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Experts’ investigation finds evidence that window fragments date back 800 years
A Bradford church celebrating its centenary has just discovered it has the oldest stained glass in the diocese.
Stained glass experts have all agreed the fragments that form part of five windows in the Lady Chapel at St Chad’s Church,Toller Lane, date back more than 800 years.
The glass is believed to have been excavated from St Augustine’s Abbey ruins in Canterbury in 1913, probably by Walter McCready, who later became St Chad’s first curate in 1910.
St Chad’s property manager David Rayner said experts had found evidence the glass, which can be seen in crosses in the windows, had been buried at some point.
“This detail shows it to accord well with Canterbury glass and it is said to have probably been made in Normandy,” he added.
Present-day vicar Canon Ralph Crowe who, after 44 years is the diocese’s longest-serving parish priest, said: “We always knew the glass was medieval but we didn’t know it was old as it was!”
Canon Crowe said the church had just undergone a £160,000 restoration with help from English Heritage, Yorkshire Historic Churches Trust and the diocese.
“We’ve got the outside of the building as good as we can in time for the centenary celebrations but we’ve just about cleaned ourselves out of funds – even though there is still more to be done.”
Early congregations met in a house in nearby Whetley Lane in 1904 and moved to a school room in Toller Lane and a temporary iron building before the present church was consecrated in 1913.
The Basilica-shaped church is also known for its mosaics, and Canon Crowe says restoring them could be the next project.
Three bishops will be helping the congregation celebrate their three-day anniversary weekend when it starts on Friday with a Centenary Mass of Dedication led by the Bishop of Beverley, the Right Rev Glyn Webster, at 7.30pm.
The events on Saturday will include a gift day in the morning, a service of animal blessing at 2.30pm and Choral Evensong at 6.30pm, when the preacher will be the Bishop of Bradford, the Right Rev Nick Baines.
A former Bishop of Beverley, the Right Rev John Gaisford, will preach at a Solemn Sung Mass on Sunday at 10.45am.