Blanchland Abbey Glass, image 1
Medieval geometric grisaille glass found during the 2013 excavations of the cloister and chapter house of Blanchland Abbey. ©The Archaeological Practice Ltd.

Blanchland Abbey Glass, image 2
An intact window at Blanchland Abbey Church of St Mary the Virgin, South wall, west lancet window.
The Archaeological Practice Ltd.


Blanchland Abbey Glass, image 3
Archaeological excavation of the gardens behind The Lord Crewe Arms, 2013. © TAP Ltd.

Eastgate Roman Altar
Original Location: Blanchland, Northumberland
Current Location: Private
Theme: Ritual/Religion
Period: Medieval
Date: 13th Century AD

What is it?
Pieces of painted medieval glass from Blanchland Abbey found during excavations in the grounds of The Lord Crewe Arms in 2013. Most have a geometric design known as grisaille but there are also a few fragments of coloured border strips.

What is its relevance to the North Pennines?
Blanchland Abbey was one of thirty five Premonstratensian Abbeys in England of which two are in Northumberland, the other being at Alnwick. It was founded for an abbot and twelve cannons in 1165 but suffered during the wars with Scotland and from the Black Death in the 14th century. 

After dissolution in 1539, the land was sold off and in 1704 became the property of Nathaniel, Lord Crewe, Bishop of Durham.  Under his will it passed into the ownership of the charitable trust which bears his name and which still owns the village today. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the cloisters and outer court were recast as a ‘model village’ while the abbey church was altered and used as the parish church.

Why is it important?
While much of the village has been rebuilt, substantial medieval structures remain and the layout of Blanchland is based on the ground plan of the abbey, providing a unique evocation of the original monastic complex.  The Lord Crewe Arms incorporates the western and southern cloister ranges, and the 2013 excavations in the gardens behind the hotel revealed details of the cloisters and of the chapter house.

The medieval glass was found near the east range and the lack of associated lead indicates that it is likely to be debris from the dissolution when any items of value would have been removed from the abbey. The grisaille design on much of the glass combines foliage with a cross-hatched background to reduce the light permeating through. 

Very little stained and painted glass from abbeys of the Premonstratensian Order survives so the finds from Blanchland provide important additional information about designs used in the north of England.

Further Information
    Text References:
  • Blanchland Abbey, Report on Archaeological Investigations in 2012-14.  The Archaeological Practice Ltd.

  • External Links:


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