Corpus Vitrearum Medii Aevi

Medieval Stained Glass in Great Britain

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Norfolk: Norwich, Parish Church of St Peter Hungate

O.S. TG 232808

An aisleless church with transepts built to the east of the Dominican friary on a street leading to the cathedral. The west tower was paid for by Thomas Ingham, mercer, in 1431, and a bequest in 1451 of 4 marks for making a bell or painting the rood-loft suggests that the chancel was being furnished by then. 1 In 1458, the Paston family bought the advowson from the College of St Mary in the Fields, whose funds would have been depleted by the construction (completed in 1455) of the eastern arm of St Peter Mancroft, of which the college was patron. 2 The rebuilding of the nave and transepts followed closely upon this change of patronage – a now illegible inscription on a north nave buttress recorded the foundation in 1460 – and the north porch of before 1497 was the last part to be built. 3 The chancel was refurbished by the Pastons in the first half of the sixteenth century; this involvedhe provision of a new reredos and carpet for the high altar and stonework and glass for the windows. 4

Blomefield and Parkin and Kirkpatrick recorded now lost heraldic glass in the east chancel window. Blomefield and Parkin saw ‘a woman kneeling with the arms of Erpingham’. There is no evidence of any connection between this family and the church, but the arms of Erpingham are seen between the clerestory windows of the adjacent Dominican friary church, and the nearby gateway to the cathedral precinct was a memorial to Sir Thomas Erpingham, buried in the cathedral in 1428. 5 If Blomefield and Parkin’s identification of a member of the Erpingham family is correct, it may have been a panel of fifteenth century glass re-used in the sixteenth century or moved later.

Kirkpatrick’s account of the sixteenth-century Paston heraldry is more plausible that that of Blomefield and Parkin. There were three shields. The first was Paston quartering Barry, all impaling Heydon (for Sir William Paston, who married Bridget Heydon, the daughter of Henry Heydon of Baconsthorpe, and died in 1554). The second was an incomplete quarterly shield for Sir John Paston, senior (1442–79), the unmarried son of John Paston who bought the advowson in 1458, and the brother of John Paston, junior, whose coat (quarterly 1 & 4, Paston, 2, Barry, 3, Mautby, all impaling Brewes) was the third shield in the window. John Paston, junior was born in 1444 and died in 1503, having married Margaret Brewes in 1477. This glass was presumably made between the death of Sir John Paston, junior, and that of his son, Sir William Paston, in 1554. The exact date of Sir William’s marriage to Bridget Heydon, which could provide a terminus post quem, is unknown, but is thought to have been c.1500. 6 The heraldry and the rest of the glazing of the east chancel window were probably part of the general refurbishment of the chancel carried out in the first third of the sixteenth century. The surviving glass from the other chancel windows is all in the same style, and the donor figure dated 1522 is probably a good guide to the date of the whole chancel glazing scheme.

Blomefield and Parkin give a description of some unusual glass in nII, which was together with the donor figure now in the east window: ‘In a window on the north side of the altar, is the effigies of Thomas Andrew, the rector, with an Orate under him; he is kneeling in a blue vestment at prayers at an altar; his crown is shaven, and on the tonsure is represented a white cloven tongue, to express the gift of the spirit, by imposition of hands, of which the tonsure is the token or mark. In the next pane is represented the extreme unction, in which he attends the sick man, (probably Paston his patron,) on his knees, at his bed’s feet, while another priest in purple performs the ceremony, and by him is the host; by the bed’s side appears the face of the evil angel, which cannot approach him: the rector being again placed on his knees before the gates of the new Jerusalem, represented by that city in the clouds’. 7 This rather fanciful interpretation probably described the extant donor figure now in 1b in a then partially surviving window devoted to the Seven Sacraments. 8 G. A. King thought that Blomefield and Parkin’s description of the glass suggested that it was already of a ‘patchwork character’, which may explain an apparent discrepancy in dates regarding Thomas Andrew. Kirkpatrick saw an inscription in this window, which he read as 'Orate p(ro) fieri… fecit A(nn)o d(omi)ni ihrr' – ‘w(hi)ch shews that it was made A(nn)o 1522’. 9 Andrew, however, died in 1468, and Blomefield and Parkin also saw his figure in the east window of the north transept. 10 It is possible but unlikely that Andrew was commemorated in the chancel in a window dated 1522. Not only was this long after his death, but he was the last rector instituted by the College of St Mary in the Fields, and the chancel was glazed by the new patrons, the Paston family. Unfortunately, no rector is recorded as dying between 1512 and 1561; either Blomefield and Parkin misread the name, or the name was misplaced. 11

