English Heritage Blue Plaque To Honour John Hardman

By David Prudames | 07 November 2002
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Noli me Tangere, 1852. Originally the east window of St James Clifton, now in the Stained Glass Museum, Ely.

Left: Noli me Tangere, 1852. Originally the east window of St James Clifton, now in the Stained Glass Museum, Ely. © The Stained Glass Museum, Ely

English Heritage will unveil a Blue Plaque on Friday October 8, at the Presbytery of St Francis Church at Handsworth in Birmingham, the former home of stained glass master, John Hardman.

Renowned for his outstanding work, Hardman (1811-1867), alongside the architect Augustus Welby Pugin, was a pioneer of the stained glass revival of the nineteenth century.

Examples of his work can be found in St Chad's Cathedral, Birmingham, the Palace of Westminster in London and, famously, on the hands and numerals of Big Ben.

The Visitation, c. 1340 and 1866. From the church of St John the Baptist, Hadzor, Hereford and Worcester, now in the Stained Glass Museum, Ely.

Right: The Visitation, c. 1340 and 1866. From the church of St John the Baptist, Hadzor, Hereford and Worcester, now in the Stained Glass Museum, Ely. © The Stained Glass Museum, Ely.

The plaque will be unveiled by Mrs David Houle, President of the Pugin Society and a Hardman descendant in the presence of the Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham.

"John Hardman's collaboration with Augustus Welby Pugin made a remarkable contribution to the colourful architectural heritage which we so proudly enjoy at St Chad's Cathedral and many other churches across the country," said the Most Reverend Nichols.

"I am delighted that an English Heritage Blue Plaque is being erected at St Francis as a public record of a remarkable man to whom we all owe so much."

The Annunciation to the Virgin, c 1340. One of the finest examples of 14th century stained glass painting, the window was sensitively and skilfully restored in 1866 by John Hardman & Co.

Left: The Annunciation to the Virgin, c 1340. One of the finest examples of 14th century stained glass painting, the window was sensitively and skilfully restored in 1866 by John Hardman & Co. © The Stained Glass Museum, Ely.

"John Hardman was one of a group of laymen who were instrumental in supporting Bishop Thomas Walsh in the building of St Chad's Cathedral and the family continued its close association for several generations."

Born into a large Catholic family in Birmingham, Hardman started out as a metal worker, before Pugin - a close friend and one of the pre-eminent architects of the age - suggested branching out into precious metal work and stained glass manufacture.

Based in Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter and with Pugin as chief designer, Hardman & Co. became one of the most important of the Victorian art studios and was of key importance both nationally and internationally.

The Annunciation to the Virgin, c 1340. From the church of St John the Baptist, Hadzor. Now in the Stained Glass Museum, Ely.

Right: The Annunciation to the Virgin, c 1340. From the church of St John the Baptist, Hadzor. Now in the Stained Glass Museum, Ely. © The Stained Glass Museum, Ely.

The company's work adorns many of the churches designed and built by Pugin. At St Chad's Cathedral the 'glass makers' window (1853) shows the craftsmen at work, while the 'Immaculate Conception' (1867) depicts Hardman in choir dress, celebrating the Hardman Choir, which still sings at the cathedral today.

To have a look at the work of Hardman & Co., pay a visit to Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery where a selection of architectural metalwork by the company is on display.

Examples of their beautiful stained glass can also be seen at St Chad's Cathedral, the Handsworth Mercy Convent and the Palace of Westminster.

More on the venues and organisations we've mentioned:
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