Stained Glass from Welsh Churches

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Bristow Wadley & lost windows

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With the closure of churches and chapels a little bit of stained glass history can also slip away. Sometimes the buildings retain their windows after changes of use, and in other cases windows are moved to other places of worship. But windows from closed churches have also been sold or destroyed.

When trying to untangle some of the references to the work of the Cardiff firm Bristow, Wadley & Co., in an attempt to trace a history of stained glass firms based in Wales, I came across references to a window designed by Ivor Davies and supplied by Bristow, Wadley & Co. for the Church of St Catwg, Bedlinog. According to the Diocesan Faculty this was designed by Ivor Davies and made at Bristow Wadley’s Swansea studio. However, Maurice Broady lists the windows as by Celtic Studios (who were based in Swansea), and all of the references to a stained glass studio owned by Bristow Wadley’s that I have seen elsewhere locate it in Mill Lane, Cardiff. The firm sold all kinds of decorative supplies, not just glass, but paints, wallpaper etc, and had a number of outlets in the south Wales area.

stained glass window with an image of Cadog.

Probably Bristow, Wadley & Co., St Cadog, 1952, probably designed and made by Ivor Davies

When I tried to go and have a look at the window I was told that the church had long closed and the windows had been removed. Remarkably, I have now seen these windows, now in frames and for sale at an antiques showroom. This amazing coincidence was brought about by someone who encouraged me to come and see them, not knowing who they were by or where they had come from. The subjects rang a bell with my memory of the foregoing, and when I checked I was amazed to find that the subjects fitted the description of the Bedlinog window. But the solution of the designer/maker is not one that I would have expected. The central figure of Christ is indeed by Celtic Studios with their mark on, but the figures of Brychan and Cadog (or Catwg, Cadoc) are, I am fairly sure, the work of Ivor Davies.

I would welcome any further information on the extent of the stained glass studio at Bristow Wadley’s Cardiff base, or indeed elsewhere.

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