Early History of Stained Glass Windows


Stained glass windows are an ancient art form. With their designs used across the world and ever-evolving, these windows stand as an archaic and beautiful reminder of the past. Here is a brief summary of the early history and origins of stained glass and leaded windows.

Early origins of stained glass windows

The first stained glass windows appeared in Christian churches in the 4th and 5th century, consisting of ornate patterns on thin alabaster which were used to fill churches’ wooden frames. Britain’s first use of leaded and stained glass windows however can be found as early as the 7th century. In 675 AD, a French import was commissioned to create stained glass windows for St Peter’s monastery, marking the first official use of stained glass in Britain.

Medieval Glass

Stained glass windows became most popular during the Middle Ages, where images and stories of the Bible were depicted to an illiterate population. This Early Gothic period saw stained, leaded glass windows structured with bold iron frames which obscured the windows images and sacrificed their beauty. As the Gothic period’s architecture evolved, so did its stained glass. This saw more elaborate designs appear across Europe as well as the introduction of the perpendicular style across Britain.

Stained Glass Destruction

Stained glass windows haven’t always been treated with the respect they deserve. The French Revolution and English Reformation saw thousands of windows smashed, with the Reformation seeing churches replace their stained glass windows with plainer designs. Nowadays, stained glass windows can be widely seen in churches and cathedrals across Europe. We at Steve Sherriff think this is only right considering the beauty of such an art form!

Discover the range of services stained glass specialist Steve Sherriff offers, including window frame repair, window restorations and stained glass door installations, by calling us on 01202 882208 or filling out our contact form.