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Church restoration project to go ahead

PUBLISHED: 09:00 12 June 2009 | UPDATED: 08:15 01 August 2010

UNIQUE windows painted by the famous Victorian stained glass designer artist Charles Kempe are to be the subject of an important restoration project at Barsham Church.

UNIQUE windows painted by the famous Victorian stained glass designer artist Charles Kempe are to be the subject of an important restoration project at Barsham Church.

The Church, which also boasts a medieval rood which is lit up by the sun on the equinox, recently secured the funds for a project estimated to cost around £40,000.

Restoration work will also be done to the Trafalgar Centenary window on the south side of the church.

The money for the project, which should start in the autumn, has been raised via a number of avenues. £200 was made when 150 people came to watch the equinox phenomenon at the Church, and the Church also received a grant of £10,000 from National Church Trust. This was added to a similar grant from the Suffolk Historic Church Trust.

They recently received further grants of £15,000 from HB Allen Charitable Trust and £500 from the Alfred Williams Trust.

The diamond-shaped panels, with diamond tracery covering the outer face of the gable, will each have to be removed and inspected, costing roughly £550 each to restore.

Several of the faces on the panels have been worn away over time.

“Hopefully it will just bring them back to the quality they were before,” said Rev John Buchanan, Secretary at the Church. “And now they will be safe for another 50 or 60 years, perhaps 100.”

Charles Kempe was commissioned to design and paint each of the panels, as their unique shape required a highly-skilled artist.

He painted the glass from 1870 to 1880, when he was a noted artist but still quite young. He had only set up his glass works a year before, and Barsham's east end window is now the earliest example of his work in Suffolk still in its original position.

Unfortunately Mr Kempe mixed the mineral borax with the paint, a fashion of the time to help the paint stick to the glass. This method was stopped in 1880 because they realised it eroded the paint over time, the effects of which you can now see on the windows.

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