Former mill to house stained glass studio
THE largest and most prestigious studio for stained glass in the country is moving into an old mill building in Wells.
Holy Well Glass, which was granted a Royal Warrant in April, has been operating in Wells since 1995. It specialises in the conservation of stained glass in historic buildings across the country.
With a dedicated team ranging from apprentices to people with more than 30 years’ experience, the company is relocating from Lovers Walk to the more spacious former premises of Wells Trading Post in West Street.
“We’ve been at the site in Lovers Walk for 19 years but we’ve outgrown it somewhat and space was a concern,” said co-director Jack Clare, whose father and fellow director Steve set up the company.
“We’re looking to expand our role as a design studio, taking on more work of this nature and creating a national stained glass design hub for artists to see their designs realised.”
Holy Well Glass is renowned as a centre of excellence in the UK, and is the only royally appointed stained glass studio.
As well as work at Windsor Castle, the company has worked on Wells Cathedral’s Jesse Window, one of the finest examples of 14th century stained glass in Europe, and is currently working on projects for Winchester and Arundel cathedrals and the chapel at Peterhouse, Cambridge, the oldest of the university’s colleges.
Jack, a former Blue School student, said of the move into The Old Mill: “It’s hugely exciting. When I first looked round the building I just fell in love with it and thought it would make a fantastic workshop space.”
A mill on the site is mentioned in the Domesday Book, and it is said to have been built as a grain mill to feed the workers who first built Wells Cathedral. It is the only one of the five or six mills that were once in Wells that has retained its machinery. Most of the old mill workings are still intact apart from the water wheel, which blew off in a storm in the 1960s.
Jack said that Holy Well Glass studio manager Sarah Knighton is going to hand paint the building’s hanging sign with a design featuring a cross-section of the mill, otherwise the company is not planning any alterations.
“We’re involved day-to-day in the conservation of historic buildings and as such we very much appreciate the history of the mill,” said Jack.
“We very much appreciate and respect the history of the building and will ensure it remains untouched.”