traditional techniques required for creating the stunning stained glass windows produced by his company today in the United States, where he now resides with his wife and family. Over the years, Martin has consulted on numerous church stained glass restoration projects throughout the nation, ranging in size and complexity. Martin and his team have successfully repaired hundreds of religious stained glass windows, including those belonging to churches, cathedrals, temples, and synagogues as well as all religious denominations. He has overseen over 50,000 projects in total and is one of the most accomplished professionals in the industry.