Stained glass in Ely Cathedral depicting the Last Supper
Wadham College Chapel
Cupola of Ely Cathedral
Ely Cathedral stained glass depicting the Ark
Christ Church Cathedral
From a base in Cambridge, explore some of the country’s finest stained glass across a range of privileged visits to churches, college chapels and cathedrals
Enjoy excursions to Oxford, Norwich and Bury St Edmunds to view important stained glass from the medieval era onwards
Gain insights into the processes and techniques involved in stained glass production at Ely’s Stained Glass Museum and Cathedral
“Remarkable detailed knowledge of all aspects, clearly communicated in such a way as encouraged us to think all round the subject”
- ACE customer on the 2022 Stained Glass in England: Style, Technique & Colour with Alex Koller
Stained glass might be described as a niche, yet highly significant, genre within the field of decorative painting. Despite its rarity, fragility and technical limitations, stained glass has received a great deal of attention from church visitors and scholars, and it is appreciated for a wealth of reasons: not least its abstract qualities, the technical mastery involved in its creation, and its perceived spiritual values. Even the term ‘stained glass’ is itself complex, raising questions of design and technique – being opposed to ‘painted glass’, as is often assumed.
Fundamental questions revolving around the making of ‘picture windows’ will be addressed during this tour, as we visit a selection of places boasting significant examples of the art form. Foremost among them is King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, one of the most superlative examples of Renaissance glass, not only in England but anywhere in Europe.
Oxford, by contrast, features some important medieval glass, but also benefitted from a period of active patronage during the 17th century ‘Beauty of Holiness’ movement. The great west windows of the chapels of New College and Magdalen College rank among the most daring experiments in the genre in the post-medieval world.
Survival is an issue that surfaces in the context of continental glass that was taken to England during the iconoclasm of the French Revolution and its aftermath: examples will be studied at the cathedral in Bury St Edmunds and in Hingham, Norfolk.
The 19th century revival of what are still widely regarded as the true principles of stained glass design can be appreciated in the contrast between one of the most complete medieval schemes of glazing at St Peter Mancroft in Norwich, and the Victorian windows of the Catholic cathedral in the same city. Meanwhile, later developments in stained glass design are evident at Jesus College and All Saints’ Church in Cambridge.
The Stained Glass Museum in Ely provides insights into the history and technique of the making of stained glass windows. The fact that this museum is housed in a building where the effects of post-Reformation iconoclasm, which accounted for the loss of so much of this fragile art, are still visible, is a particularly poignant reminder of the changing fortunes of the art form in England.
This tour will be based in the heart of Cambridge at the four-star Hotel du Vin, a stylish and comfortable hotel set in a former university building.
This tour will be led by art historian Alex Koller, PhD, an experienced ACE Tour Director who has studied in Vienna, Salzburg and Cambridge. Alex completed his PhD on the subject of stained glass at Magdalene College, Cambridge, where he also lectured and supervised.