How strange to think how we can work collaboratively with our continental neighbours to produce beautiful works which will last hundreds of years and please the eyes of many, then in the blink of an eye be killing each other.
Nothing displays this stupidity more than seeing the windows I posted about in the oldest building in Northamptonshire that were produced by a German company who used English and German craftsmen , those Englishmen had to leave Germany at the onset of WW1 having worked alongside their German colleagues to produce such beautiful windows full of colour and intricate detail.
In my last post I included some pictures of some of the magnificent stained glass windows in the church of the Holy Sepulchre, and I mentioned that I was told by my guide on the day I visited the church that three of the windows were made in Germany.
This piqued my interest and I did some research on the web and found that the Jaffa Window had been produced by a German company called Franz Mayer based in Munich, so I searched for their contact details and having found them sent off a short email asking what they knew about the window and if they could provide me with any more information about its history.
To be honest I didn't expect a quick reply but I was pleased to receive a really detailed email back from a gentleman named Walter who not only provided lots of background info about the company but also kindly looked back at their records and came up with an interesting find.
This is an extract from his email -
"Unfortunately, most of our old files were destroyed in 1944 by bombs and fire. We could save only a few books with photos of our windows and lists showing the churches with our stained glass windows, which however are not complete, and a few "shipping books". In these books we have pictures of windows and designs-sketches but they are only signed with the order number and not place or name of the church. As almost all order files were destroyed, it's difficult to find the works.
Since some years we are relocating our worldwide works using some old shipping books and other information´s and we have compiled an List of Orders which is very detailed but still incomplete. In this List of Orders I found the following information:
Windows for Northampton UK:
Holy Sepulchre’s Church
3-light window, Justice, Faith, Fortitude
Jan. 28, 1899 Order no. 2353 Capt. Graham
2 windows, Madonna with Child, St. Joseph
Feb. 28, 1891 Order no. 1359
St. John Baptist R. C. Church
4 lights, Richard Lionheart in the battle at Jaffa A.D. 1192
Oct. 30, 1882 Order no. 444
The Jaffa Window is described in our list as a window for the St. John Baptist RC Church.
So this could be a mistake in their records or something more interesting may lie behind it, a great shame that the records were destroyed, but with the web maybe they can be reconstructed to a certain extent.
If you know of any windows in a church local to you which you believe to be made by Franz Mayer please let me know and I will pass that information onto the company.
This morning I received this from David Parish the guide that showed me round the church, in relation to the Jaffa Window seen above.
"The stained glass window in 4 parts containing a scene from the battle of Jaffa 1192 On the second panel from the left hand side the image of Richard Coeur de Lion, on the fourth panel the image of Saladin the Ottoman king surrounded by Crusader and Ottoman soldiers. Jaffa was a seaport on the coast of Palestine near to present day Haifa. The battle ended in stalemate both sides withdrawing to leave Jerusalem an open city. It was erected in 1885 by the officers, non commissioned officers and men of the 58th regiment in memory of their comrades who were killed or died in South Africa between 1879 and 1885 in the first Zulu war and the first Boor war most notable and Laing’s Nek 28th January 1881 and Majuba hill 27th February 1881. The 58th regiment became the 2nd battalion the Northamptonshire regiment in 1882."
And in elation to the Gallipoli Window -
"The window to the right hand side is a memorial window to the 4th Territorial battalion the Northamptonshire regiment which was part of the 54th division fought firstly in Gallipoli August to December 1915 then to Egypt in 1916 the battalion advanced into the Sinai peninsula on the 17th April 1917 at the second battle of Gaza the battalion incurred 386 casualties in December 1917 as part of General Allenby’s army who took Jerusalem from the Turkish ottoman forces."
Walter at the Franz Mayer Co also mentioned in his email to me the cooperation with English artists and artisans on the production of some of the works by Franz Mayer.
Franz B. Mayer liked the English transcendent style very much. Therefore, he had employed some English stained glass artists and painters. Partly he himself colored sketches.
