Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

So Glorious You Might Never Have Known It Was a Huge Botch Job; Window's Restoration Reveals the Victorian 'Fix' That Caused a 120-Year Leak

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

So Glorious You Might Never Have Known It Was a Huge Botch Job; Window's Restoration Reveals the Victorian 'Fix' That Caused a 120-Year Leak

Article excerpt

Byline: David Whetstone

ONE of the region's finest stained glass windows can finally be seen in all its glory in time for Easter - but it nearly didn't make it.

The pounds 50,000 restoration of the west window at St George's Church in Jesmond, Newcastle, revealed an "appalling" botch job made more than a century ago which suggests its survival has been close to a miracle.

The scaffolding came down yesterday in front of the window at St George's, one of only three Victorian or Edwardian Grade I-listed churches in the region.

The vicar, the Rev Dr Nick Chamberlain, said: "The money for the restoration was raised by the congregation, from donations large and small, for which we're very grateful.

"Also by the Friends of St George's, an organisation for people who are interested in supporting the artistic heritage of the church.

"The stonework around the window was also cleaned by a team of volunteers using toothbrushes who put in a huge amount of time, for which we are also very grateful."

Dr Chamberlain said a memory box containing volunteers' names and toothbrushes had been hidden high up in the elaborate stonework.

"It hasn't been cleaned for 100 years so hopefully it won't be found and opened for another 100 years," he said.

The volunteers weren't the only ones pleased to see the scaffolding removed yesterday. Glass restorer Chris Chesney, of Warkworth-based Iona Art Glass, said the 29ft high window had represented a tough challenge because of a late 19th Century change of heart.

He said the window, showing Christ's resurrection with a host of angels, was originally installed in 1888 in the church commissioned by wealthy shipyard owner Charles Mitchell.

But just three years later someone decided that the angels should be rearranged to make the design more symmetrical.

"All they did was turn over the glass at the top of the window, putting the painted surface on to the wrong side," said Mr Chesney.

"This meant that the glass didn't fit all that well so it was full of gaps and cracks and leaked like a sieve. …

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