Medieval glass windows cleaned after 600 years
MEMBERS of a Neath Valley church can see clearly once more.
Colourful medieval stained glass windows in Glynneath's St Cadoc's Church are being put back in place after they were removed for cleaning — for the first time in about 600 years.
The conservation of the windows is part of a larger £230,000 building project to make repairs and to conserve this historic part of the church.
The Rev Peter Lewis, vicar for the Vale of Neath parish, said the medieval glass underwent specialised cleaning procedures by a firm in North Wales.
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"The glass was taken away in September to be restored and the windows were replaced with temporary boarding," he said. "They had not been cleaned in around 600 years.
"They are now being reinstalled in the church.
"We are looking forward to having them back."
Two years ago it was established that the central four panels for the church's east stained glass window were in fact from the cloisters of the former Premonstratensian abbey of Steinfeld in the Effiel area of Germany.
They were painted between 1530 and 1542 and show abbots and monks being presented to or by saints. The panels were removed under orders from Napoleon to raise money for his wars, and were eventually bought by a British man who sold them on to gentry.
Mr Lewis added that the church's restoration was going well.
Conservators have restored the wooden communion rail back to its original dimension and the church has a new hymn book cupboard.
The church has put in an application to install an improved lighting system and further major building work will start this Easter.
"There is a lot of work going on at the church at the moment," said Mr Lewis.
"We have had a new carpet and the windows in place will be another thing done.
"The funding is all in place from donations, Cadw (the Welsh historic monuments body), the Heritage Lottery Fund and other grant-making bodies, and the work will result in St Cadoc's being restored as an example of a gentry Georgian chapel."
The church was nearly struck by flooding earlier in the week when storms hit the county.
Mr Lewis said firefighters were called to the church after rain water gathered outside.
"A lot of water had been coming down from the mountain nearby," he said.
"We have got a pump in the church area but the water was around six to eight inches outside the church.
"We didn't want it getting in."