Corpus Vitrearum Medii Aevi

Medieval Stained Glass in Great Britain

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Norfolk: Outwell, Parish Church of St Clement

O.S. TF 513037

St Clement’s church is an impressive stone-clad and embattled building constructed in several stages from the thirteenth century to the sixteenth century. The lower stage of the tower is thirteenth century. and the upper stage fourteenth century, as are the south-west aisle window (sVI) and the arcade. The rest is of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. 1 All the extant and recorded lost glass appears to have come from the eastern arm of the church including chancel, north and south chapels at the ends of the aisles, and a north transept chapel. The earliest extant glass is in the tracery of the east window, where there are fragments of c.1420 – c.1440, a date which accords with the shield seen there in the eighteenth century of Philip Morgan, Bishop of Ely 1426–35, patron of the church by right of his office. 2 In the Lynn Chapel in the north transept broken donor figures and a date of 1420 were recorded in the windows. 3 The most interesting glass, however, is of sixteenth-century date and is now to be found mainly in nV in the Fincham Chapel (St Nicholas Chapel) and sIII in the Beaupré Chapel (Lady Chapel), with a few fragments in I.

With the help of antiquarian records some of the iconographic programme of the eastern arm of the church can be reconstructed. The Lynn Chapel was probably also the Trinity Chapel. 4 This may have influenced the subject-matter of the now-lost windows, and the broken donor figures recorded there may have been guild members. An Annunciation was painted over the arch leading out of the chapel and this may have been also reflected in the glass, perhaps combining Marian and Trinitarian themes. 5

The largest gap in our knowledge of the original glazing is, as so often, the glazing of the east chancel window. The eighteenth-century antiquarians who visited Outwell recorded religious iconography as well as heraldry, but in this window they saw only the shield of Bishop Morgan, as mentioned above, and those of Beaupré and St Omer, Brandon and St George. 6 One antiquarian describes some unusual glass in the south chancel window, sII, where he saw ‘a matron in a white robe and blue mantle, on her knees, between four men; at her feet, a fox hanging on a tree, wounded in the neck with two arrows, behind and before two monkies with bows, shooting the fox’. All this he describes as an ‘antique piece of painting’, suggesting that the glass was early in date, perhaps fourteenth century. 7 The fact that the scene with the monkeys and fox was at the feet of what was presumably a donor figure may suggest that it was similar to a bas-de-page scene, rather akin to the mock funeral of the Virgin with monkeys at the base of a fourteenth-century window in York Minster. 8 If this was the case, it may have been parodying the main subject of the nearby glazing, perhaps the martyrdom of St Edmund, or, less directly, a Crucifixion. The present sII appears to be a fifteenth-century window, but the chancel was largely rebuilt in 1862–63, so an earlier window may have been replaced. 9 Nothing is known of the glazing of nII, although this position was often used in Norfolk churches to depict the patron saint (here, St Clement, who is not mentioned in the antiquarian record of the glass). 10

Our knowledge is most complete concerning the glazing of the three windows of the north chapel, nIII–nV. The east window, nIII, is of six lights with a transom, giving room for twelve main-light figures, and it has twelve tracery lights suitable for small figures or heraldry. That at least two had heraldry can be shown by the fact two small heraldic panels now in sIII both fit openings in the tracery in nIII and were recorded there. They are the arms of the diocese (Gules three coronets or) now in sIII B2, and the arms of St George (Gules a plain cross argent) now in sIII B6. 11 The angel placed over the shield in B2 does not belong with it, but probably comes from the same window. The upper part of a nimbed male saint in I B5 is in the same style as the angel and may also be from the main lights of nIII. 12 In addition to the two shields, the antiquarians also recorded here the figures of Our Saviour at the top, St Etheldreda the well-known pairing of St George with the dragon and St Michael with the devil, and another unnamed saint. Certainty on the original overall disposition of this iconography in the window is not possible. The shields are from the tracery, but the figures could have been paired with them there, or have been placed under them in the main lights. The shield of St George was accompanied by the figure of that saint, 13 the figure of St Michael would have had a matching shield in the tracery as well, and the shield of the Ely diocese or bishopric would have gone with the figure of St Etheldreda, the patron of the diocese. The male saint in I B5 was a main-light figure, but clearly not of St George or St Michael. It is also possible that part of large barrel intruded into the panel depicting Balthasar in nV 1b may be from a scene with St Nicholas, who was often shown with the three young clerics in a barrel, 14 and to whom the north chapel was dedicated. The extant glass associated with this window is in a different style from that from nV and from that in sIII in the Beaupré Chapel. It is almost certainly by foreign glaziers, most probably French or Franco-Flemish, although Germany cannot be ruled out. The double ringlet curls are the most distinguishing feature, and the glass should be dated on style to the first decade of the sixteenth century.

