Court rules on Pugin window

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The Independent Online
A VICTORIAN church window designed by the architect Pugin has been banished from public view after a church court quashed an appeal to save it.

Three judges agreed yesterday that the great west window of Sherborne Abbey, Dorset, was too "badly worn" and "botched up" to save. Judge John Owen, presiding over the ecclesiastical Court of the Arches at St Mary Le Bow church, London, upheld a ruling made last July allowing the 1851 window to be replaced.

The stained glass window in the Anglican church has been at the centre of an unholy row between the Victorian Society and the abbey's vicar for six years.

The Rev Eric Woods had pressed for the leaky window's replacement after a schoolboy said the faded faces of its Old Testament figures reminded him of Mr Blobby.

But the Victorian Society argued the window was of important and rare artistic merit and should remain in the church.

Timothy Briden, representing the Victorian society, told the court yesterday it would cost pounds 150,000 to replace the window, three times the repair cost.

He added that parishioners would regret their decision to replace the Pugin with a modern window by John Hayward.

"If one looks at Pugin windows in terms of being an endangered species then the stock is running rather too low for comfort," he said.

The Rev Woods said the Victorian Society did not understand the wishes of the Sherborne parishioners.

"The window lets the whole church down," he said. "It's the last impression a visitor gets on leaving the church and it's not a happy one.

"It takes a very great deal to get the people of Sherborne to agree to anything. Even a layer of dust will lead to an inquiry as to whether it is historic and valuable dust. We are not people to go in for rapid change."

The court ruled the Victorian Society should pay the abbey pounds 2,500 but that the abbey should pay costs.

After the hearing, Mr Woods said he was "extremely relieved" and would not miss the "worn out" faces of the old prophets.

William Filmer-Sankey, director of the Victorian Society, was furious with the verdict and said: "The parishioners of Sherborne have a tremendous responsibility and they are not taking it seriously."

The Court agreed Pugin's window should now be removed from public view and put in the repository at the Worshipful Company of Glaziers in the City of London.