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Whitefriars Stained Glass Cartoon Collection

Identifier: MS-0172
This collection is comprised of full-scale cartoons for stained glass windows as well as smaller design drawings and photographs. There are 1,800 rolls of cartoons and each roll can contain a number of drawings. Some rolls have just one or two items, but it is not uncommon for there to be a dozen or more drawings in each roll. It’s estimated that altogether there are 10,000 to 15,000 works on paper in the collection. About half of the designs are for churches and residencies in England, but countries from Asia, Africa, Australia, and North America are also represented.


  • Circa 1900-1960


Language of Materials

Collection materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Many of the rolls are unavailable to researchers due to their fragility. There is an ongoing conservation and digitization project to make the cartoons accessible. Digitized items can be found using the search term "Whitefriars stained glass designs" in the Rakow Library's online catalog at

Conditions Governing Use

The Copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specified conditions is that the reproduction is not to be "used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research." If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of "fair use," that user may be liable for copyright infringement. The user agrees to defend, indemnify, and hold harmless the Corning Museum of Glass and the Rakow Research Library against all claims, demands, costs and expenses incurred by copyright infringement or any other legal or regulatory cause of action arising from the use of Library materials.


10,000-15,000 Sheets

Biographical / Historical

The Whitefriars glasshouse, located originally in London’s Whitefriars area, first produced flint glass tableware beginning around 1730. After purchase in 1834 by James Powell, the company was renamed James Powell & Sons, but would remain known colloquially as Whitefriars. The company began building a solid reputation as a premier glass manufacturer, and in 1844, Whitefriars complemented production of fine domestic glassware with the addition of a stained glass studio. Capitalizing on the Victorian-era push to refurbish existing and build new Church of England churches in gothic revival style, Whitefriars’ studio soon earned a reputation as makers of fine ecclesiastical stained glass. High profile artists such as Edward Burne-Jones, Walter Crane and Henry Holiday were commissioned to design windows for the company. Well-known architects involved with the Powells’ studio included William Butterfield, Richard Cromwell Carpenter, and Sir George Gilbert Scott, a leading gothic revival architect. Whitefriars particularly benefitted in the 1850s from a collaboration with stained glass historian Charles Winston (1814 – 1864), who studied the composition of medieval stained glass and led the Powells to develop new techniques in colored glassmaking.

In 1919 the company changed its name once again, to James Powell and Sons (Whitefriars) Ltd. In 1923 the company relocated to a larger, state-of-the-art factory building in Wealdstone, Middlesex. The company continued to thrive during the interwar years, but business dwindled after 1945. A decade later, Whitefriars once again flourished, and in the 1950s was named an outstanding British industry. In the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, high-profile artists such as William Wilson, James Hogan, Geoffrey Baxter and Peter Wheeler designed glassware for the company, creating popular lines such as the knobbly range, the “bark” series and the Peacock Studio Range.

The proliferation of poor-quality and machine-produced imitations, combined with a diminishing market for artistic glassware, gave rise to an increasingly unfavorable economic climate for the company by the 1970s. The stained glass studio closed in 1973, and although Whitefriars produced cut glass to offset losses in artistic glassware sales, the company eventually succumbed to market forces. In 1980, Whitefriars closed its doors, ending nearly 150 years of innovation and cutting edge design.

Custodial History

Gift of The Museum of London, 2008.
Whitefriars Stained Glass Cartoon Collection, circa 1900-1960
A Guide to the Collection
Mary Anne Hamblen
September 2016
Description rules
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Rakow Manuscript Collections Repository

Rakow Research Library
Corning Museum of Glass
5 Museum Way
Corning NY 14830 USA