A much clearer picture of the lost glazing of nIV emerges from the antiquarian record. Although it is not absolutely clear whether the window was read from left to right or vice versa, the order given here corresponds with the account of the heraldic glass over nIV and nV given in one of the accounts. In light a was a main-light figure of St Ethelbert, with the arms of Fincham impaling Tendring over it; in the middle light was St Edmund, king and martyr, surmounted by the arms of Howard quartering Tendring in the Garter; and in light c, King Edward, king and confessor, with over him the arms of Fincham impaling an unidentified quarterly coat. In the tracery were Jenour impaling Fincham, Haultoft and Derham paly, and an unknown coat impaling Fincham and Haultoft quarterly. 15

This window was a pair with nV, which had a depiction of the Adoration of the Magi, the three English sainted kings in nIV providing a parallel to the three magi shown as kings in nV. 16 The full-length figure of Balthasar now in light b would have been in light c, judging by the direction of his gaze, with the Virgin and Child in light b and Caspar and Melchior in light a. Parts of the other two magi are now in other windows. The right-hand part of Caspar carrying a covered cup is in sIII B1 and the crown of Melchior, which is placed on the ground, is in I I2.

Several shields of arms were recorded in the window, the first being that of Carvile impaling Fincham quartering Haultoft, now above the magus in light b but probably from the head of light a. Up to two of the remaining shields may have been also been in the heads, with the others in the tracery. They are Holdich impaling Fincham and Derham; Fincham quartering Derham and Haultoft; and Fincham impaling Tey. In addition, there were small shields with the arms of Fincham in the tracery lights, one without the bend. 17 The style of this glass again suggests a foreign glazier, perhaps Rhenish, and somewhat later than the glass from nIV, c.1520 – c.1530. 18

The patronage of the windows in the Fincham Chapel was understandably connected with the family of that name. The family was based in Fincham in Norfolk, but in about 1485 John Fincham the Younger moved to Outwell, presumably as a result of his marriage to Elizabeth Derham, daughter of Thomas Derham and Alice Haultoft, and granddaughter of Gilbert Haultoft of Outwell and his wife Margaret, who was buried in what became the Fincham Chapel. 19 The shield on one of the stone corbels in the chapel has the arms of Fincham with a crescent for difference impaling Haultoft, suggesting a date for the building of the chapel after John Fincham’s move to Outwell c.1485 and before the death of his elder brother John in 1499, after which time he would have removed the difference. The death of John Fincham the Younger’s father in 1496 may have occasioned the change in control of this chapel from the Haultofts to the Finchams, although when John the Younger himself died in 1527, his will requested that an honest priest be found to ‘sing and qworyt’ for his soul and those of his friends in the Trinity Chapel (here assigned to the north transept chapel). 20 If a very late fifteenth-century date for the building seems likely, this fits well with the suggested style date for the glass of c.1500 – c.1510.

Windows nIV and nV together formed an iconographical unit and were probably glazed at the same time, but some time after the east window of the chapel.

The recorded heraldry relates to the grandparents of John Fincham the Younger and of his wife, but also to his elder brother John and the children of himself and his brother. John Fincham the Younger died in 1527, and his although his will makes no mention of glazing, it does seem to be connected with the iconography of the Fincham Chapel glass. There, he asks that immediately after his death his executors shall buy and provide five standing gilt-covered cups of the value of £4, which should be given to his son Symon, his daughters Alice and Jane, his nephew John Fincham, and Frances Mountforde, supervisor of his will. 21 The large standing cups held by at least two of the magi in the window would seem to be an allusion to the gilt-covered cups and suggest that the window was made after John’s death by his children and the supervisors of his will in his memory, and also that of his wife Elizabeth, who died in 1528. The fact that he asked for masses to be said in the Trinity Chapel and not the Fincham Chapel (the Chapel of St Nicholas) is perhaps surprising, but may be because he was not himself buried in the Fincham Chapel (as far as we know), as he asked in his will to be buried in the church of St Bride in Fleet Street, London, if he died in that parish; he was also a member of the Guild of the Holy Trinity. 22 His wife Elizabeth did ask to be buried in the Chapel of St Nicholas. 23

Much of the glass in the tracery lights of sIII in the Beaupré Chapel belongs to that window, and its colourful and bold design attracted unusual attention from the antiquarians, including some censure for the ‘popish’ character of its subject matter. 24 Using the evidence of the liturgical arrangement of the church, the iconography of the extant figures, the direction of gaze, the type of setting, and the colour of the backgrounds, and making judgements on which sections of each panel belong together, it is possible to suggest how the surviving figures may have been arranged and say something about the missing ones. In addition, a few comments can be made about the original main-light glazing.

