Thirteen is a good number for St Sampson’s Church, South Hill. All thirteen windows have been restored to their prime with the help of thirteen grant funders and three individuals. A grand total of £53,000, of which CHCT granted £3,000 in October 2020 to help get the ball rolling.
Our funding research took us in all directions and we made some fascinating discoveries. Many pleasant hours were spent wading through family trees and church records. We discovered connections all around the world, as well as a short distance down the road.
The chancel (south) window is dedicated to Major Percy John Rice (1810-1850) and Lucy Maria Elton (nee Rice) (1814- 1846), brother and sister of the then Rector of South Hill, Revd. Horace Rice. The inscription contains the words “Ah my brother! Ah my sister!” Lucy Maria was the great, great, Grandmother of Julia Rice Elton, who we traced. She was unaware of her family window but delighted to discover it.
I [Judith Ayers] have a fascination with one particular dedicatee who remains somewhat of a mystery, a woman called Mary Fookes (1754-1812). I spent many hours on a Cornish misty November morning looking at every gravestone in the churchyard to no avail, but she is here somewhere! Maybe one day someone will trace themselves to St Sampson’s church and Mary’s window.
My favourite window, for its images, is in the Manaton Chapel. The righthand side shows Edward White Benson (1829-1896), first Bishop of Truro and later Archbishop of Canterbury. St. Sampson of Dol, our patron saint, is in the centre and Frederick Temple (1821-1902), Archbishop of Canterbury after Benson, is on the left-hand side. Beneath these figures are pictures of a sower, a reaper and a gleaner representing the biblical allusions and the agricultural nature of the parish of South Hill.
In November 2021 the work to repair the windows started. What a wonderful moment in January when the first three restored windows were replaced. I don’t think anyone realised exactly how much difference it would make. No more rusty bars, no more wobbly glass panes, simply beautiful windows letting in the light and allowing us to see the trees outside.
Five more windows were taken out in the intense heatwave of August 2022 and put back in December, amid freezing temperatures. The inscriptions could all now be easily read, the colours of the stained glass vibrant and fulsome. It felt like a true honouring of the families Trehaine, Body, Dunston and my mystery lady, Mary Fookes.
The final five windows were removed in May 2023, including the East window, which was a sad sight to see boarded up, but glorious when replaced in August. By the end of September 2023 all our windows were back.
How wonderful that all our windows are now fully restored. Watching the skilled heritage craftsmen of Dan Humphries Stained glass Ltd and C.F. Piper & son at work has been amazing. Their knowledge is immense, and we are very grateful to them for the sensitive restoration that they completed. And it came in under budget!
To read the full article go to: St Sampsons windows restoration Project