Cragside, Northumberland: Morris & Co.

19th Century

Cragside, Rothbury, Northumberland.

Condition survey and necessary conservation of the important collection of Morris & Co. stained glass at Cragside- all works carried out at the house allowing visitor interaction and interpretation.

 Cragside is an impressive Gothic style country mansion.  Designed by architect Richard Norman Shaw, it was built in 1863, and further extended between 1869 and 1884. Country home to inventor, industrialist, and armaments manufacturer Lord Armstrong (1810 – 1900), it was the first house in the world to be lit by hydroelectric power.

In assessing the stained glass at Cragside, some sections in the Library were found to be in need of attention. The Library displays a series of poets and scenes from the story of St. George in the upper registers of a bay window, set within 10 stained and leaded lights.  These were designed by Ford Maddox Brown and D G Rosetti. Their designs have been reproduced several times; versions of the Poets survive at Cambridge (Peterhouse), and the St. George series in the V&A collection. Two panels required urgent attention; they were prone to heat build-up in the unventilated interspace between the exterior glazing and the stained glass, thus, they were severely bowed, and some pieces of glass had cracked as a result. One panel showed vertical movement to such an extent that pieces of glass were protruding from the leads. As a consequence the most severely bowed panel was fully releaded and the latter was partially releaded, favouring retention of original lead wherever possible.  An improved system of protective glazing was made for both panels, discreet stainless steel mesh vents were introduced to provide adequate ventilation .

All this work was carried out on-site; after removal the damaged panels were taken to a designated area within the property where a small workshop was set up to allow the public to see the works.  No works were necessary to the other windows, as they were in a good and stable condition.