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Morris & Co Stained Glass Comes Home to Stockport

LONDON.- Six stained glass windows that were originally housed in the chapel of Stockport's Cheadle Royal Hospital have been returned to the area. Made by renowned decorative arts firm Morris & Co, they were acquired by the Stockport Story Museum with the help of a grant of £50,000 from independent charity The Art Fund towards a total cost of £93,000.

Four of the windows were designed by Edward Burne-Jones and one by William Morris, both of whom were eminent artists of the Pre-Raphaelite movement and founding members of British design company Morris & Co. The sixth was designed by John Henry Dearle, who was an apprentice to William Morris before becoming Art Director and principal stained glass designer at the company.

Andrew Macdonald, Acting Director of The Art Fund, said: “Morris & Co were particularly renowned for their stained glass work and these are striking examples originally made for the Cheadle Royal Hospital, which was designed with the comfort and wellbeing of its troubled patients in mind. I’m delighted that The Art Fund has been able to help Stockport Story Museum keep them together in the area for which they were created.”

Norman Hudson, Service Director for Regeneration & Leisure, at Stockport Council, said: “We are absolutely thrilled that we have been able to acquire these Morris & Co windows for Stockport's collections with the very generous assistance of The Art Fund. It is fitting that these works, which are of great local and national importance, will once more be placed on display in Stockport exactly 100 years after they were first manufactured.

“After a period of almost 8 years, during which they were stored, they will once again be publicly accessible, and in their new display location at Stockport Story Museum, they will arguably be seen and enjoyed by a great many more people. We expect that many people will come to the museum especially to see these important works of art.”

The six windows are expected to go on public display at the Stockport Story Museum in December 2009.

The Burne-Jones pieces, from cartoons originally drawn between1868 – 1876, include a narrative scene portraying a seated Jesus blessing the children at his feet. The three others depict St. Peter, Virgin Mary and Christ Child, and St. James the Greater respectively and share a background motif of diamond-shaped panels of light green foliage that is highly typical of the Morris & Co style.

The William Morris window shows two minstrel angels, one playing a dulcimer and the other a pair of pipes. The final piece, which is slightly damaged and incomplete, is part of a John Henry Dearle window depicting Christ’s ascension.

The windows were produced by Morris & Co between 1909 – 1915 for the Cheadle Royal Hospital Chapel. The hospital, which was originally known as the Manchester Royal Lunatic Asylum, plays an important role in the history of the enlightened treatment of mentally ill patients during the 19th century. It was the first psychiatric hospital to accept voluntary patients. In 2001 the hospital was bought by a private health company, which converted the chapel to other uses and removed and sold almost all its glass.

Ann Coffey, MP for Stockport, said: “I am delighted that The Art Fund has provided this substantial grant to enable these beautiful stained glass windows to come home to the Stockport Story Museum. I look forward to going to see the artwork when it goes on display at the museum at the end of the year.”

The Art Fund has previously helped museums and galleries around the country to acquire 32 items by Edward Burne-Jones, William Morris and Morris & Co with grants totalling over £150,000. Most recently, the V&A received £30,000 towards the acquisition of two rare Morris wallpaper designs.

The Art Fund | Stockport Story Museum | Andrew Macdonald | Morris & Co |

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