The Kempe Society was set up to promote interest in the work of the Master of Glass, Charles Eamer Kempe, 1837-1907 and that of his firm which specialised in stained glass design & production, as well as church decorative art of many kinds.
Stephen Dykes Bower MA,FRIBA, FSA; wrote the preface of the book on Kempe; a small extract is shown below.
"Charles Eamer Kempe's service to the art of stained glass was fully matched by opportunities for its expression. His work was no more prolific than wide ranging and versatile. He was constantly enlarging his mind and creative powers by reproduction of the good tested ideas and constantly striving with new ones. Kempe combined independence of judgement with strong conviction, both religious and artistic."
The work of Kempe's Studio can still be seen in many Cathedrals and Parish Churches in the British Isles and certain overseas as well, particularly in North America.
|In the 1860's he trained with Clayton & Bell and Thomas Baillie & Co. and set up his own studio in 1866 in Beaumont Street. Cavendish Square. London.||
|Charles Eamer Kempe was a shy retiring person except when with a few of his close friends. He had a speech impediment and never married. He was very wealthy and the fact that he started his studio and did a very full weeks work was very unusual for a man of such means. His stained glass was very highly valued in his life time and despite a lack of appreciation in past years it is now being very much more appreciated by many more people as a very distinctive and highly spiritual style.|
Kempe & Co Ltd.
On Kempe's death in 1907 the firm became Kempe & Co Ltd under the managing director Walter Ernest Tower and John William Lisle, designer and chief draughtsman who originally joined the firm in 1886. The original logo, often reproduced in the stained glass windows as a signature, is described as Gules three garbs within a bordure engrailed, -which was "a trio of golden wheatsheaves on a red background with a wavy gold border", but was eventually replaced by a single wheatsheaf usually in the bottom left hand corner of a stained glass window. On Kempe's death in 1907 this was replaced with the single golden wheatsheaf with a black tower superimposed on the head, the last one of the firms production had the tower laid on its side to denote the last of its line.
For better views and individual explanations of these logos please see the top of the stained glass page
A.E. Tombleson was apprenticed in 1867 (the year after Kempe started his studio) at the age of 16 to F. R. Leach & Co. Cambridge and by 1871 he was working both with and for Kempe, and Leach had made him foreman over all the glass hands. He then joined Kempe and was manager of the glass works. He carried on the business until the firm Kempe and Co Ltd. closed in 1934.
The Kempe Society has several facets to its being, the main one of which is to promote interest in, photographically record, and keep a watchful eye on any work produced by the firm. It also runs a Biennial conference weekend with lectures and visits to churches in the locality of the meeting place.
The society has also set up a trust fund which aims to assist wherever possible in the preservation and promotion of any of Kempe's work.
A newsletter is produced quarterly called "The Wheatsheaf", but one of the crowning glories the society is the book which was produced very early on in its founding called "Master of Glass. Charles Eamer Kempe 1837-1907", by Margaret Stavridi, the daughter of John William Lisle.
This remarkable book is available from:
The Kempe Society,
c/o 41 York Avenue,
is the Hon. Secretary and can also supply details of membership,
publications etc. as other booklets and papers are occasionally
|Presently hosted here, but soon destined for a new home|
Or email: firstname.lastname@example.org for
|The Membership Fees are currently:|
|Ordinary Annual Membership||£5|
|Corporate Annual Membership||£10|
|Overseas Ordinary Membership||£8|
All fees payable in Sterling Only.
The Attraction of Stained Glass
The attraction of stained Glass is not just to that of Kempe but to any of the panels makers and its history. The history being very important. One can find monuments and funerary effigies barely 300 years old which are in a terrible condition but at the same time one can find stained glass panels still in magnificent condition, which are 2,3 or even 400 years older and which survive virtually intact. These possibly more by good luck than judgement.
|Another attraction is that no matter where in the world you go you can still see examples of real British craftsmanship in the form of beautiful windows. I have seen examples that in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and particularly throughout South Australia as I found out on a trip in 1993. and no doubt will find more in August 1997. Included here are a series of windows and panels picked for a variety of reasons, historical, beauty, rarity and possibly the best reason for me and I hope for you: I like them!!||
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