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Stained-glass window removed during Second World War returned to church near Sittingbourne

A stained-glass window removed from a church for its own safety during the Second World War is on its way home.

The spectacular depiction of the crucifixion of Christ is being returned to the church of St Peter and St Paul in the village of Borden near Sittingbourne.

Where the old window will go at Borden parish church
Where the old window will go at Borden parish church

Scaffolders were due to start work erecting towers inside and outside the 800-year-old building on Tuesday morning.

It is hoped the re-installation will be completed within three days.

Priest in charge, Father Robert Lane, said: “We are all so very excited that the east window is going back in this week.

“It was removed in 1944 for safe-keeping and stored in Canterbury Cathedral. Seventy-seven years later, it is being reinstated.”

The job is costing the parish £30,000.

The original east window from Borden parish church
The original east window from Borden parish church

Mr Lane said: “All the money has been found by local fundraising and grants from Friends of Kent Churches and The Cottam Trust.”

He said: “The parochial church council (PCC) had previously voted narrowly against reinstalling it about 10 years ago because it had other pressing matters. But then two years ago, out of the blue, I received a call from Canterbury Cathedral. They reminded me that they had our window and asked if we wanted it back because if not they were going to break it up and use it for spare parts.

“I immediately said we wanted it back and got onto the PCC. Everyone agreed it was the right time to bring it back."

Canterbury Cathedral disputes it ever suggested the window would be broken up. A spokesman said: "That would contravene our professional code of practise and would be completely unacceptable for an accredited conservator to suggest in a case like this."

See the first photos of the window back in place here and read the Cathedral's version of events.

Father Robert Lane, priest of Borden parish church
Father Robert Lane, priest of Borden parish church

Father Lane added: “The whole parish has been behind it. People have been falling over themselves to help.

“Hengist Field Care Centre gave us £500 from the proceeds of a summer fete and one family donated £500 after having a baptism service at the church. We have also had anonymous cheques for £1,000 and £5,000 from parishioners. It has been incredible.”

The parish began by employing a firm from Folkestone to start the painstaking work of putting the pieces back together again. But when Canterbury Cathedral objected to the choice the parish switched to Susan McCarthy of AuraVisions in Saffron Walden. Canterbury Cathedral disputes this version, too.

Mr Lane and his partner Chris Andrews drove the nine panels and a wooden crate of ‘spares’ to the studio in the back of his car. It took 10 months to restore the window which was created by the Clutterbuck glass factory of Maryland Point, Stratford, East London about 150 years ago. The factory was run by Charles Edmund Clutterbuck and his son Charles Edmund Clutterbuck Jr.

There is another Clutterbuck window in the church. Mr Lane said: “I have no idea why the PCC only voted to save one.”

Read more: All the latest news from Sittingbourne

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