The employed English stained glass artists have worked as designers of sketches and cartoons, or painters. These are some of the names of English artists:
Rice and Cope with their sons, Bartlett, Chapmann, Fisher, Schwager, Lessels, Belcher, Fricker, Shellard, Daniels, Bouchette, Berra, and the best of all, Francis William Dixon, a pupil of Burne-Jones. This cooperation continued for many decades. It ended in August 1914 when the last Englishmen with their families left Germany at the outbreak of World War I.
So having read this more digging on the web provided this about one of the artist mentioned -
Burne-Jones exhibited at the two International Exhibitions at the Museum of Decorative Art in Berlin in 1886 and 1893. This ensured his popularity in Germany as a painter and stained-glass designer and demonstrates the exceptionally strong influence that Burne-Jones made on the European Symbolist movement. The makers of the window, Mayer & Co of Munich (the Franz Mayer'schen Hofkunstanstalt) had a direct connection with the Pre-Raphaelites. They employed an English designer, William Francis Dixon (1848-1928), who had trained at Clayton & Bell, the English Stained-glass manufacturers. John Robert Clayton (1827-1913), a close friend of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Alfred Bell (1832-95), had founded their firm in London in 1855. Dixon’s designs were often heavily influenced by Burne-Jones. The Sixth Day of Creation window was commissioned in 1913 from the Franz Mayer'schen Hofkunstanstalt in Munich (Germany’s leading glass mosaic and stained glass window manufacturers) and painted by Adolf von der Heydt. It is unique in the fact that the image has been taken directly from Burne-Jones’s finished goache, whereas the windows in English churches were taken from the earlier designs Burne-Jones made for Morris & Co.
Some of Dixon's work can be seen here.
And now I digress to lighten the mood.
Last weekend I went for a much needed stroll, along the banks of the canal at Stoke Bruerne, it was a lovely sunny day, ideal for being by the water, and what do I see as I walk along ?,a beer boat, my plan to burn off calories was about to fail spectacularly.
The boat stocked some great beers including beers from a lot of Northamptonshire breweries, so I partook of a Nobby's Plum Porter, which I happen like a lot,
The beer boat moves location so look out for it if you are walking along the canal sides in Nothamptonshire and have a beer and a chat with Jon.
What better use of a boat can you think of ? answers on a postcard.
I took the picture below because I wanted to capture the boats reflection in the water and also because I love the canal system which I happen to think is a great asset which we should treasure and take care of, in terms of a great way to get exercise and getting away from the noise of the modern world it is unbeatable.
Ever wanted to have a look around a building or place not usually open to the public ?, Heritage Open Days are the chance to do just that, its England's largest festival of history and culture, and its free.
So Last SaturdayI took the chance to have a look around one of Northamptonshires most historic buildings, The Church of the Holy Sepulchre which is a rare Norman Round church, I was specifically interested in the military aspect of its history as I knew it has an abundance of this in connection with the Northamptonshire Regiment. I has visited the building before as I knew a skirmish had taken place during the English Civil War which had lead to marks from musket balls being visible on its exterior which can still be seen today.
I was shown around by a very knowledgeable chap called David Parish who is a military tour guide and he pointed out the various things and people connected with the church's military history and gave me some information about some of the magnificent stained glass windows, three of which were made in Germany.
The church is worth visiting just to see the Jaffa Window which depicts scenes from the Crusades and has intricate detail which my pictures won't do justice too but I hope they give you an idea of the craftsmanship involved, below is just two of the four panes that make up the window.
Unfortunately the picture I took of the windows in its entirety didn't turn out so well because of background light so I'm hoping David can send me one so I can post it up.
Update, since I posted this I have kindly been sent a picture of the Jaffa Window by John Kightley, thank you John, It can be seen below -
The Gallipoli Window is seen below -
The church contains a chapel for the Northamptonshire Regiment the ceiling of which can be seen on the left.
The church is one of only four remaining round church's built in Britain, it was modelled on the church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Simon de Senlis built the church as an offering of thanks for his safe return from the Holy Land.
