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Henry Gyles, glass painter, talk at HAHS

Helmsley Archaeological and Historical Society‘s winter programme resumes on Friday week with a talk by Susan Harrison, Curator (collections) North Territory, English Heritage, entitled “An Honest Gyles”. This talk will focus on a window made by the eminent glass painter of York, Henry Gyles, in 1699 and reveal the story of its discovery, research, conservation and display.

Henry Gyles (1640?-1709) was born in York, and lived there in Micklegate. He is credited with “the revival of the art of pictorial glass painting, which had become quite extinct in England.” His earliest dated work (1682) is the large west window of York Guildhall, and his best known the east window in the chapel of University College, Oxford, (1687).  According to the Dictionary of National Biography, however, “Gyles was not particularly successful in colour or design, and little of his work can now be appreciated, owing to the perishable enamels which he employed.” We wonder if the speaker will agree with that!

Susan Harrison is well-known to HAHS, being the curator of the English Heritage store in Helmsley,which you may have visited (and if not, we recommend that you do, tours are regularly on offer). She has spoken to the Society before about the store and her work there.

At risk of stealing Susan’s thunder, we can tell you that the window in question comes from Belsay Hall in Northumberland, and looks like this (although the picture doesn’t really do it justice). It is now in the care of English Heritage and Susan has (jointly with a colleague) written a research report on it, so is sure to be extremely well-informed.  You can find more on the window here, but Susan’s talk will go beyond the glass to the fascinating story of how it came to be preserved.

Friday January 20 at 7.30 pm, at the Committee Room of the North York Moors National Park Offices at Helmsley, courtesy of NYMNPA.  Non members are very welcome.

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