The League has decided to support the restoration of the Charter window jointly with Pilgrim Trust. We hope that members will want to donate to this project, in this the 900 year of the hospital. If we do so a plaque will acknowledge our fundraising close to the window.
Restoration of the Charter Window in the North Wing at St Bartholomew’s Hospital will cost £15,000
Supported by the League of Nurses and Pilgrim Trust
If you would like to make a donation, please visit our donate page and select “Barts Heritage” in the funds options
If you are unable to donate via our website, don’t worry, you can still send a cheque to the Treasurer. Please make your cheque payable to League of St Bartholomew’s Nurses and write Barts Heritage on the back to ensure it goes to the correct fund.
If you donate the League will match your donation.
The Charter Window is of national significance and is an integral element earlier than the North Wing building itself. It remains an important part of the cultural life of the hospital.
The window marks the re-founding of the St Bartholomew’s by Henry VIII who granted the Hospital to the City of London in 1547. Some of the glass dates to 1632, indicating it was probably made for the medieval hall at the Hospital. It was installed in its current position in 1743, when the earlier buildings were replaced with the James Gibbs designs.
The window depicts King Henry, flanked by Aldermen of the City and nobles, as he presents the Royal Charter to Thomas Vicary, a physician and surgeon who became the Hospital’s first Superintendent.
The only substantial part remaining of the original 17th-century work is the central panel between two thick bars showing the head and shoulders of the kneeling Mayor. The arms used by the King above his head are 17th-century work, though the surrounding part, with the lion and dragon as supporters, are probably 18th-century restorations. The wrought iron tie bars appear to have great age, and could be original bars re-used. They are certainly historically significant. The painted detail is skilfully worked, with subtle modelling of figurative elements, and other areas such as faux marble in the pavement.
The uppermost part of the top panel with the corner ornaments and the arms of the Hospital at the base are also 18th-century work, added when the window was enlarged in 1734, in order to resize it for the new Great Hall. The window bears glaziers’ signatures on the panels dating from 1652 to 1881.
The window has been repaired at various times in the 1780s and 1790s and its last restoration was in 1947, following damage during the Second World War. The detailed condition survey commissioned by Barts Heritage describes a window with multiple serious condition problems. The lead work is bowed to an unacceptable degree, which has caused panel divisions to part and in this case, re-leading will be necessary. The stained glass cement under the leads has become crumbly and has fallen away in large areas. The 20th-century secondary glazing also appears to have created a microclimate for the stained glass which has not benefited its condition.
The window will be removed for careful workshop conservation by specialists in historic stained glass. Repairs will include structural stabilisation to correct severe buckling and fragile fixings. The dirt on the internal face will require careful and time-consuming cleaning monitored by binocular microscope, and the broken hand-decorated stained glass fragments will be repaired and replaced. The painted detail is delicate, and the window will be protected by environmental protective glazing and a new external bronze frame with integral tie bars.