Monthly Archives: March 2016

Return to Eden


In 2008 we decided it was time to move from Poole in Dorset on the south coast and relocate to the north. The purpose of the move was primarily to be nearer our families and then a job opportunity arose in the north which would mean less travelling for me me and Phil would also be in a position to pick up more restoration and church work at the Albion Glass studio. After much searching for the ideal place, we found Armathwaite and we knew without a doubt, this was where we wanted to be.

Phil started working  1 week in Cumbria and 3 weeks in Dorset while the house was on the market. Being 370 miles apart was difficult and so Phil painted a small watercolour incorporating themes of moving north to Armathwaite in the Eden Valley and returns to Eden as a focus for positive energy.

It took a year for the right house to find us. With all our ducks in a row and planets aligned, the house was finally sold and we began our own return to Eden.


Each year the swallows make their incredible long haul flight from Africa  and return to Eden, reminding us that summer is in its way. Last year we spotted the first to return on 12th April.


The river Eden is at the heart of Armathwaite and each year the salmon return to mate and spawn. I saw my first salmon leaping up the waterfall on my birthday in November 2009 which was the month we moved here.


A year later in 2010, we were fortunate to see dozens of wriggling elvers making their arduous pilgrimage up the Eden from their birth place in the Sargasso Sea. The water falls over an intrusion of igneous rock estimated to be 55.8 million years old.


On their journey the salmon and elvers pass through an ancient sandstone gorge with towering cliffs that have 5 faces, a salmon and a poem (a corruption of ‘The compleat angler’ by Izaak Walton 1653) carved into them. The carving of the poem is thought to be the work of a Victorian gentleman, William Mounsey and dated 1855. The faces are thought to be considerably earlier.


Trees are very close to Phil’s heart as you know! This one represents the first Eden.

And now it is finished and installed into the church. You can see ‘Spirit of the Eden 2015’ post for the preliminary design and start of the window.


A Better Vanished Time

Hand tools…….They don’t make’em the way they used to!


The process of manufacturing stained glass windows has changed little since medieval times. Admittedly an electric temperature controlled soldering iron is a vast improvement on a lump of copper heated in a fire and a tungsten carbide glass cutting wheel is also an improvement on its predecessor; the diamond tipped cutter.

The rest of the tools required are fairly standard hand tools but I prefer a tool with a bit of character and where possible a family connection.

A sharp blade (Leading knife) for cutting lead calme. I made the one pictured thirty three years ago by burning and pegging a standard putty knife blade into one of my grandfathers woodworking boxwood gouge handles. You can still just see his name  J Dutton stamped into the handle. This one was retired many years ago as the blade has become to short for practical use. It was reemployed for the leading of the Armathwaite window purely because of its historical family connections.

The oil sharpening stone was a recent inheritance and is stamped with my great grandfathers name  J W Dutton.

The strange shaped piece of wood is known as a Lathekin and is used for opening the channels of the lead sections. I made five or six thirty or so years back out of an old teak table top. It is decorated with my monogram combining the initials P S J D.

Horseshoe nails to hold the glass and lead in position on the bench before it is soldered and a hammer to knock them in. Although l mostly use the handle of the leading knife for that purpose. The hammer is a fine specimen bought locally from ‘Hillarys Antiques’.

The small plane is used to adjust the lead profile, tapering leads purely for aesthetic effect. I made mine in school metalwork class when I was aged fourteen or fifteen. The body was cast into sand moulds in aluminium (a kindly donated greenhouse), the blade was made of steel and hardened by a process l recall as ‘Case Hardening’.