The Missing Stained Glass at the Heart of Our Victorian Heritage has been Replaced

restored stained glass at Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability

30 September 2020

The Missing Stained Glass at the Heart of Our Victorian Heritage has been Replaced

The RHN is celebrating the restoration of its beautiful stained glass windows in its Victorian Assembly Room. The original windows, designed in the 1870s, were destroyed in bombing raids in the Second World War. After the war limited funds meant that the broken windows were replaced with plain glass. In recent years the windows and frames had become too fragile and were boarded up.

Using a single black-and-white archive image of the original windows, Chapel Studio worked with the Heritage of London Trust (who gave a start-up grant) to design new windows in keeping with the originals. The work cost £230k, which was raised in record time entirely through donations from generous individuals and organisations.

The surviving archive image suggested that the original Victorian windows showed stylised versions of the four seasons. Chapel Studio researched the appropriate colours for the glass as well as some of the surviving windows in the hospital. They drew up scaled designs and colours in digital format, before the studio team recreated them using traditional stained glass manufacturing techniques. The Heritage of London Trust advised throughout.

During the project, hospital patients enjoyed art sessions using different stained glass designs as inspiration which were then displayed in an exhibition at the hospital site.

The Assembly Room has been at the heart of the hospital and its community for over 150 years. The foundation stone, still in place today, was laid in 1879 by HRH the Prince of Wales. It is an archetypal grand Victorian Hall, located at the centre of the ‘Great Extension’ to the RHN. Until the Covid-19 pandemic The Assembly Room was being used daily as a space for boccia, socialising and entertainment, as well as twice weekly church services. It is an ideal space for people in wheelchairs because of its size and smooth floor, and was widely used by patients and family members as a place to relax and spend time together.

The Revd Geoff Coyne of the RHN said, “The restoration of the stained glass in this room that is at the heart of our RHN community not only keeps the ethos of the hospital’s founder alive “providing the best possible environment” but it enhances a space that is both social and spiritual giving a sense of peace and beauty.”

Dr Nicola Stacey, Director of the Heritage of London Trust, said “We are thrilled with the results of this project – it was an opportunity to restore a fantastic and colourful element of the Victorian hospital and make it work in a modern setting, for patients and their families long into the future. It’s also helped highlight the history of the hospital and all the care and detail that went into its original design.”

Laura Hobson, Conservator, Chapel Studio, said: “It’s very exciting to have a project like this to work on. The vast majority of our projects are for churches, cathedrals, university colleges as well as stately homes. But observing stained glass can be very spiritual and therapeutic and to be a part of a project to transform a space for quiet contemplation and to offer people solace is very rewarding”.

Our special thanks for their support go to

Heritage of London Trust

Orion Capital Managers

The Glaziers Trust

Kenrob Charitable Trust

Scottish Summer Ball 2018

The Swire Charitable Trust

History of the Assembly Room

  • Great Extension was opened on Saturday 13 July 1881, by H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught, Prince Arthur (1850-1942), third son of Queen Victoria.
  • The open ceremony was conducted in the Assembly Room with an enclosure created on the veranda to house the guests. 500 subscribers to the charity attended.
  • According to the 1880 Annual report, the total cost of the new wing was £25000 (roughly £1.65 million in today’s money). The builder was Mr William Goodman and the new wing would include “lighting, warming, cooking and baking apparatus, hot water service and a hydraulic lift, by Messrs Easton & Anderson”. The architects were Messrs Searle, Son, & Hayes.
  • The opening of the Great Extension was reported in various newspapers, with a report in the Graphic including illustrations of the Great Extension and the hospital, these illustrations were reproduced from artwork commissioned by the hospital, who produced them in a pamphlet for the occasion.
  • The images and report are available under a creative commons license
  • The 1917 Christmas appeal ‘Shelter Where Feeble Feet’ the Assembly Room is pictured and is described in the following passage

“[The Assembly Room] is used as an ordinary Day Room by nearly one hundred of the lady patients who are able to get downstairs. The Assembly Room is also used as a Chapel, and the Chaplain holds daily Services here. The Chaplain’s desk is at one end of the room and his congregation, including patients, nurses, and others, often fills the room. Several Bishops, and other distinguished preachers have conducted Services in this room. When an entertainment is given to the patients a platform is erected at the end of the room, opposite to the Chaplain’s desk.”

Notes to editors

The Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability (RHN)

The RHN is a well-respected charity hospital and research centre, providing care for adults with brain injuries. Founded in 1854, our Putney-based community provides specialist care, therapies and innovative technologies to meet the complex needs of people with profound disabilities. We pride ourselves on caring for our patients as individuals, offering hope, as well as practical and emotional support to them and their families.

For further information please contact Susan Patterson 07387 257737

The RHN online | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | LinkedIn

Heritage of London Trust (HOLT)

Heritage of London Trust is London’s independent heritage charity, founded in 1980. We identify, guide and fund conservation projects across the city, focusing on buildings and monuments most loved by the local community. We share interesting restoration stories with schools and young people as part of our programme Proud Places. Over the last four decades we have restored over 700 historic sites, helping keep the city’s heritage safe and accessible to all.

For further information please contact Chloe Curry on 07889 297232

HOLT online