Wells Cathedral Jesse Tree Window


Jesse Tree Window, Wells Cathedral, Wells, Somerset.

Conservation and cleaning of this majestic 14th century window: a major work of medieval art. The extended and highly complex project involved the cleaning and conservation of the glass, and the design, manufacture and installation of a new internally ventilated Environmental Protective Glazing System (EPG) to all main lights and traceries. Following multiple trials  the most aesthetically sympathetic and appropriate solution was found. A one year period of in-situ environmental monitoring of the window was carried out before conservation, and further environmental monitoring of the window was carried out after conservation treatment.

A five year programme of works carried out by Holy Well Glass to conserve the window. The original 19th and 20th century lead was sound, therefore it was not necessary to dismantle the individual panels as part of the repair programme. The glass was cleaned within the leads. However, new bronze perimeter frames for each stained glass panel were made to ensure long-term stability. These frames incorporate beautifully crafted additional support bars, which follow the design forms and are therefore invisible after re- installation.  The lead matrix was investigated as an integral element of the history of the artefact, by exposing mill marks in the heart of the lead, which were recorded photographically and with scale drawings. These records were then cross- referenced with the known restoration history of the window in the cathedral archive. The results were mapped diagrammatically, allowing a definitive summary of the restoration cycles of the window to be formed.

Comprising 7 lights and accompanying tracery this beautiful window is a rare survival of an intact 14th century Jesse Tree window.   The programme of works was split into two distinct phases; firstly the installation of the protective glazing section, and secondly the repair of the stained glass panels.  A two year period of monitoring, testing and analysis was carried out in the first instance, in order to assess environmental conditions.  Dictated by an ethos of minimal intervention the panels largely retained their 19th and 20th century leadwork, and cleaning was restrained.  Despite this the colour key has been lifted beyond expectation, revealing the beautiful and unusual palette of the glass.  Known locally for generations as ‘The Golden Window’, small areas of intense blue or ruby glass are counterpointed with passages of green and gold, both pot metal yellow and yellow silver stain. The increased legibility of the vine, the Tree itself is very significant, it now leads the eye through the design as originally intended.

Click here to see the Environmental Protective Glazing for this project:-http://www.holywellglass.com/work/wells-cathedral-jesse-window/