Articles on the History of Essex, Researching your Ancestors, and British History

The Glass Church in Jersey

Four angels
Four angels designed and made by René Jules Lalique

A charming church with decoration by René Lalique.

On the Channel Island of Jersey, just off the coast of France, is a unique church: St Matthew's Church. Known as the 'Glass Church', its uninspiring outside architecture hides the beauty inside, for a walk through its glass doors draws gasps of amazement from visitors when they see the interior which contains an amazing display of the art of design in glass by the world famous French artist, René Lalique.

René Jules Lalique (1860-1945) is now famous for his glass making and jewellery designs particularly from the Art Nouveau and Art Deco periods. After apprenticeship and study in France and the England, he returned to France and opened his own business in 1885 and quickly became established as designer of exceptional jewellery. He then branched out to design objects in glass, bronze, and ivory.

One area of his work included designing and manufacturing glass items for the interior design of a wide range of buildings and even ocean liners and the Orient Express train.

He particularly enjoyed working on churches, so in 1932 when he was invited by his Cannes neighbour, Lady Florence Trent, the widow of the founder of Boots the Chemists, to work on the interior of the church which was near her principal residence on Jersey, he agreed to her proposal.

He spent two years designing and producing some stunning pieces for the church such as the angels shown in the picture above, a glorious altar cross with a pillar either side, communion rail, screens, door and window panels, and a remarkable glass font.

The remaining interior fittings which complement Lalique's creations were designed by a local architect Arthur Grayson.

A visit is highly recommended should you be on the island of Jersey.

The Church is open for visitors and more information on its location can be found on its website: glasschurch.org

Items on by René Lalique.

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