The Beaupré Chapel was also the Lady Chapel, and the figure of God the Father in G1, which faces to dexter, would have been originally in G2, as part of a Coronation of the Virgin completed by the enthroned Virgin in G1. This was flanked by the two shields, of Corpus Christi and the Five Wounds, now in F1 and F2. The figures in this row would have had red backgrounds, as would the two central lights in the other two rows (C3 and C4; B4 and B5). In the middle row the two central lights would have had St Martina and St Faith, now in D5 and G2 respectively, flanked by two lost deacon saints (probably including St Vincent) on the left, and St Stephen and St Laurence on the right, all standing on plain floors. The backgrounds in the eight openings of this row would have been red, blue, red, red, red, blue, red, blue.

In the bottom row, the two central panels would again have been of female saints, the crowned and nimbed fragmentary figure now in B7, and St Ursula from B8. These would have been accompanied on the left by three English sainted kings facing to sinister, including St Olaf in B1 or B3 (now in D1), plus two lost figures, and on the right by St Oswald (now in D2) and St Walstan (now in D3) in B6 and B8 (order unknown), and St Edward the Confessor (now in B4) in B7. 25 All these figures stood within simple canopied niches on chequered paving. The backgrounds of the ten openings in this row were red, blue, red, red, red, red, blue, red, blue. The breaking of the colour counterchange in the two central lights of each register of the tracery has the function of differentiating the female saints together with the Coronation of the Virgin from the male iconography of the rest of the tracery, and also perhaps of leading the eye vertically from the suggested lost Marian iconography in the main lights below to the final Marian scene at the top of the window. There is much re-use of cartoons. The four kings use a common one, with that for St Olaf being reversed. The two deacon saints likewise have the same basic design, as do St Faith and St Ursula, and St Martina and the fragmentary female saint in B7. Details such as attributes are varied as needed.

The presence of such rare saints as Martina and Walstan indicates the input into the design of the window of somebody with knowledge of hagiography, but this could have been a cleric or educated layman. St Martina may have been chosen as she was known as a deaconess and would thus have matched the other deacons in the same row. St Walstan was a local saint, and although otherwise unknown in medieval glass, appears on several Norfolk screens. It is very probable that St Edmund, king and martyr, was among the lost sainted kings in the bottom row, perhaps with St Ethelbert; both are recorded in window nIV.

Some pieces of micro-architecture in the same style and now in C1 probably came from the main lights below, where a Marian sequence beginning with the Annunciation seems to be indicated by the dedication of the chapel and the Coronation of the Virgin at the top. 26

This is unusual glass painting and is hard to set in context. It is very striking and legible, because of its simple colour scheme, with red, blue, and white predominating, and the uncomplicated and bold modelling of the figures and drapery. The coloured backgrounds with an overall pattern of black crosses that may have been stencilled are unusual and allow the figures to stand out, as does the brightness of the white glass. A strong yellow stain adds to the boldness of palate. A certain naivety is discernible in the painting style, simplicity of settings, and drapery, the lack of inscriptions, even on the scrolls in A1 and A2, the unsubtle re-use of cartoons, and the rather careless use of yellow stain, which is frequently splashed onto parts where it should not be. Yet the realistic modelling and facial types, particularly of God the Father, also suggest that foreign glaziers were involved in or influenced the production of the glass, although of course the iconography includes English saints. Perhaps the source for this glass was an otherwise unknown sixteenth-century workshop in King’s Lynn. This would explain the rather provincial style, but also the Continental influence which must have pervaded this Hanseatic port and is perceptible in the glass. The choice of such continental saints as Ursula and Olaf, which appear in glass in West Norfolk at Sandringham and Heacham respectively, would likewise be understandable. 27

Both sIII and sIV were in the Beaupré Chapel. The Beauprés were established West Norfolk gentry who held land in Outwell and several surrounding parishes, as well as further estates in Essex acquired through marriage. 28 The glass in sIII was clearly a part of the glazing programme carried out in both the Fincham and Beaupré chapels in the first third of the sixteenth century, and looks to be more similar in date to the early sixteenth-century fragments attributed to nIII rather than the glass in nV from the third decade. The head of the Beaupré family at this time was Nicholas Beaupré, whose detailed will is dated 1513. 29 In it he left 20s. to the painting of the Lady Chapel and a further 20s. for the repair of the parclose screen that enclosed it. He also asks for his primer to be kept in the Lady Chapel ‘under lokke and key in a lytill deske whiche yf I leve I purpose to make for myself to sit inne and knele before sainte John’. He also leaves his ‘portas’ and Bible to the same chapel. There is no mention of glass, but the legacies suggest that the glazing of the refurbished Lady Chapel was already done, and attention was turning to its interior decoration and equipment. Nicholas also asked for a tomb to be made in the chapel, which can still be seen in the north-east corner, adapted by later members of the family. 30 If it can be accepted that the glass was made before his death, a date of c.1500 – c.1510 for the glass would suit both the style and circumstances.

