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CHAPTER 9 - ‘Late-Medieval Glass-Painting in Norfolk: Developments in Iconography and Craft c.1250–1540’

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 April 2013

T. A. Heslop
Affiliation:
University of East Anglia
Elizabeth Mellings
Affiliation:
University of East Anglia
Margit Thøfner
Affiliation:
University of East Anglia
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Summary

INTRODUCTION

The late-medieval churches of Norfolk have a distinctive character. This relates closely to the environment in which they were built and the people who commissioned and fashioned them. Up until the late thirteenth century, it was rare to find many window openings and they were generally of small size. In part, this was because of the lack of local building stone to supplement the flint rubble, from which the plain walls were constructed. As a result, the framing of windows and any tracery within them had to be made from expensive imported material. Structurally, too, there was a consequence: walls were thick and low, which again meant areas of glass were minimal. However, from around 1300 until the Reformation, growing technical expertise and confidence allowed a very substantial increase in wall height and window size and these were exploited for two purposes. One was to raise light levels in the church and the other was to provide space that could be filled with religious imagery in stained glass. Although these conditions pertained elsewhere in parts of England, there was nowhere outside East Anglia where churches so consistently had their aisle windows dramatically enlarged and clerestories added above the nave arcading, and where the shafts supporting the arcade were designed and placed to maximise the visibility of the glass. Two factors were crucial: a wealthy and pious population willing to pay for the work and the expertise to devise and manufacture appropriate imagery.

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Information
Art, Faith and Place in East Anglia
From Prehistory to the Present
, pp. 130 - 147
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2012

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