Felbrigg blows dust off ancient images

The household chore of window cleaning is normally done with a wet sponge, a squeegee or some spray and a bit of scrunched up newspaper. But the historic stained glass in a north Norfolk stately home needed rather gentler treatment to rid them of their film of dust.

THE household chore of window cleaning is normally done with a wet sponge, a squeegee or some spray and a bit of scrunched up newspaper.

But the historic stained glass windows in a north Norfolk stately home needed rather gentler treatment to rid them of their film of dust.

In what could be a called a panes-taking operation at Felbrigg Hall, 28 glass panels, some dating back more than 500 years have been taken down, dusted with dry brushes and had cracked bits of lead re-soldered.

After a winter of patient work the glass has been put back in place as the National Trust house gets ready to reopen to the public next month.


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The stained glass has been in the house since 1841 when the squire William Howe Windham bought it to embellish the Great Hall, where it would have shone colourful light on to the gentry of the time playing billiards.

Scenes are mainly Biblical - including one graphic one of the slaying of children - and are a mixture of English, Flemish, French and Swiss origin.

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They also include some originals and some copies of glass from St Peter Mancroft in Norwich.

Glass restoration specialist Peter Campling said the panes were quite good condition considering their age. They would have once been exposed to the elements outside, but had been "double glazed" in the 1990s with protection from an outer clear glass.

"It is mainly dust that settles on the surface - but because it is delicate paint work it has to be cleaned by light brushing," said Mr Campling, of MC Lead Glaziers of Horsford.

New film is being put on the clear windows to keep out harmful sun rays and cut down the light coming into the room which fades furniture and paintings.

House steward Ella Ingle said the window cleaning was part of a major winter programme of work including fire safety which meant the reopening was delayed to April 4.

It was hoped to get more funding to do the remaining west bay window in the Great Hall which features the coats of arms of the Windham and Harvey families.

William Howe Windham, the son of an admiral, married Lady Sophia Hervey of Ickworth. Their son "Mad" Windham however took the estate into bankruptcy and scandal, because his wife was a high class prostitute, and he ended up driving the stagecoach from Cromer to Norwich.

The trust was left the hall in 1969 by the last squire Robert Ketton-Cremer.

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