UPPER HARDRES CHURCH
The lost glass of Upper Hardres
The east windows of Upper Hardres church have some of the finest medieval stained glass in Kent. Both windows, originally from St Mary's, Stelling, with their characteristic 'S' shaped figures, show how rich and colourful the glass of that period was. They also gives a hint of how brightly decorated even the humblest of our ancient churches must have been before the Reformation and subsequent changes.In 1974, the church suffered a disastrous fire which consumed much of the roof, destroyed nearly all of the east window glass together with much of the wooden furnishings such as the box pews and hatchments to various members of the Hardres family. The picture on the right shows the west window shortly after the fire.
However, before the fire in 1972 the main parts of the west window were photographed by Professor N J Morgan and with his kind permission they are shown on this page. Together with drawings made by C R Councer in the 1930s, they are a remaining record of what the pre-fire window looked like.
The main elements
were 13th Century and
consisted of picture
roundels surrounded by
together with an
unidentified coat of
main photographs are set
out below but
not to scale.
Fig 1: Framework at top of window.
Fig 2: Life of Bishop (St Nicholas?)
Fig 3: Bishop (St Nicholas?)
The other roundel is an enthroned Virgin Mary with donor figures either side, possibly members of ther Hardres family. It is estimated that this may have been one of the earliest 'donor' scenes in the country.
Fig 4: Virgin Donor roundel
Fig 5: Painting of virgin donor roundel by C R Crouncer carried out in 1930s
There was also an unidentified coat of arms in the window. Identification of the coat may give some more clues about the glass. The arms are possibly of the Haute family, although a smillar coat belonging to Bartholomew de Wateringbury appears in the Dering roll, the oldest surviving roll of arms set around the time of Edward I. The arms are mainly of Kent and Sussex knights and also feature an early version of the Hardres family arms.
Fig 6: Unidentified arms and arms of de Wateringbury from the Dering Roll.The roundels were most likely set within a framework of patterned glass known as grisaille, consisting of decorative interlocking patterns. The actual position of the glass and surrounding panels is not completely evident from the surviving photographs and additionally they were probably re-set from an earlier window. An example of grisaille glass in situ can be seen in nearby Hastingleigh church (fig 7).
Fig 7: Chancel window at Hastingleigh church
After the fire
The remaining stained glass fragments were recovered after the fire and set into roundels which sit below the west windows and in a lancet window on the North side of the chancel.
Professor N J Morgan - Photographs
C R Councer - Drawings
Leaflet - 'St Peter and St Paul Church Upper Hardres Stained Glass'