Stained Glass in the Heath Window, North Transept
The following was written by Lawrence Biddle in January 1985: hence see the additional Notes below.
Anna Somers Clarke writing in ‘The Victoria and Albert Museum, The Making of a Collection’ writes as follows:
“The fifteenth century English Glass from Winchester College Chapel seems to have been torn from its setting merely on misguided aesthetic grounds. In 1820-21 a ‘restorer’ was employed to make a modern copy of the window, presumably with the virtues of a brighter and newer appearance. He sold the glass to the Rev. W. G. Rowland, the incumbent of St Mary’s Shrewsbury, who recognized a good thing when he saw it, even if the college authorities did not. He installed it in his church where it remained for twenty years before being removed to make way for an ‘Albert Durer’ window from Saze-Alternburg. Rowland bequeathed it to a Mr Corbet who sold it to the Museum in 1855 for £25, a paltry sum for such an important late Gothic work of art.”
What has all this to do with Leigh? Well, the figures in the North Transept window put up in 1911 (see notes below) in memory of (Mr and) Mrs Heath are an exact copy of the figures in the Winchester College Chapel window now in the Victorian and Albert Museum.
I will put a coloured photograph of the Winchester College Chapel mediaeval window on the piano in the North Transept on the first two Sundays in January so that you can compare the copy with the original.
The window in the north transept of Leigh Church was installed in memory of Agnes Maria Heath – Godfrey Hine’s grandmother who had died in 1912. Hence the date of 1911 is incorrect. The window was undertaken by Godfrey Hine: the figures are of St John and St James – copied from those in Winchester College Chapel. Godfrey, at that time employed in the studio of Archibald Nicholson, carried out the work in memory of his grandmother – there is no mention of his grandfather, Albert Hodsoll Heath, in the window: he had died in 1863. Godfrey used the Winchester window as his model but inserted the family coat of arms at the foot. The window shows the Heath coat of arms “a chevron sable between three moorcocks on an ermine ground” surmounted by the Heath crest of a tower argent flambant proper and the motto ‘hanc fenestram donum dedit Agnes Maria Heath in deo laudem. However, he did not sign the work and his technique is not yet as refined as that of his mentor. (Joyce Field)
Lawrence Biddle ‘Leigh in Kent 1550-1900’ p. 108 refers erroneously to Godfrey Hine being employed by William Nicholson. He was in fact employed by Archibald K Nicholson.