Not long after the window’s refurbishment in 2015, on Saturday 25 June 2016, lightning hit an area of the garden, close to the back of the Chapel, making holes in eight of the stained glass panels and creating a further ten areas of significant damage.
Following the lightning strike, Wadham staff collected as many of the glass fragments as possible. These, along with the damaged sections of the window, were transported to the York Glaziers Trust studio in York for repair.
Fortunately, the York Glaziers Trust had carried out an extensive survey of the College stained glass prior to their restoration work, so have been able to work from detailed photographic images of the original glass panes while carrying out the repairs.
However with some panels shattered into more than 100 fragments, many of them extremely small, the repair work has been pain-staking. Fragments were identified and pieced together like an intricate jigsaw puzzle by the York conservators.
The conservators have taken the opportunity to remove some leading from previous repairs in order to restore the glass to its former glory. Matching paint colours to the originals has also been challenging as the detail in the glass means some pieces need to be fired several times, with each firing affecting colour.
History of the Wadham Chapel's East Window
The East Window comprises five lights and twenty-three tracery openings. The subject matter of the window is a typological Passion Cycle, with the New Testament Antitypes in the main lights, and the Old Testament Types in the tracery.
The window is a masterpiece by Bernard van Linge, a member of a family of glaziers from Emden in East Freisland. Bernard moved to London in 1621, and worked for glazier Thomas Langton, who recommended him to the warden and fellows of Wadham College. This resulted in the East Window, made for the Foundress Dorothy Wadham, and dating to 1622. Van Linge returned to Emden the following year, shortly after his brother Abraham had joined him in England.
Abraham’s output in England was more extensive than his brother’s, and he produced a number of windows for various Oxford Colleges, including Lincoln (1629-31), Christ Church (1630’s), Queen’s (1635) and Balliol (1637).
The Wadham East Window is particularly significant on account of its masterful handling of design and materials. Bernard’s limited output in England renders it even more valuable, considering its rarity.
(© York Glaziers Trust 2016)