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Talk puts shine on historic stained glass windows campaign

PUBLISHED: 11:30 03 February 2020

The stained glass windows at Long Melford church are being restored in an £800,000 project  Picture: LONG MELFORD CHURCH

The stained glass windows at Long Melford church are being restored in an £800,000 project Picture: LONG MELFORD CHURCH

LONG MELFORD CHURCH

The campaign to restore the historic stained glass windows at Long Melford church in Suffolk saw a fundraising talk from the experts about what makes them so unique.

The fundraising evening in Long Melford church raised �1,800 for the stained glass windows appeal. Picture: STEPHEN THOMSONThe fundraising evening in Long Melford church raised �1,800 for the stained glass windows appeal. Picture: STEPHEN THOMSON

Around 100 people attended a reception and presentation in the 15th century church where English Heritage stained glass expert Anna Eavis and Leonie Seliger, who was on the restoration team at Canterbury Cathedral, talked about their work and why the windows at Holy Trinity church are so special.

Simon Edge of the fundraising team said the evening, on Friday January 31, had been a great success, and not just financially.

"Many who attended were aware of the glass windows in the church without neccesarily realising their true significance, but there were actual gasps from some people when it was explained," he said.

The evening raised £1,700 towards the £500,000 target to clean and restore the glass from centuries of grime.

Stained glass expert Leonie Seilger at Long Melford church. Picture: STEPHEN THOMSONStained glass expert Leonie Seilger at Long Melford church. Picture: STEPHEN THOMSON

Windows at the church include eight medieval windows, including a rare Pieta image of the Virgin Mary, which experts say is one of only three so far found in England.

The work, which is expected to take up to five years to complete, will include adding an additional layer of hand-blown, laminate glass to protect it from further corrosion - a delicate process.

Mr Edge said: "You can pull a Roman bottle out of the soil and it will be fine, but medieval glass was made very differently and is much less durable.

Holy Trinity church at Long Melford. Picture: MIKE PAGEHoly Trinity church at Long Melford. Picture: MIKE PAGE

"It is very fragile, and the restoration work needs to be done - once organisms or mould start growing on it because of things like damp, it eats through."

The windows are precious because as much as 90% of stained glass in the country's churches were destroyed in the Reformation and during the English Civil War.

The Long Melford windows only survived because their original position in the church was so high they were difficult to reach, and because the figures they depicted were real people as opposed to religious icons.

One of those pictured was local wool tycoon John Clopton, and last year one of his descendants who lives in America gave a generous donation towards the £800,000 total cost of the restoration project.

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