Seventeenth Century Stained Glass in Upton Pyne Church

Devon & Cornwall Notes and Queries vol. VI, (January 1910 to October 1911), illus., pp. 177-178.



Prepared by Michael Steer

The Church of Our Lady was consecrated by Bishop Grandisson on September 26th 1328. There is evidence that a church existed in Upton Pyne long before this date but it is not certain exactly where this was located. Over the years, the church, which is built primarily of local volcanic rock, has undergone alterations and restoration. Extensive alterations were made in both the 15th and 19th centuries. The Note’s author describes some unusual stained glass of Dutch provenance in a window near the church’s south door. The article, from a copy of a rare and much sought-after journal can be downloaded from the Internet Archive. Google has sponsored the digitisation of books from several libraries. These books, on which copyright has expired, are available for free educational and research use, both as individual books and as full collections to aid researchers.

Note 170. SEVENTEENTH CENTURY STAINED GLASS IN UPTON PYNE CHURCH. - The remains of what must have been formerly an extensive collection of this glass have been removed from three windows in the south aisle of this church and in the Vicarage hall and reassembled in a window to the east of the south door, their arrangement being shown by the accompanying photographs. Many small fragments, too shattered for restoration, have been utilized as borders to the light enclosing six larger panels. Of these, one, in the lower half of the centre light, is comparatively modern, dating only from the earlier half of the nineteenth century : it displays Stafford quartering Northcote with the hand of Ulster, sign of baronetcy, on a small central escutcheon.

The other panels, as shown by the larger photographs, are extremely quaint and full of interest. All are of either Dutch or Flemish workmanship, and the oval heraldic medallion, which bears date 1630, is probably the most recent of the five. This little oval is most likely a memorial to the "Lysbet Vander Muelen, Hans dochter," named in the inscription. The arms, displayed on the fusil or lozenge, shows a double impalement in defiance of all laws of English heraldry. Possibly this may indicate that Hans Vander Muelen married twice, though the displaying of such impalements on the shield of an unmarried woman is very unusual. An accidental likeness between the saltiers in the upper impalement, and the arms borne by one branch of the Stafford family may suggest that possibly the shield was originally acquired on account of this resemblance. Such little homely memorials, seldom met with in England, were a feature of Dutch and Swiss glass from the end of the sixteenth to the middle of the eighteenth century.

The three circular panels, showing scenes from the Passion of Our Lord, date from the beginning of the seventeenth century. They are probably the sole survivors of a larger series. The cup and wafer before which Our Lord kneels in His agony are worthy of note. The figure of St. James the Less, with fuller's club and book, is also obviously one of a series, probably of the twelve Apostles. Executed in grisaille, with touches of silver stain, and backed by a delicately tinted little landscape, it is vigorously drawn and painted, the drapery especially being free and of good character.                        M.D.