S JAMES, TWYCROSS, LEICS
From the outside, this dark stone church looks typical of what one sees in villages across the East Midlands, with a stocky Perp tower complementing a building mainly in the 14th c. style. The interior was the subject of a very early Victorian restoration in 1840 at the expense of Earl Howe, is commemorated by a plaque on the family box pews. The west gallery supports the organ and also a splendidly carved and coloured Royal Arms of the restoration.
What you come here for is the East window. Presented to the church by Sir Walter Waller in 1840, it contains the finest collection of early mediaeval Continental glass you could want to see. After the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, many continental churches were in a bad state, and some people took the opportunity to bring furnishings to a safer home in England (e.g. ND July 2013, Cockayne Hatley). One of those was a German settled in Norwich, Johann Christoph Hampp. The best pieces are in the centre light – the Presentation in the Temple (Luke 2: 22-38), originally in the Lady Chapel of St. Denis, Paris (c. 1145), quite beautiful in its clarity and simplicity, and about the earliest glass in the country. Below it are two panels from the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris (1243-1248), Christ taken down from the Cross (John 19:38-42) and two of Moses’ twelve spies carrying the grapes on their return from the land of Canaan (Numbers 13: 23). More glass from the Ste. Chapelle is in the flanking lights, along with a pane from the choir of Le Mans Cathedral. Despite being ennobled by Simon Jenkins, Twycross church does not seem to get many visitors, which is a shame. Definitely vaut la visite, and not just for the glass.
Map Reference: SK322070