Stained Glass Windows - Top of Stairs

Stained Glass Windows 

Top of Stairs 

The main stair is the primary access to the second floor. Stained oak railings line the stairs which ascend to the landing, and then split into two flanking sections which ascend the final height to the second floor. The oak panels that ring the opening in the second floor are beautifully figured and all appear to be from the same tree. Four leaded glass casement windows with transoms illuminate the landing.

Each casement window has a stained glass panel (23” high by 12” wide) depicting a scene from Tennyson’s “The Idylls of the King”, his telling of the Arthurian legends. The transoms contain passages from the text written on a scrolling banner across a shield, armor and other decoration. The western two casement windows are scenes from the poem “Lancelot and Elaine” and the eastern two depict scenes from “Geraint and Enid”. In order from west to east the scenes and accompanying text are:

·Lancelot in full armor with his head hung low riding across a stone bridge on a white horse. From a window in the extreme top right of the scene, the maiden Elaine gazes sadly down at him. The text in the accompanying transom reads:

Then Lancelot knew that she was looking at him

And yet he glanced not up nor waved his hand

Nor bade Farewell but sadly rode away

This was the one discourtesy that he used

 

Main Stair Stained Glass – Scenes from “The Idylls of the King” the story of Lancelot and Elaine

Elaine is lyine in a Viking styled ship swathed in billowy white fabric. Her head is encircled by a wreath of flowers. An attendant with back to the viewer is clad in blue and white and is making preparations to depart while her father and brothers look down on her in grief and disbelief. The text in the accompanying transom reads:

But there the fine Gawain will wonder me

And there the great Sir Lancelot muse me

Gawain who bid a thousand farewells to me Lancelot who coldly went nor bade me one

A knight (Geraint) in full armor mounted on a white horse looms over a dark knight on the ground. The mounted knight holds a broken jousting spear; the other end protrudes from the downed knight’s chest. A distressed Enid looks on from the top right of the panel. The text in the accompanying transom reads:

Struck thus the bulky bandit’s corselet home

And then brake short and down his enemy

And there lay still

 

Main Stair Stained Glass – Scenes from “The Idylls of the King” the story of Geraint and Enid

Geraint in a blue tunic sleeps sitting up, wrapped in an embellished blanket. Enid gazes anxiously out a window above him, behind her Geraint’s armor is piled. The text in the accompanying transom reads:

Then she rose and stepping lightly heaped

The pieces of his armour in one place

All to be there against a sudden need

Main Stair – Stained glass windows at landing

While the stained glass been described as “Tiffany-styled” many time over the years, initial consultations with stained glass restorers have led to the realization that the windows appear to be very high quality and of English origin. The paint is in extraordinary condition. The faces and details are finely painted and very crisp. Multiple layers of glass appear to have been used in the painted scenes to create overlays and depth. Stylistically the windows have much in common with the English Arts and Crafts movement and the pre-Raphaelite style of painting that was translated into stained glass at the time. The windows bear some stylistic similarities to early (William) Morris and Company stained glass windows, particularly those designed by Edward Burne-Jones. Morris and Company were known to have produced author portraits for installation in upper windows of private libraries and also to have produced windows depicting Lancelot and Elaine, as well as a memorial window for Tennyson himself. Edward Burne-Jones was the designer for much of this work. Burne-Jones and another designer named J.M. Allen worked for the firm Barraud and Lavers, a firm whose origins pre-date Morris and Company. Barraud and Lavers’ firm is also known to have produced stained glass depicting scenes from Tennyson’s “The Idylls of the King”, designed by Allen. Since the Dillon’s were known to collect European antiques to furnish the house, it is plausible that these windows were another of their purchases. More research will be necessary to positively authenticate them, but the circumstantial evidence is compelling enough to warrant that extra care be taken with these windows and the Library windows.

Idylls of the King, published between 1859 and 1885, is a cycle of twelve narrative poems by the English poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–1892; Poet Laureate from 1850) which retells the legend of King Arthur, his knights, his love for Guinevere and her tragic betrayal of him, and the rise and fall of Arthur's kingdom. The whole work recounts Arthur's attempt and failure to lift up mankind and create a perfect kingdom, from his coming to power to his death at the hands of the traitor Mordred. Individual poems detail the deeds of various knights, including Lancelot, Geraint, Galahad, and Balin and Balan, and also Merlin and the Lady of the Lake. There is little transition between Idylls, but the central figure of Arthur links all the stories. The poems were dedicated to the late Albert, Prince Consort. The Idylls are written in blank verse. Tennyson's descriptions of nature are derived from observations of his own surroundings, collected over the course of many years. The dramatic narratives are not an epic either in structure or tone, but derive elegiac sadness in the style of the idylls of Theocritus. Idylls of the King is often read as an allegory of the societal conflicts in Britain during the mid-Victorian era.