Divine Beauty – Conservation Project

30th August 2022

The Divine Beauty of a #StainedGlassSummer can be found in Birmingham Cathedral which has launched a unique project to conserve and better tell the story of its world-famous Pre-Raphaelite windows– and you can be part of it.

Yes – they’re recruiting!

The cathedral has been awarded £640,000 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to conserve the four windows by Birmingham-born Edward Burne-Jones and create new interpretation trails alongside an exciting programme of activity and engagement.

And they are looking to recruit two freelance/consultancy posts: a project manager and an interpretation and activities officer. You can find details here.

The project, known as Divine Beauty will see extensive conservation to the four Burne-Jones windows: The Ascension 1885, The Nativity 1887, The Crucifixion 1887, and The Last Judgement 1897.

Burne-Jones windows at Birmingham Cathedral - Divine Beauty Conservation Project

Initial funding from the Heritage Fund for detailed investigation has led to a planned programme of conservation work including the removal of the substantial build-up of debris. The unsightly protective grilles on the exterior of the four windows will be replaced with a more sympathetic and bespoke alternative.

Visitors will also be able to see the conservation work as it happens via an accessible platform.

Burne-Jones windows at Birmingham Cathedral - Divine Beauty Conservation Project

As part of a new engagement programme, actors interpreted the commissioning of the windows in front of the cathedral during the Commonwealth Games – and other plans include enhanced interpretation and work with local schools and other artists.

There will also be opportunities for people to get involved as volunteers to help tell the stories of the windows, how they were made, their history and how to care for them to ensure they are here for future generations.

Birmingham Cathedral was built as the parish church of St Philip’s over 300 years ago and these four windows were added between 1885-1897. The windows are recognised as some of the most exceptional stained-glass in the world and amongst the best examples of Birmingham artistry in the city. To protect them during the Second World War, they were removed, courtesy of Birmingham Civic Society, and placed in a slate mine in Wales for safekeeping.

Burne-Jones windows at Birmingham Cathedral - Divine Beauty Conservation Project

The Very Revd Matt Thompson, Dean of Birmingham Cathedral said:

“These windows are a remarkable inspiration to visitors and worshippers from all over the world and we are pleased to undertake this important and vital step in their preservation, thanks to the support of National Lottery players.” 

Burne-Jones windows at Birmingham Cathedral - Divine Beauty Conservation Project

Eilish McGuinness, Chief Executive of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said:

“We’re proud to continue to support the great cathedrals and churches within our communities. 

“They not only offer people a space for worship and a quiet space for reflection but are a core focus in our cities, towns and rural communities. 

“We are seeing a new movement of using these spaces in new ways that engage with more people within their communities and ensure a sustainable future by providing different sources of revenue to support their upkeep. 

“Thanks to National Lottery players, the funding to these projects will ensure these precious buildings are conserved for future generations, but will also continue to evolve and provide a vibrant future at the core of their communities.”