Historic Stained-Glass Windows, St George's Anglican Church, Campo S.Vio
In May 2008, the Fund approved a grant to the 400th Anniversary Appeal of St. George's Anglican Church, to contribute the cost of restoration of the stained-glass windows. The Appeal, now underway for 3 years, had already achieved the complete restoration of the roof and the exterior. Once the outside scaffolding allowed them to be inspected closely, the windows had proved more problematical to restore than foreseen. Those on the Campo side particularly had been subject to the misadventures of pigeons and children's games, many panes were cracked or broken, the leading was wasted in many places, and sections were warped and threatening to fall out.
The windows are a significant feature of the building, being the full length of the upper level. Their great size and number (13 lights in all) give the church its light and airy atmosphere, and the stained-glass, unusual in other Venice churches, intentionally recalls those of England. There are seven historic windows made by the Whitefriars Glass Company, six installed during the decade from 1904. Each depicts the memorial coat-of-arms of a distinguished member of the British community inVenice. (It is interesting to speculate which other members of that community might have been so honoured, had the Great War not apparently interrupted the series).
They start from Sir Henry Wotton, King James I 's ambassador to the Serenissima passim from 1604-24, whose chaplain began the tradition of Anglican worship in Venice. Equally important is Sir Austen Henry Layard, who retired to Venice from his astonishing careers as archaeologist, politician and diplomat, and joined the board of the Venice-Murano Glass Company. He and Lady Enid Layard purchased the building from the company and led the committee which organised its conversion to our church. She is therefore appropriately remembered in a separate window. The others commemorate William Edward Collins (the Bishop of Gibraltar who consecrated the church in 1906), Robert Browning (d. Venice 1889 and whose son 'Pen' served on the committee and hosted the services during the conversion) and John Ruskin (d. 1900). The seventh is for the historian Horatio Brown, whose correspondence with Whitefriars (archived in the church) shows that he was instrumental in executing the original concept. It does not however extend to the installation of his own window! That was probably added after his death in 1926.
The Church is enormously grateful to the Venice in Peril F