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3rd August 2012, 10:30am
Coventry's magnificent medieval stained glass back in view after 70 years
Fragments of medieval stained glass Thousands of fragments of medieval stained glass which survived the bombing of Coventry Cathedral during the Second World War will go on public view for the first time in more than 70 years next week (Monday 6th August 2012).

The Old Cathedral of St Michael at Coventry was bombed almost to destruction by the Luftwaffe on 14 November 1940 and its ruins now sit alongside the city's modern cathedral.

The historic building's magnificent stained glass survived the Blitz, having been removed and placed in storage in 1939. The glass has not been seen by the public since.

Now specialists from the University of Lincoln's renowned conservation consultancy division, Crick Smith, are working with World Monuments Fund Britain and Coventry Cathedral to restore and put back on public display the surviving pieces, which represent Britainís largest collection of loose medieval stained glass.

The project involves cleaning and repairing an estimated 5,000 fragments of stained glass, many of which have degraded over time in storage. Some of the glass is by 15th century Coventry-based stained glass artist John Thornton, while other pieces date between the 15th and 19th centuries.

The meticulous work will be carried out by a team of experienced conservators from Crick Smith University of Lincoln, joined by current students and graduates from the University's Conservation and Restoration programme, in full view of the public in Coventry's Herbert Art Gallery and Museum. The project runs from 6 August 2012 to 31 October 2012, with another two months' work scheduled next summer.

The team will be working with stained glass historian Heather Gilderdale-Scott to identify and date the fragments, as well as building a database to record information about the origin, condition and historical significance of the pieces, including photographs.

Ian Crick-Smith, Senior Research Fellow at the University of Lincoln and co-founder of Crick Smith UL, said: "For the first time the glass will be available for public viewing and for further research and study. When in the cathedral, the glass was predominantly at clerestory level or high within the east end apse. It was therefore not easily viewable. In the future the glass will be displayed in a way which will allow the public to view it closely.
"The centre of Coventry has some very important historic buildings, yet it is often overlooked as a historic centre. The conservation of the stained glass and its prominence as a collection of historic artefacts will act as a focus for the rediscovery of historic Coventry and the regeneration of the historic quarter."

Dr Jonathan Foyle, CEO of World Monuments Fund Britain, said: "We are looking forward to an involving and fascinating project. Crick Smith UL were prepared to set up their stall in the centre of Coventry rather than remove the glass to a remote workshop. This public-faced conservation work is ideal, as it allows the citizens of Coventry and visitors to see the glass where it belongs, and share the discoveries. The access will encourage many to reflect anew on a rich historic environment that rewards curiosity and deserves investment."

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