Stained glass windows from Canterbury Cathedral go on display at British Museum

The British Museum has put on show an entire stained glass window from Canterbury Cathedral ahead of its reopening.

The 800-year-old window, which is on loan, will form part of the London museum’s Thomas Becket: Murder And The Making Of A Saint exhibition.

The six-metre tall window is normally displayed vertically in the cathedral, however, in the exhibition the scenes have been arranged horizontally in four sections to allow visitors to view it up close.

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The window has never before left Canterbury Cathedral, the museum said in a statement.

The exhibition looks back at the life and legacy of the saint Thomas Beckett, who was killed at the cathedral in 1170.

Lloyd de Beer, co-curator of the exhibition, said: “After 800 years of welcoming pilgrims at Canterbury, this beautiful medieval window has made a pilgrimage of its own, coming to London to be seen alongside one hundred other objects connected to the life and legacy of Thomas Becket.

“By displaying it horizontally, visitors have the chance to see it in a way millions of pilgrims over the centuries haven’t been able to.

“It really is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

Coronavirus – Tue May 11, 2021
The windows, which in the cathedral are arranged vertically, have been arranged side by side (Victoria Jones/PA)

Leonie Seliger, director of stained glass conservation at Canterbury Cathedral, said: “Being six metres tall, the top part of the window is usually pretty much out of sight in the cathedral, and you need binoculars to see it.

“But this exciting new display in the British Museum means no binoculars are needed.

“It’s now all at eye level, so visitors can see every part of it and see that it is filled with the most wonderful details that people would otherwise miss.

“Only a select few have ever been able to see it up close like this over the past 800 years.

“It is a wonderful moment for us.”

Thomas Becket: Murder And The Making Of A Saint opens on May 20.