Iconic stain glassed window for the World War 1 Trail

Intricate etchings along with delicate, passionate and time consuming work has gone into creating an imaginative stain-glassed lead lined piece of artwork for the World War 1 Trail in Bury St Edmunds.

It features battle scenes of the conflict right through to the up-to-date scene of the area covered with trees and green fields.

Jon Messum, who operates his stained glass and lead lights business from his workshop in Assington Road, Bures, is the creator of the latest piece for the trail which is being organised by the My WiSH Charity and Our Bury St Edmunds, the business improvement district (BID) in the town.

It is aiming to raise £500,000 for the Every Heart Matters appeal to help create a fully integrated cardiac centre at the West Suffolk Hospital and the window is to hang in Moyse’s Hall Museum, in Bury.

Jon, who specialises in creating windows for listed and decorative buildings all over the country, said the inspiration for the work for the trail came from research he carried out into the 1914-18 War.

“I had it in my mind what I wanted to do even though I have never been to the battlefield but I took inspiration from the images that I uncovered,” he said.

The 3ft 6in wide by 1ft 4in high window features a host of items associated with the fighting including a shell blast, an explosion, barbed wire, soldiers, a casualty of the battle, a gun carriage, a shattered wheel and transforms into trees, green fields, birds flying along with poppies dotted in each corner.

Etched round the perimeter is: “1918 One hundred years on 2018 … We Will Remember Them.”

The intricate and delicate piece required hours of painstaking work cutting out the glass and lining up the lead along with hand painting the images on each piece of glass and cementing it all together.

But like every piece of work he has carried out during his 32 years in the lead light and stained glass trade it was a labour of love.

“As soon as it came into my mind about the work I just wanted to show the horrors of war and what it’s achieved to where we are now and I have depicted it how the battlefields may look like now,” he said.

And his links with the First World War go back to his grandfather George Messum who was captured by the Germans and imprisoned in Holland before being repatriated where he volunteered to become a member of the expeditionary force to bring the Tzar of Russia back to Britain.

He lived in Hackney, East London, but Jon said his relative spoke little of his time in the war.

“It’s a love of doing this kind of work because it’s historical and I’ve gradually got to the stage with listed buildings that I like to do it how I think it would have been done then by the original craftsman,” said Jon who has been featured on BBC 2’s Escape To The Country.

“I sometimes relead pieces and you are taking apart lead that could be three to four hundred years old and the glass is the same and some of it is so thin and fragile and I do the job as if it’s my own how I would like the job done. I take an interest in the job and make sure it’s right.”

The trail features 18 pieces, commissioned by local artists and sculptors, dotted in prime town centre sites and will be on show from tomorrow (July 21), through to Armistice Day, on November 11.  At the culmination of the trail an auction will take place to sell off all of the pieces to go to the My WiSH Charity’s Every Heart Matters appeal.

The West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust is investing £5.2m in developing a state of the art cardiac suite that will provide quicker access to more treatments, but the £500,000 My WiSH Charity is hoping to raise will lead to the whole unit, which is currently fragmented on different floors, being brought together in one purpose-built centre.

Treatt, the leading beverage ingredient solutions manufacturer based in Bury St Edmunds, will be the main sponsor for the trail, and Daemmon Reeve, group CEO, said: “It’s fantastic to be able to support this ambitious and exciting project which remembers the bravery of those who fought in World War One and is also helping to raise the £500,000 needed to fund the brand new cardiac centre at the hospital.”

If you want to support the Every Heart Matters appeal go to the websitewww.mywishcharity.co.uk and if you would like to donate to the appeal you can do so by going to: Justgiving.com/ehma or text EHMA17 £10 to 70070.

Pictured above is Jon Messum with his stained glass window and the original drawing of the work.

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