That mystery plate… all is revealed!

Early in 2023 we appealed for information about a glass plate, one of a number produced for our Trust in its early days, as part of an ambitious fund-raising scheme.

We were delighted to hear first from Mark Cowley, now living in Staffordshire, but brought up near Fairford. He went from school to work for Pettis Studio Glass, and was directly involved in creating the artwork and producing the plates.   In addition to Down Ampney, he recalled plates for Fairford, Deerhurst and Selsley churches, so that told us that at least  four out of the projected twelve designs made it into production.

Mark still works in ceramic printing, and explains the process:

“The hand drawn artwork was separated into colour layers, screen stencils were produced and the enamel transfers were screen printed by hand.

Colin Senior with the plate

This transfer was then applied to a pre-cut circle of glass. Once dry, the glass was then kiln fired at 800 degrees centigrade, over a hand-cut plate-shaped mould. The glass would slump, taking the shape of the plate, and fire the enamel at the same time”.

But this was far from the end of the story.   Not long afterwards we had not one, but two further contacts with news of these rare plates.  One of these was from a collector in the US, and the other was from Marie Walker of Kings Langley, Herts.   She had the complete set of twelve plates, which she has very generously donated to the Trust.   Here is a picture of our Chair, Colin Senior, accepting the plates from Mrs Walker.

So, thanks to the amazing power of the internet, the original gift of one plate has enabled  the story of this forty-year old GHCT funding initiative to be rediscovered.  And we now have the remarkable bonus of a complete set of the plates.   Colin Senior has prepared a note for posterity, with a history of the project and a full list of the plates.

The plates look best when back-lit …. not an easy task for the photographer!   Here are pictures of the Selsley plate in daylight, and back-lit.

The Selsley plate – the original stained glass can be seen elsewhere on our website.

The Selsley plate
Back lit plate