Corpus Vitrearum Medii Aevi

Medieval Stained Glass in Great Britain

[Image: Stained Glass Roundel]
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Norfolk: Cley, Parish Church of St Margaret

O.S. TG 048432

A ‘striking and improbable-looking building … splendid in large parts’, 1 which is situated to the south of the present town, the nearby medieval harbour having silted up in the seventeenth century. There is a small early west tower, offset to the north, a large Decorated chancel with north and south aisles and ruined north and south transeptal chapels. Also of the fourteenth century are the low chancel, the fine clerestory with alternating two-light and large circular windows, and the west and south doors. The south porch is large and Perpendicular, as are the west window, windows and parapet of the south aisle, chancel east window, and small north porch. 2 The south aisle was used as a chapel at some point by German merchants, according to Blomefield and Parkin, who recorded imperial eagles on the roof. 3 In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the family of Symonds, who were merchants, were associated with the south aisle and transept and may have been the donors of the glass in sIX, which appears to be in situ. They had become owners of the manor known as Nerford’s Moiety, the other main manor in Cley being Lord Ross’s Moiety, which family presented to the church. 4 A brass to John Symonds the Elder and his wife Agnes is in the south aisle now mounted on the wall. John died in 1502 and in his will written on 8 July in that year asked for ‘one wyndowe of thre lyghtys be glazed w(i)t(h) ye image of Seynt John Baptiste Seynt John Evangeliste and Seynt Agnes well and sufficiently what so as it shalt cost’. He asked to be buried before the image of St John the Baptist in the now ruined south transeptal chapel; 5 his brass and window were probably here. A description of the church in the Frere MS, dated 1735, says that in one of the ‘upper windows’ on the south side of the church were a man and a woman praying; the man had a book before him and a rosary on his wrist. The description also says that there were several saints and prophets on the windows, including St Matthew, St Gregory, St Ambrose, the prophets Malachi, Joel, Haggai, Daniel, and several others. ‘Upper windows’ here may refer to the clerestory, but more probably refers to the more easterly south aisle windows. The list of figures suggests a number of iconographic series, including Apostles, perhaps paired with prophets, and the Four Doctors of the Church. The five four-light windows in the south aisle (sVII–sXI), together with the three four-light windows of the north aisle (nV–nVII) could have provided locations for such series, but other arrangements may have been possible. The female saints in the tracery of sIX may have been part of this iconographic programme. The 1735 description also mentions a coat of arms on a south chancel window. 6

The north clerestory windows were restored by G. King & Son in 1970–75.


Pevsner and Wilson 1997, p. 432. Return to context
bid, p. 433. Return to context
Blomefield and Parkin 1805–10, IX, p. 379. Return to context
Ibid. p. 378. Return to context
NRO, NCC, Popy 135. Return to context
NRO, NAS 1/1/17; calendared in Cozens-Hardy 1931, p. 15. Return to context
Corpus Vitrearum Medii Aevi

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