MEMS welcomes Professor Rachel Koopmans

MEMS is delighted to welcome back Prof. Rachel Koopmans of York University, Toronto as Visiting Professor for the duration of the coming Autumn Term. Supported by British Academy funding, Prof. Koopmans will be examining the Saint Thomas Becket miracle windows at Canterbury Cathedral for her next book. Working closely with Dr. Emily Guerry (School of History/MEMS at Kent), Rachel will be involved in the delivery of some teaching and workshops on Medieval visual culture. Drs. Koopman and Guerry are also co-organising a series of educational events for Kent students, along the lines of the fascinating Masterclass which Dr. Koopmans led for MEMS in 2015; Reading Canterbury’s Medieval Glass:  A Primer in Stained Glass Scholarship and Text/Image Analysis.

Earlier this month, Rachel’s research with Leonie Seliger (Director of the Stained Glass Studio) and team at Canterbury Cathedral prompted national press coverage following the discovery that stained glass panels – previously thought to be the work of Victorian restorers – in fact date back to the c.1180s. One of these extraordinary panels depicts the earliest-known images of pilgrims travelling to Canterbury.

Prof. Koopmans said of the findings: “Our work was prompted by an early photograph of the window which showed these panels decades before they were thought to have been made. Careful analysis has proved that while most of the heads were replaced by a modern restorer, the majority of the glass is original and the panels are genuine medieval compositions. The date of the panels has been fixed by the distinctive aesthetic style of the glass, which is very similar to glass dated to 1180, as well as the date of the completion of the rebuilding of the chapel in which the window is found, 1182-1184.”

The School of History and the Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies at Kent are thrilled by the opportunity to learn from Prof. Koopman’s expertise and enthusiasm for the study of medieval stained glass windows at Canterbury Cathedral.