Stained Glass from Welsh Churches

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Windows commissioned by Sir W.T. Lewis

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Stained glass window depicting Christ and a kneeling figure, pithead and blast-furnace.

Robert Newbery, ‘Give us this day our daily bread’, 1896, Church of St Tydfil, Merthyr Tydfil

Over the last couple of years I’ve been aware of the patronage of Sir W.T. Lewis, first Baron Merthyr of Senghenydd, and featured a couple of the windows commissioned by him in the chapter of Stained Glass from Welsh Churches discussing memorial windows in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He commissioned more than a dozen windows for at least six churches and at least one in Llandaff Cathedral. Among these is the really unusual window at Merthyr Tydfil dedicated to the ‘Captains of Industry’, many of whom were coal-owners in the south Wales valleys.

A report in the Cardiff Times from 1899 (although the window is dated 1896) claims it as ‘a bold departure from the conventional treatment of subjects in memorial glass’ and its unconventional use of biblical subjects and texts (including extracts from the Book of Job) is accompanied by the depiction of a pithead and blast-furnace in the scene below.

I’ve been adding further notes on the window for the ‘Stained Glass in Wales’ Catalogue, and looked up the Cardiff Times report that I had a note of but had not consulted. Another reason for my interest in the patronage of W.T. Lewis is his fairly consistent patronage of the studio of Robert Newbery, and his interest in depicting Welsh saints, particularly Elfan, in the windows that he commissioned. His family also continued these two aspects of his patronage after his death in August 1914.


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