Windows nIII and sIII in the chancel are of four lights, and in the latter according to Kirkpatrick and Blomefield and Parkin, were the four Evangelists, with 'Jh(esu)s' and 'M(er)cy' in the tracery. Blomefield also saw in nIII the four doctors of the church. 12 Kirkpatrick recorded a merchant’s mark in sVI, saying that it probably belonged to Nicholas Ingham, who was buried in the church in 1497. 13

The surviving glass falls into two distinct groups: the sixteenth-century glass from the chancel, and fifteenth-century glass from the nave and transepts. It is probable that all the windows of the church were glazed with painted glass in the medieval period, and by combining information from extant and lost glass and window shapes it is possible to make tentative suggestions as to the original disposition of the glass.

Nothing is known for certain of the original glazing of the east chancel window (I), except for the Paston heraldry mentioned above. 14 The western pair of chancel windows has four lights each, and the now fragmentary series of the four doctors of the church in window I were in nIII, and the remains of the Four Evangelists in the same window were opposite in sIII, which had in its two lozenge-shaped tracery lights 'Jh(esu)s' and 'M(er)cy'. The figures of the Evangelists were accompanied by their symbols at the base of each panel; that of St Luke is now partly extant in 2c, and there is part of that for St Matthew or St Mark in 3c. NII had the extant donor figure of a rector dated 1522 plus possibly a Seven Sacrament series, and the fragments of a scene from the life of St Peter now in nIII and in the same style as the other chancel glazing would by default have been in nII. 15 A fragmentary figure of a female saint in nun’s habit in nII A5 can be dated on style to the 1520s and may be from this window, or from sII opposite, perhaps indicating that there was formerly a series of female saints in the chancel. A very fragmentary canopy top of similar date in nIV 3a can be assigned to nIII or sIII on account of its shape. The style of the chancel glazing is of interest and is related to other glass in the city and county. 16

Three fifteenth-century panels from the heads of lights with angels bearing texts are now in I 7a–c. The texts are the first three lines of the six-line Nunc dimittis. 17 This would imply that they came from a three-light window, and the only such windows in the nave and transepts are the east windows of the transepts, nIV and sIV. The Nunc dimittis is from St Luke’s account of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple and the main lights below these angels may have had an Infancy of Christ. 18 Four similar panels of angels with texts now in nV 4a–d, may give further indications of what has been lost. Their liturgical sources suggest that two of them were from one or more Marian windows, one accompanying a scene of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary in the main light below. Of the remaining pair, one is linked with the Feast of Several Virgins, implying a series of female saints, and the other text is connected with the Feast of Martyrs, indicating the original presence of a series of male martyr saints. The strong similarity between all seven panels with angels bearing texts suggests that they were together in the transept windows and it would be possible to posit on the surviving evidence an extensive Marian and Christological sequence across all four windows of the transept, although this is not conclusive.

In nV, the north window of the north transept, there may have been in the head of one of the main lights the angel carrying a text now in nV 4a, the opening line of the sequence Letabundus fidelis chorus. This was used at the daily mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Sarum Breviary. 19 In the main lights of this window could have been depicted iconography relating to the birth and early life of the Virgin, including perhaps the story of Anne and Joachim. At the top of another main light in this window could have been the angel now in nV 4b, with the first part of the antiphon ‘Simile est regnum celorum’, which appears in the Sarum Breviary for the Feast of Several Virgins, perhaps accompanied by a series of virgin martyrs in the tracery lights above, including the figure of St Agatha now in I 1b, the fragmentary figure in I 1c, and the head of a female saint in I F1. 20 The possible presence mentioned above of the six lines of the Nunc dimittis in the heads of the east windows of the transepts, nIV and sIV, suggests that they accompanied an Infancy cycle, probably in nIV, with a Passion series in sIV, since the Nunc dimittis, as well as coming from St Luke’s account of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, also alludes to Mary’s future sorrow at Christ’s suffering in the Passion. 21 Moreover, the priestly and valedictory theme of the text would have been relevant to the donor figure of the rector that Blomefield and Parkin recorded in nIV. 22

