Henry Hughes (1822-1883) was a pupil of James Henry Nixon (1802-1857), who had worked with the Yorkshireman Thomas Ward (1808-70) on the famous medieval stained glass at St Neots in Cornwall. The Ward and Nixon partnership, established at 67 Frith Street, Soho, had been in a good position to fulfil the demand for stained glass which took off in the early Victorian period: they did some work for Pugin as well. Jim Cheshire writes that their "soft" painting style "meant that they never found favour with those who looked for severe medieval drawing but their skilful painting did have its admirers, especially among those looking for art in stained glass," and that as a result their windows "were described quite regularly in the Ecclesiologist and the Builder in the 1840s" (47).

When Nixon retired, Hughes went into partnership with Ward in the early 1850s, they had considerable success: it must have helped that Ward's brother was Dean of Lincoln Cathedral from 1845 to 1860. The firm's windows there included the east window, in 1855. Cheshire tells us that it cost £2,000 even then. Still more important, suggests Cheshire, was their support from Charles Winston, who, for example, said in correspondence in 1856, "Ward stands supreme as a master of ornamental detail, and he has an assistant who draws well, but not quite in the way you would like." This has a caveat, obviously, but considering that the influential Winston dismissed others besides Ward and George Hedgeland (with whom Nixon had once worked) as "mostly mere tradesmen, at the best" (18), it is praise indeed. At any rate, the firm had considerable success: "in the nineteenth century as a whole they were the most successful studio in Norfolk, Suffolk and Flintshire" (Cheshire 47). Elsewhere too the name pops up. For example, Ward and Hughes was responsible for the lovely east window of St Nicholas, Godstone, Surrey in about 1865 (Nairn, Pevsner and Cherry 260). They received commissions from abroad as well. As the firm grew, however, with over a hundred employees working for it, the quality of its windows is said to have deteriorated (see "Ward and Hughes").

Like other firms, this one went by different names over the years. In the Sussex Parish Churches website the following are listed as well as Ward and Hughes: T. Ward; Ward and Nixon; and Curtis, Ward and Hughes — the last was because a relation called Thomas Figgis Curtis (1845-1924) took it over after Hughes's death in 1883 sometimes signing his name on the glass. — Jacqueline Banerjee.



"Architects and Artists WXYZ." Sussex Parish Churches. Web. 17 November 2017.

Cheshire, Jim. Glass and the Victorian Gothic Revival. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2004.

Nairn, Ian, Nikolaus Pevsner, rev. Bridget Cherry. The Buildings of England: Surrey. 2nd ed. London: Penguin, 1971.

"Ward and Hughes: Stained Glass Manufacturers." St Martin's Church, Bowness-on-Windernere (an excellent source of information on the firm, including some family history, derived from the Wood Green Parish website, where it is no longer available). Web. 6 December 2020.

Winston, Charles. Memoirs illustrative of the Art of Glass-Painting. London: John Murray, 1865. Internet Archive. Contributed by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Library. Web. 17 November 2017.

Last modified 6 December 2020