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View from Thorney Abbey, 1967 (MoC101/68)

Thorney Abbey & Abbey House

History of Thorney Abbey

Listed Building:

Late C16 house (Abbey House) to east and 1660 west wing (Thorney Abbey) with connecting range. The west wing was built in 1660 and designed by Peter Mills (architect of Thorpe Hall) with John Lovin as the builder, or perhaps designed by Lovin himself.

Proceedings CAS 64 has a report on ‘The Group of Foreign Stained Glass Windows in Thorney Abbey Church’. The panels are in the lower easternmost window on either side of the nave. They depict 1) the Denial of St Peter, 2) the Supper at Emmaus, 3) the Pietá, 4) the Mocking of Christ, 5) the Women on their way to the Sepulchre, 6) the Harrowing of the Souls in Hell. At the base of the five panels there are five inscriptions in gothic script that are certainly not English. Analysis reveals that they are a Germanic dialect spoken in 15th Cologne.

The family of Hauyser mentioned in the inscriptions was prominent in Cologne at that time. The hypothesis in the report is that the windows came via the Steelyard, a Hanseatic depot in London from the Middle Ages.

The Steelyard was taken over by agents of Queen Elizabeth in 1598 and not restored until 1606, by which time property including windows had been stolen. They were presumably sold on in London.

The windows were installed in Thorney in 1638. From about 1630 a considerable number of Dutch, Flemish, Walloon and French people began to settle in the area around Thorney. It is possible that these windows, somehow acquired,  were dedicated to this new community.


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