In sV, the south window of the south transept, would have been the angel with part of the opening of the anthem Assumpta est Maria in caelum, gaudent angeli laudentes benedicunt Dominum, sung on the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Sarum Breviary. 23 Unlike the other angels, this one looks down at the scene below, and the panel contains two small angels with hands raised, such as accompany Assumption scenes, and also rays from the glory that would have surrounded the Virgin, suggesting strongly that in the main lights were scenes relating to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, perhaps including also her death and funeral, as at Norwich, St Peter Mancroft. 24 In the central tracery lights above would have been the final event in the narrative sequence depicted across four windows, the Coronation of the Virgin, possibly that now in B2–3 of the west window. The remaining angel carrying a text, now in nV 4d, may also have been in this window. The text is the first part of the antiphon ‘Gaudent in celis anime Sanctorum, qui Christi vestigia sunt secuti’. This occurs in the Sarum Breviary at the Feast of Several Martyrs, and suggests that the tracery lights of nV also had a series of male martyrs to match the female martyrs in sV. 25 None of these have survived. Some or all of the angels from tracery lights now in nII A3–4, sV D1, and west window A2 and A6, may have been placed above the Nunc dimittis texts in nIV and sIV.

The remains of two further series of fifteenth-century tracery-light panels can be assigned to the nave windows: the Old Testament kings and patriarchs in I B2–3 and 1a, and the Apostles in I 1a, 1c, 2a, and 2c. The architecture and window layout of the nave and transepts here are almost identical to those at Stody Church, where there is slightly earlier glass by the same workshop and where the donor, Ralph Lampet, was well known to the Paston family, the patrons at Hungate. 26 On the north side of the nave at Stody are two four-light windows as here. Window sIV has a series of six Apostles in the tracery lights, either side of a Coronation of the Virgin drawn from the same cartoon as that at Hungate, now in the west window; a further six Apostles and an Annunciation were probably opposite in sIV. In the tracery of nV is a series of Old Testament kings and patriarchs, probably completed in sV by a further set. The surviving Old Testament figures and Apostles at Hungate may well have filled the tracery lights of the four nave windows in a similar way. 27 At Stody there were standing figures of saints in the main lights of the nave windows, including St Christopher in nV opposite the door; part of a small figure of St Christopher now in nIII 1–2a at Hungate may have been in the central quatrefoil of nVII. The only hint of what may have been in the main lights of the nave below the springing is a fragment of a fifteenth-century doctor of the church. 28 Since the heads of the main lights of the transept windows had angels with texts, the fifteenth-century canopy tops with seated lions now in nII would have come from one or more of the nave windows. All the fifteenth-century glass appears to be of the same date and style, c.1460 – c.1465.

By the end of the sixteenth century, the church was in a very bad condition, and in 1602 the chancel windows were in danger of collapse. Two years later the chancel roof fell in and the walls were damaged. 29 However, the tradition that the chancel was subsequently totally rebuilt is false: substantial parts of its medieval fabric and glazing still survive. 30 Kirkpatrick described the glass in 1712, and Blomefield and Parkin about thirty years later; some of what they saw is now missing. The church appears unusually to have been kept in a better state of preservation in the eighteenth century, but economic decline in the parish and local disputes in the next century once again led to decay. In 1834, the antiquary Dawson Turner recorded the recent loss of the heraldic glass, except for a few fragments on the floor. In 1902, the condition of the church was so decayed that it was closed and most of the glass removed for safe-keeping to the church of St Michael at Plea. Impending demolition, however, provoked a rescue campaign in 1904, and the glass was releaded by G. A. King and replaced in the church, mostly in the east window. 31 In 1933, the church became a museum of church art. Glass from other Norfolk churches and from abroad was displayed in the museum, but in 2001 this delightful and popular museum was declared to be ‘surplus to the requirements’ of the Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service, was closed and the glass not in the church windows put into store. 32

The medieval glass not in the east window was releaded by G. King and Son in 1965. Several windows in the church have fragments of medieval glass set into the borders of the main lights below springing. In such cases, each main light is catalogued as a whole and the measurements given to the springing.


