Village church preserved for generations to come

Daniel Burke from Lightworks, installing the restored stained glass windows at St Leonard's Church, Balderstone.
Daniel Burke from Lightworks, installing the restored stained glass windows at St Leonard's Church, Balderstone.

An open day will be held at a Ribble Valley church following the completion of a project to restore five of its Victorian stained glass windows in memory of local people and replace fractured stone mullions.

The event will be held at St Leonard’s Church, Balderstone, on Saturday, May 21st, with members of the public invited to come along and take a look at the newly restored glass windows and mullion surrounds.

In total eight stone mullions, the vertical piece of stone with stained glass on either side of it, have been replaced, and the necessary repairs done to 17 individual lancets, the glass panels on either side of a mullion, by Lightworks Stained Glass in Clitheroe.

The company was founded in 1998 by Clitheroe man Daniel Burke and his sister Deborah. They together have a combined total of more than 35 years experience in the field and have completed a vast array of projects including the one at St Leonard’s.

Director Daniel Burke said: “It has been a huge privilege for Lightworks Stained Glass to be involved in this challenging heritage project. In completing over eight months of repair, restoration and conservation work, the stained glass at St Leonard’s has now been safe guarded for future generations.”

The work at St Leonard’s has been funded by a grant for £65,200 from the Heritage Lottery Fund together with some private donations and a Balderstone Parish Council donation. This generosity has meant that the church has only had to contribute around £6,000 to the work.

Daniel Burke from Lightworks, installing the restored stained glass windows at St Leonard's Church, Balderstone.

Daniel Burke from Lightworks, installing the restored stained glass windows at St Leonard's Church, Balderstone.

During the last 12 months, in addition to the actual repair work, many other things have been taking place.

Children from the primary school at Balderstone have been involved in the programme of “Supporting Activities” which have been a key feature of the project.

John Mather, the project’s coordinator, said: “We are immensely grateful to the head teacher and staff of the school for the tremendous enthusiasm and wholehearted support they have given to the project, from the time we were preparing the grant application to the present time.

“Included in the funds for ‘Supporting Activities’ was a sum of £2,990 to fund specific events and activities, which the school undertook to arrange, in order to ensure that the children had involvement with a real live project and learned about the importance of heritage preservation.

John Mather, project co-ordinator with art work which will be on display at the open day after the newly restored stained glass windows at St Leonard's Church, Balderstone.

John Mather, project co-ordinator with art work which will be on display at the open day after the newly restored stained glass windows at St Leonard's Church, Balderstone.

“In addition to learning about stained glass windows and developing various skills within the weekly curriculum, some of the £2,990 was used to fund a visit to the World of Glass Museum at St Helen’s, a visit to the Haworth Art Gallery at Accrington to see the world famous Tiffany glass collection and a workshop in school involving the children in designing and creating a piece of artistic glassware which is now on permanent display in the school.”

A teacher at the school, Sian Riddell, who coordinated the school’s involvement with the project, also produced a Stained Glass Teaching Resource Package, which has been made available to other primary schools via the internet.

The HLF grant included £5,000 towards the cost of the programme of “Supporting Activities” and as part of this programme, John Jackson, of Mellor Brook, has written a book entitled “Stained Glass Windows in St Leonard’s Church Balderstone” that includes both information about the church’s stained glass windows and photos. John has previously written a book about the history of the church.

Included in the diverse range of activities running alongside the repairs, there has been open days and an invitation for people to create artistic interpretations of the stained glass windows.

A total of 20 have been produced using different artistic mediums including textiles in addition to paint and these will be on display during the open day later this month. Visitors to the open day will also be able to view the children’s work in Balderstone Primary School between 3 and 4 pm.

Mr Mather added: “Our invitation to people to create ‘artistic interpretation’ of stained glass windows produced an interesting collection of pieces of work with some stunningly beautiful examples of craft and artistic skills. We express our sincere thanks to all who have responded to our invitation to celebrate our wonderful heritage in this way.”

Back in August last year more than 30 delegates attended a “Church Buildings Care and Repair” seminar at St Leonard’s as part of the HLF grant’s programme of activities. A total of five speakers including Mr Burke, from Lightworks Stained Glass, provided information about various aspects of looking after church buildings, which they passed on to those who attended.

An interesting feature of the project has been the temporary installation of transparent sheets of polycarbonate, bearing a photographic image of the stained glass window, to protect the church building while the glass panels underwent studio-based repairs.

For further information about Lightworks Stained Glass in Clitheroe visit: www.lightworksstainedglass.co.uk