Craigdarroch Castle Stained Glass
Craigdarroch Castle has one of North America’s finest collections of Victorian residential stained and leaded glass windows. These windows are believed to have been produced by an American studio. Art glass windows comprise an important characteristic of Craigdarroch’s decorative scheme. The majority of these windows depict floral themes in flat and rippled clear glass and American opalescent glass. Paintwork on Craigdarroch’s windows was limited to foliage and flower petals with the exception of a figural panel in the Smoking Room said to depict Sir Walter Raleigh, and another in the Drawing Room based on Sir Frederic Leighton’s exotic 1862 painting, Odalisque. All of the windows contain complex glass cuts and are assembled in unusually thin and finely soldered lead joints. The profuse use of cut crystal jewels (as opposed to the pressed glass variety) illustrates the exceptional nature of the windows.
Thirty two of the forty-seven original art glass windows are still in place. The studio responsible for them remains a mystery. An 1890 newspaper account states that the order for interior woodwork from A.H. Andrews & Co. of Chicago included “windows.” This may merely refer to the cherry window sash – but perhaps it means art glass windows too. A. H. Andrews & Co. had a department which designed and fabricated art glass windows. They also sub-contracted stained and art glass jobs to outside designers and studios. One of these may have been the Chicago firm of Healy & Millet, a design studio which gained considerable notoriety through their stained glass display at the Paris Exposition of 1889.
Sometime after Joan Dunsmuir’s death, several art windows disappeared from the Castle. The largest of these windows were removed from the Dining Room, the Sitting Room, and a bathroom. The Castle Society plans to install reproductions of all the missing stained and art glass windows at Craigdarroch. This will involve careful study of historic photographs of them.
If you would like to help us pay for these reproduction windows, please let us know!
The restoration of this National Historic Site is on going and has taken more than 30 years to get it to its current condition. Craigdarroch Castle is a “must see” for any visitor to Victoria.