Pevsner and Wilson 1997, p. 247; Woodman, survey; will of John Dapelyn, mason, NCC Aleyn 77, cited in Cotton 1987, p. 50. Young and Goreham (1969, pp. 5, 25) say that the chancel was completed in 1431, citing an entry in the ‘Book of Mayors’ for that year. This reference cannot be found in the various MSS in NRO known by this title, and one suspects a possible confusion with the entry for 1431 in NRO, MS 11285 (Chronological List of Bailiffs and Mayors 1275-1715): ‘This year St Peter’s of Mancroft Church was built’. Return to context
Blomefield and Parkin 1805–10, IV, p. 330; King 2006, pp. liv–lxiii. Return to context
Blomefield and Parkin 1805–10, IV, pp. 330–31. In 1497, Nicholas Ingham asked in his will to be buried in the new porch; see NRO, NCC Wight 2, and Cattermole and Cotton 1983, p. 259. Return to context
For the reredos, see the 1530 will of John Kempe; NRO, NCC, Palgrave 137–38. For the carpet, see the 1510 will of Dame Anne Heydon; PRO, PCC, Bennett 28. Woodman's Survey, suggests that the stonework of all the side windows of the chancel dates from c.1450–1500; the present writer would suggest that nIII and sIII are coeval with their glazing of c.1522, that sII is of similar or slightly earlier date, and that nII may be the earliest having been made some time before it was glazed in 1522. Window I also probably dates from c.1522. Return to context
For a balanced discussion of the disputed date and stylistic origins of the Erpingham gate, see Sekules 1996. Return to context
DNB, XLII, p. 993. Return to context
Blomefield and Parkin 1805–10, IV, p. 330. Return to context
Nichols 2002, p. 251. Return to context
King 1907, p. 206. Return to context
Blomefield and Parkin 1805–10, IV, p. 330. Return to context
Ibid., p. 331. Return to context
NRO, Fitch Collection, MS T150 D, 5; Blomefield and Parkin 1805–10, IV, p. 330. Return to context
Kirkpatrick, notes; Ewing 1852, p. 222. Return to context
The east chancel windows of nearby St Andrew’s church, c.1515 – c.1525, and of St Stephen’s church in Norwich, 1533, were of five lights and had typological Crucifixions, with Old Testament scenes in the outer lights (King 2006, pp. clvi–clix). The roughly contemporary three-light east window at Hungate could have had a Crucifixion without typological scenes. An alternative would have been a Tree of Jesse, and I 3b has a fragment of vine branches and leaves with part of a name on a scroll that could have come from such a window; there is also a fragment with a vine leaf in I 3c. Return to context
For the relevance of a window in this position depicting St Peter, to whom the church is dedicated, see King 2006, p. clxvi. Return to context
See the introduction, and King 2006, pp. clx–clxi. Return to context
Woodforde 1950, pp. 137–38. Return to context
Luke, II, 29–32. The probably in situ but fragmentary panel of the Lamb of God in nIV B1 would have been a suitable motif to have been placed above an Infancy cycle. Return to context
It was also used at second vespers on the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin, when that feast was after Sexagesima, but the panel could not have accompanied that scene in the suggested reconstruction, as the Nunc dimittis texts would have been over the Infancy of Christ; Woodforde 1950, p. 179. Return to context
Sarum Breviary, II, col. 698. Return to context
King 2006, p. 170. Return to context
Blomefield and Parkin 1805–10, IV, p. 330. Fragments of two panels from an Infancy cycle survive at Hungate: the head of Gabriel from a main-light Annunciation, now in I 2b, and 'Balthasar' on a scroll in blackletter in nV 1–4b, from a depiction of the three Magi. Return to context
Proctor and Wordsworth, 1886, col. 698. Return to context
See the introduction to the Toppes Window in King 2006, pp. clxix–cxcvii. Return to context
Procter and Wordsworth 1879, II, col. 396, and 1886, III, col. 451. If the Coronation of the Virgin now in the west window was in sV A4–5, A3 and would have been occupied by censing angels, as part of one is inserted into the figure of God the Father in B3, leaving room for only four other figures in A1–2 and A7–8. Return to context
Wedgwood 1936, p. 524. See also Gairdner 1986, II, pp. 134, 149; III, pp. 74, 162, 264; IV, pp. 72–73, 102, 237. Return to context
At Hungate, the Annunciation and Coronation of the Virgin accompanying the Apostles may have been reversed to match disposition of those scenes in the transepts. If there was a Coronation in the nave, it was not that in the west window; see n. 25. Return to context
The head of a main-light figure of St Gregory in I 3b. Return to context
Young and Goreham 1969, p. 13. Return to context
Woodman, survey. Return to context
Young and Goreham 1969, pp. 19–22; King 1907, p. 205. Return to context
Young and Goreham 1969, p. 22; Norfolk County Council, ‘Report of the Norfolk Joint Museums Committee’, meeting held 19 January 2001’, paragraph 1.6, available on line at (accessed 27 November 2008). Return to context
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