A local family plan to host an event to save an historically important 17th century painted window in a Norman church.
St Mary the Virgin church in Stopham has been open since the 11th century and became part of the Barttelot estate in 1379 when John Barttelot married Joan de Stoppa.
Six hundred years later and the Barttelots continue to live in the village and look after St Mary’s where their ancestors have been laid to rest.
Sir Brian Barttelot said the window that commemorates the Stopham and Barttelot family is in dire need of restoration, but will involve a long and delicate process that could cost up to £15,000.
“It was made in 1630 by Roeland Flemish. Some parts of the window were restored in 1853,” he said.
“We have to go to the Diocese if we want to make any structural changes, because it needs so much care.
“They felt we needed to consult the Church Buildings Council, who then sent their experts down.”
The window, which is part painted and part stained, will have to be removed piece-by-piece and sent to specialist Keith Barley, based in York, who is known for his work at Westminster Abbey.
Sir Brian continued: “Because it’s painted and so delicate we’ll need a guard placed behind it for protection.”
Lifting a carpet down the centre aisle of the church, Sir Brian revealed plaques dedicated to his ancestors that have been incorporated into the floor and have remained intact since the 1300s.
“Stopham is a very small parish which my family have been managing since we have been here in 1379,” he said.
“The church has more or less become a chapel for us. All our family are married here.”
An expert had told Sir Brian that the 17 century window had been moved and fitted into another location within the church at some stage.
The image of a man kneeling down and wearing a vibrant red cloak was believed to have been added into the piece during its restoration in the 1800s.
“A brick may have been thrown through the window there. It must have been in a terrible state at the time.”
It is evident that small parts to the puzzle have been fitted to fill in the missing gaps, but to the naked eye it is hardly noticeable.
Sir Brian and his family are now organising a Wine Festival to take place on August 29 to 30. They hope to include a tour of the nearby vineyard, a tractor ride to see the animals, and plenty of food and drink. Updates and ticket information for the event will be reported in the County Times.