Old Library: Stained Glass

Some of the Old Library stained glass is medieval and may have originally been installed in the old chapel (built 1406-08), then moved to the library after the chapel was demolished towards the end of the 17th Century. Over the centuries, the glass was moved into the West windows (overlooking Durham Quad), then transferred to the East windows in 1878.

East windows

The East wall of the Old Library has four windows that overlook the President’s Garden, each with four lights that contain a painted figure. These figures include John the Baptist, Thomas Becket of Canterbury and the four evangelists.

East window four, detailing Saints Matthew, Mark, Luke and John

The identity of the other ten figures is uncertain: they are accompanied by 19th Century inscriptions, but the authority of these is a matter of speculation. The third window contains a crest that is thought to be an early form of the Washington crest.

Panels showing Saint John the Baptist (Left) and Thomas Becket (Right). The latter is identifiable by a dagger protruding from his forehead. Above him is the Washington crest.

South Window

From records of Durham College accounts in the 15th Century, the South window is thought to have been glazed in the 1430s and some of the current glass, including Thomas Hatfield’s coat of arms, is original to the window. Much of the glass currently in the South window is made up from pieces from all over the college that were sent for cleaning and resetting to King & Co. in Norwich in the 1960s, and that were only rediscovered and returned in recent years. In 2006 an Old Member paid for the York Glaziers Trust to accommodate the recovered glass in a design for the window.


Old Library South Window. The window is made up from pieces of 14th, 15th and 16th Century glass.

West Windows

The windows on the West side of the library, overlooking Durham Quad, are made up of plain glass. The windows contain small but striking images of six saints and ten virtues, dating from the seventeenth century. They were moved to the Old Library from the Dining Hall in 1878.

West windows

West window 1, depicting four labelled figures: Obedientia, Misericordia, Diligentia and Patientia

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