Burlison and Grylls

The Hugh Oldham window in the South Aisle of St Chrysostom's, honouring him as founder of Manchester Grammar School

The Hugh Oldham window in the South Aisle of St Chrysostom’s, honouring him as founder of Manchester Grammar School

The stained glass windows of St Chrysostom’s are a special and notable feature of the Church. All those in the nave and apse of the Church, and some in the Anson Chapel, are the work of the prominent stained glass window manufacturers Burlison and Grylls.

We are grateful to Peter Moore, who not only has given us a copy of digital photographs of the windows which he has taken, but also has written the following information about the company of Burlison and Grylls. Peter, a descendant of Thomas Grylls,  is making a collection of images of the company’s work. He writes:

John Burlison (1843-1891) and  Thomas John Grylls (1845-1913) met as apprentices in the firm of Clayton & Bell, one of the largest and most ‘commercial’ of the Victorian stained glass window originators. Burlison’s father was personal assistant to the architect Sir George Gilbert Scott, and his sister married Alfred Bell. Thomas Grylls’ father was a manager for the organ builders Walker. In other words, both had promising connections, and these they exploited when, in 1868, with the encouragement of the architect G F Bodley, they set up their own stained glass firm off Oxford Street, London.

The consolidation of their partnership by John Burlison’s marriage to Elizabeth Sarah Grylls in 1870, and the large families with which both were blessed are sufficient testimony to the success of the firm over the following decades. Most of their work appears to have come from the architects who were busy restoring the medieval parish churches scattered throughout England, G F Bodley, G E Street, Gilbert Scott, father and son. As business expanded, they were able to undertake a variety of tasks involving restoration and decoration, mainly of chancel and sanctuary areas and often working to an architect’s specifications, as well as gaining a reputation for good quality restoration of old glass and a delicate and restrained style in their own glass.

Detail from the Hugh Oldham window

Detail from the Hugh Oldham window

From the early days John Burlison appears to have run the administrative side of the business: Thomas John Grylls was responsible for most of the designing, and appears to have gathered about him a small caucus of craftsmen, each with their own particular speciality, and eventually supplemented by his own talented children.
After Burlison’s death in 1891, Grylls’ eldest son Thomas Henry (Harry) took over the administration: himself talented as an heraldic artist, he was thus able to continue the firm after his father’s death in 1913, though his designs leant heavily upon his father’s tradition, and responded particularly to the demand for war memorials. Latterly business declined, and the WW2 bombing of their Great Ormond Street premises effectively brought closure.

To date, the work of Burlison & Grylls is largely undocumented: records appear to have been lost, and the windows were unsigned: thus an accurate and complete compilation is virtually impossible.

(To see a wide ranging collection of images of Burlison and Grylls work click here for the B & G Flickr group).

About stchrysostoms

St Chrysostom’s is an Anglican (Church of England) parish church in Manchester, UK. We’re an inclusive, diverse and welcoming faith community rejoicing in our Anglo Catholic tradition, where people of many differing backgrounds make friends. Find our Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/2364267899/
This entry was posted in Anglican, Art and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Burlison and Grylls

  1. The Smiling Pilgrim says:

    Very lovely 🙂

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