Obituary: Dennis King

Dennis George King, restorer and stained-glass artist: born 15 May 1912; married 1935 Hilda Oakeley (two sons, one daughter); died Norwich 5 March 1995.

Dennis King was outstanding in his generation as a restorer of medieval stained glass. He was not only a master of his craft, which was enriched during his lifetime by a wide range of new techniques; he had a rare sensibility to the art of glazing as it was practised in the Middle Ages, and a total dedication to the work of restoration.

He spent his working life in Norwich, of which he was a loyal and active citizen. He was educated at Norwich School, which he left aged 15 to set up in 1927, with his father, a firm later incorporated as G. King and Son (Lead Glaziers) Ltd and established in its own workshops in King's Lane. Such was the growth of its reputation, especially from 1945 onwards, that for decades it was the first resort of those responsible for the maintenance of stained glass not only in East Anglia, but much further afield. Demands outran the capacity of the workshop, but King was reluctant to refuse his help, and would send at once to take out damaged panels and put in temporary replacements. Often enough the panels had then to be stored away until time could be found to repair them and put them back into place.

King & Son worked on many prestigious collections of medieval glass. In 1951, for instance, they tackled the complicated and delicate task of cleaning and restoring the outstanding glass of Winchester College Chapel, which had been widely scattered and much damaged; King later wrote, with John Harvey, a paper for Archaeologia (in 1971) describing the glass and the work he did on it.

In 1957 he restored and re-arranged the gallery of 15th- century figures in Long Melford Church, Suffolk, and in 1967 those at Browne's Hospital, Stamford. In 1962 he worked on the 14th-century glass in Merton College Chapel, Oxford, and throughout the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s maintained and repaired the great windows of King's College Chapel, Cambridge, as well as setting up in many of its side-chapels new arrangements of medieval panels, roundels and fragments.

A strip of glass painted to restore a broken roundel of Tobias and the Fish, for instance, would be distinguishable only by experts from the original; and when a mass of fragments from the original glazing of the Franciscan church at Cambridge was unearthed in Sidney Sussex College he made of them not a series of meaningless mosaics, as his predecessors would no doubt have done, but designs that show off their strikingly rich colours to the full.

Another roundel, in the chapel at King's, illustrates both the traditional method of repair with mending-leads and the new technique of edge-mending with silicon adhesive. It is a rare piece of Burgundian work from the 15th century showing the two cobbler saints Crispin and Crispinian. It arrived at King & Son's workshop in about 1970 in shattered state. At this stage King painted a new glass roundel, filling in the missing parts of the design; he then cut out from his copy the pieces necessary to complete the fragmented original.

When the Glaziers' Trust was set up at York in 1967, and the cathedral workshops at Canterbury, King was inevitably called in as a technical consultant. By the mid-1980s, when he was well into his seventies, a number of other firms had been established, and began to take on work that the Norwich workshop could no longer tackle. However, King continued until the last month of his life as adviser to his son Michael, who succeeded him as head of the firm.

Dennis King was made a Freeman of the City of Norwich as early as 1933, and of the City of London in 1969; he became a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1959; he was appointed OBE in 1979 for services to the conservation of stained glass. He was a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Glaziers and Painters of Glass, a member of the International Technical Committee of the Corpus Vitrearum Medii Aevi (an international record of medieval and later stained glass), and a Founder Trustee of the Ely Stained Glass Museum.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Manager - Kent - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager / Training Manager (L&D /...

HR Manager - Edgware, London - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - Edgware, Lon...

HR Manager - London - £40,000 + bonus

£32000 - £40000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Talent Manager / HR Manager - central London - £50,000

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Talent / Learning & Development Mana...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam