The Painted Window

Lydiard House contains many exquisite and fascinating items, but none more so than the painted window in the dressing room. This is a remnant of the older manor house which stood on this site before 1740. The window was created for Sir John St. John 1st Bart. by the master glass painter Abraham Van Linge, a Huguenot artist who came from the Netherlands. Sir John also commissioned him to create the painted glass for the East windows in St. Mary’s Lydiard Tregoze and St. Mary’s Church Battersea.

Dated to 1630, the window contains over 100 diamond shaped ‘quarries’ (pieces of glass) exquisitely painted in bright enamel colours. Each is different. They depict mermaids, centaurs and satyrs; people hunting; exotic fruit and flowers; and wild and domestic animals. The majority are copied from 16th and early 17th century prints with the glass being painted on both sides to enhance the three-dimensional effect. In a few places Van Linge has painted flies into the glass, deceiving the viewer.

When the house was remodelled in the 1740’s the family clearly felt the window should be retained, though they did have it trimmed down and an arch imposed. The species of flowers and fruit depicted were identified by gardeners restoring Lydiard park’s walled garden in 2005/6. These include the English iris, the snake’s head fritillary, the European olive and a pomegranate.

Next time you visit the house, check out the painted window with its exquisite little images and see if you can find the elephant, the knight and all the other fascinating figures!