The Soldiers Chapel is where over 6000 soldiers from the Northamptonshires are remembered from the two great wars.
Above is the layout of the original round church and below my picture of this part of the church which doesn't really do it justice if I'm honest.
Some of the windows are memorials to individual soldiers paid for by their family, this window is a memorial to Eric Bostock.
So what is the fascination of really old buildings for me ? well probably their permanency, or lets say in the context of how long we have been around as humans, their relative permanency. Look around you today and most everything seems to be built on shifting sand metaphorically speaking, the church I visited today has been around for hundreds of years before I was born and most likely will be around for hundreds more after I'm long gone.
Think back to the ediface that was Greyfriars Bus Station, that took immense effort to build and yet 40 odd years later it is no more having been demolished, look back at the people who built the church and how little they had in terms of equipment and you have to marvel at their collective achievement in not only building the church in the first place but the fact it is still standing with relatively little maintenance many hundreds of years later.
The Normans and Simon de Senlis
The Norman legacy in Northampton is far reaching, Northampton Castle was built by them and it was used for the trial of the Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Becket in 1164.
Some information about Simon, he was by birth a Norman, the Son of Ralph the Rich, both he and his Brother Garner rendered considerable assistance to Duke William in his conquest of England. Garner returned to Normandy to inherit the paternal estates, but Simon being in high favour with the Conqueror remained in England.
Simon was lame in one leg which caused a problem for him when the lady who had been offered to him as a bride refused to accept him because of his lameness.
Simon rebuilt and fortified the town of Northampton, and erected the castle near to the western gate, in the year 1084 the Earl repaired and re-founded the Cluniac priory of St Andrew, Northampton, making in a dependency of the French House of the Blessed Mary de Caritate.
In the year 1096 Simon in common with many of the nobles and knights of England joined in the first crusade, which ended in the capture of Jerusalem by assault on July 15th 1099.
Simon survived and returned safely to England before the end of that year.
To earl of Northampton Simon de Senlis who was one of the most powerful and wealthy of the new nobility of England, the rebuilder of Northampton and the founder of its castle, a great benefactor of religious houses and a most faithful son of the church, an earnest crusader, and a devout pilgrim, the first erection of the church of the Holy Sepulchre of Northampton may with considerable confidence be assigned.
Simon on his return from the Holy Land built the church as a sign of his thanks for his safe return, the original church of the Holy Sepulchre consisted of the round or circular part, with an aiseless chancel extending some distance to the east, which probably terminated in an apse.
Obviously over the years work has been undertaken to maintain the building which at one stage was in dire need of work to be carried out.
The soldier pictured below is Edgar Mobbs he served as a Captain in the 7th Battalion of the Northamptonshire Regiment and rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the same Regiment.
He is one of Northampton's most well know sportsmen, he captained the Saints and played for and captained England, the Mobbs memorial match is played every year in his honour. He was awarded the DSO and died in the Ypres Salient in Belgium killed in action in 1917.
The gentleman to the left is Fred Lessons, who played many times for Northampton Town, he served with the Ist Battalion Northamptonshire Regiment.
The Cricketer Charles Tomblin who played for Northants died towards the end of the war in June 1918 and served with the 2nd Northamptonshire Regiment. Sadly I can find no pictures of Charles, but I'm making enquiries.
We should always be mindful of the people that gave their lives and suffered unimaginable hardships and witnessed such horror, women that lost husbands, parents that lost beloved sons, sons and daughters that lost fathers, brothers that lost brothers, what we should never do though is glorify war.
We have travelled from the Crusades which was fought many hundreds of years ago to World War One which although it seems a long time ago is still relatively recent, and what has mankind learnt, today we see wars still raging and civilians bearing the brunt of those wars, maybe in some distant future we will learn how to put our energies into more productive pursuits for the common good of mankind.
That would be a fitting tribute to all the talented young people who had their lives cut short and all their relatives who never really recovered from the shock and sadness of losing their loved ones.