THE BCH ARCHIVE
LOCAL HISTORY FOR
And The Surrounding District
Rare Medieval Stained Glass at Birtsmorton Church
The church of St Thomas of Canterbury with St Peter and St Paul in Birtsmorton boasts some rare and beautiful medieval stained glass. Recognised as being of national historic importance, the fragments show the Christ Child baptising St Christopher and a medieval knight in full armour, kneeling in prayer.
Birtsmorton’s fourteenth and fifteenth century International Style stained glass is particularly notable for its superb quality, the unusual religious imagery and the details of the armour, including the only known English example of a type of continental helmet.
The inclusion of the Ruyhale family arms and a border depicting the letter R suggest the glass may have been donated by the family of Richard Rulhale, lord of Birtsmorton manor, who died in 1408.
Over the centuries the glass has been damaged by acid from lichen. A successful appeal led by Rev Anthea Elston has resulted in a programme of restoration and conservation scheduled for autumn, 2018. Some of the work will be carried out on site; other glass will be removed, temporarily, to the Holy Well Glass workshop in Bath for restoration. Following cleaning, repairing and the addition of protective glazing, the glass will appear once more in its full glory and be protected from damage in the future.
St Thomas of Canterbury with St Peter and St Paul