English Churches - Cambridgeshire

Ely Cathedral, The Stained Glass Museum - Part 1

Some Background

Stained glass windows are the glory of many of our churches, flooding the building with coloured light on sunny days, as can be seen in this picture of Lincoln Cathedral.

Lincoln Cathedral

We take the stained glass for granted and it is often difficult to see and appreciate the detail and complexity of the glass. Some places like York Minster and Kings College Chapel do have information about the glass, the Stained Glass Museum in Ely Cathedral is the only Museum in Britain dedicated to stained glass and one of a few places in the world covering such a large chronological span of stained glass. It contains over 100 panels dating from the early C13th to the mid C20th of religious and secular glass. These are displayed at eye level and carefully illuminated from behind. You can really get up close and personal with the glass.

The Museum in in the south east triforium and reached up a steep stone spiral staircase. As well as the stained glass panels, there are information boards covering the development of stained glass as well as a collection of tools and materials used in the design and manufacture of stained glass. It also has a collection of preparatory designs, cartoons and maquettes relating to C19th and C20th glass which are sometimes part of temporary displays. It also has a reference library for research workers and a very good shop.

Some of the stained glass on display is beautiful. I was perhaps a little disappointed that there was less medieval glass than C19th and C20th glass.

It is also a rare chance to visit the triforium in a cathedral. Seen from below these always look like narrow passageway. In fact they are quite wide and there is a lot of space. There are also very good views of the painted nave ceiling and the painted ceiling of the south west tower.

Ely Cathedral, The Stained
                Glass Museum  Ely Cathedral, The Stained
                Glass Museum

The museum can be visited by itself or as a joint ticket with the cathedral. Unfortunately there is no disabled access although a touch screen virtual visit is available on the ground floor.

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