The glass in nV was restored by G. King & Son in 1966. 31


Pevsner and Wilson 1999, p. 580. The authors of this work confuse the Lynn Chapel and the Fincham Chapel in their description. Return to context
Blomefield and Parkin 1805–10, VII, pp. 473–75. Return to context
Ibid, p. 472; BL, Add. MS 8844, ff. 79r, 80r. Return to context
There was both a guild and a chapel of the Holy Trinity in the church, and it is known that the south aisle chapel was the Lady Chapel and that that in the north was dedicated to St Nicholas; see Blomefield and Parkin 1805–10, VII, p. 473; will of John Fyncham, 1527, PRO, prob/11/22; will of Elizabeth Fyncham, 1528, PRO, prob/11/22. Return to context
Blomefield and Parkin 1805–10, VII, p. 472. Return to context
Ibid, p. 473; BL, Add. MS 8844, ff. 73r, 79v, 81r. Return to context
Blomefield and Parkin 1805–10, VII, p. 473. Return to context
For the York Minster window, see Marks 1993, pp. 85–86 and fig. 70. Return to context
Pevsner and Wilson 1999, p. 580. Return to context
King 2006, p. clxvi n. 343. Return to context
Blomefield and Parkin 1805–10, VII, p. 472; BL. Add. MS 5809, f.109v; BL, Add. MS 8844, ff. 79r, 80r–81r. Return to context
Or perhaps from the main lights of sIV; see below. Return to context
See n. 11. Return to context
As for example in the window of 1480–1500 at Ceffonds (Haute-Marne); CVMA France, Recensement IV, p. 418, fig. 399, pl. xxxi. Return to context
Blomefield and Parkin 1805–10, VII, pp. 472–73; BL, MS Add. ff. 79r, 79v, 80v, 81r. Return to context
English kings and royal saints with connections to England also appear in sIII in the Beaupré Chapel in sixteenth-century glass. For series of kings in medieval Norfolk, see Nichols 2002, pp. 317–18. For Tudor attitudes to depictions of royalty, see Horrox 2003, pp. 170–71. Return to context
Blomefield and Parkin 1805–10, VII, p. 472; BL, Add. MS, ff. 80v, 81r. Return to context
The centre of the cult of the three kings was in Cologne, a city closely linked to nearby King’s Lynn by trade and Hanseatic connections. In Cologne Cathedral the early fourteenth-century glazing of the choir clerestory combines a representation of the Adoration of the Kings in the axis window with a long series of kings in the side windows; this may have influenced the combination of kings and the Adoration in nIV and nV at Outwell; see Rode 1974, pp. 98–140, figs 235a, 241, 242; and Carus-Wilson 1973. The mother of John Fincham the Younger, who probably glazed nIII (see below), was Beatrix Thoresby, daughter of Henry Thoresby, a wealthy Lynn merchant; see Blyth 1863, p. 115. A Cologne saint, Ursula, appears at Outwell in sIII. Return to context
Blyth 1863, pp. 122–23. Return to context
Ibid, p. 116; PRO, prob/11/22. Return to context
See n. 19. Return to context
He gave 3s. 4d. to the Guild of the Holy Trinity, but only 20d. to the Guild of St Nicholas; PRO, prob/11/22. Return to context
PRO, prob/11/22. Return to context
BL, Add. MS 8844, f.79r. Return to context
One of the missing kings may have been St Edmund. He was recorded in this window by Blomefield and Parkin and would have been an automatic choice in East Anglia. St Ethelbert appeared in nIV with Edmund, and Edward and may have been the other missing king in sIII. Parkyn also saw St Anthony, but this could have been a misinterpretation of St Oswald, the bottom half of whose chalice looks like a bell. Return to context
As in the Toppes Window in St Peter Mancroft, Norwich, of c.1450–55; see King 2006, p. cxcv. Return to context
For King’s Lynn glaziers, see Woodforde 1933. For St Ursula and St Olaf, see the catalogue. Return to context
For the Beaupré lands, see Richmond 2000, pp. 18–23. Return to context
NRO, NCC, Spurlinge 93–98. Return to context
Pevsner and Wilson 1999, p. 581. Return to context
NRO (box 639, acquisition no. 2004/53), G. King & Son Work Books, job no. 5287. Return to context
Corpus Vitrearum Medii Aevi

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