Historic stained glass windows have been returned to Barnstaple in Devonshire after 30 years

When St Mary Magdalene Church in Devonshire – built in 1842 – was demolished in 1988, it was to make way for a new inner relief road. That was until the Honourable Glaziers Company stepped in to rescue a pair of stained glass windows which depicted the building and Dedication of King Solomon’s Temple.

Those stained glass windows have lain since then in the cellar of Glaziers Hall in London. However, through the offices of the United Grand Lodge of England’s Assistant Grand Master Sir David Wootton, who is also Worshipful Master of the Glaziers Company, the windows have been returned to members of Loyal Lodge No. 251 which meets in Barnstaple.

On 17th May 2019, Ian Kingsbury, Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire, Ian Roome, Mayor of Barnstaple, Alison Mills, Manager of Barnstaple’s Museum, and Robert Patterson, specialist glass Restorer, together with Roger Moore, Worshipful Master of Loyal Lodge, and members of the lodge accompanied by their families, welcomed members of the Worshipful Company of Glaziers.

The windows are an outstanding historical artefact which commemorates the life of a prominent member of the Barnstaple community and Past Master of Loyal Lodge, John Thomas Britton (1790 to 1855), and is a small piece of local history.

Thomas Britton was an active member within the community and of St Mary Magdalene’s Church. It was in 1859 that the members of Loyal Lodge decided that as a permanent memorial they would commission the stained glass south window of the Church to be dedicated to his memory.

In 1843, John Britton took a leading role in the acquisition of what is known as the Bath Furniture consisting of some of the finest masonic chairs, pedestals and pillars still in existence anywhere in the masonic world.

During the meeting a resume of the history of the windows and St. Mary Magdalene Church was very ably given by Estcourt Miller. In presenting the windows, Sir David Wootton said how pleased they were to be able to return them to North Devon and to know that in due course they will be displayed so prominently for all to see.

The Worshipful Company of Glaziers and Painters of Glass are one of the ancient livery companies of the City of London, its origins dating back to the 14th century. Through its charity – The Glaziers Foundation – it supports education, the training of stained glass artists, together with the conservation of stained glass and are devoted to promoting the art and craft of stained glass.

Roger Moore formally accepted possession of the windows and thanked all those who had been involved in their return and eventual display in the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon when their refurbishment of the building is complete.

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