Alton Towers Restoration Of Banqueting Hall Window
Sunday 23rd May 2021
Alton Towers Resort and its Heritage Committee are passionate about the continual restoration of both the Grade II★ listed Towers (a key building of the Georgian and Victorian Gothic Revival) and the Grade I listed Gardens.
The Banqueting Hall Window
Expensive inheritance battles, as well as a changing financial and social climate led to much of the estate’s land and house contents being sold in the 1900s (a fate that befell many stately homes). In its heyday (1850’s) Alton Towers was one of the largest privately owned houses in Europe and when the 16th Earl, John Talbot was planning to alter the dining room, Augustus Welby Pugin persuaded him not to compromise on the design, including the installation of a hugely impressive bay window.
The iconic banqueting hall bay window is Pugin (Victorian Gothic Revival) in style, and measures roughly 10m tall by 6m wide - the largest of its kind to be designed by Pugin for a private house!
The 27 stained glass panes are arranged in three tiers, the top two tiers celebrating the coats of arms of the Earls of Shrewsbury and the families they were associated with (we’ve highlighted the names of the coats of arms to make them easier to see; please note spellings of some of the names differ from the way we spell them today). Historically, it is the most important window of its kind outside the Palace of Westminster!
The window was last removed in 2010 for refurbishment, however, at this time, the original manufacturers of the stained glass (Hardman’s of Birmingham) went out of business. Fortunately, two of Hardman’s former craftsmen were found and commissioned to restore it. To give you an understanding of the craftmanship involved, here’s a before and after of the one segment of the window:
After several years of painstaking work, the restored window will now return to its home, 170 years after it was originally installed.