Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Winston, Charles

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WINSTON, CHARLES (1814–1864), writer on glass-painting, born on 10 March 1814 at Lymington, Hampshire, was the eldest son of Benjamin Winston, rector of Farningham, Kent, by his wife Helen, daughter of Sir Thomas Reid, first baronet. His father, whose original name was Sandford, assumed that of Winston in accordance with a provision in the will of his maternal grandfather, Charles Winston, sometime attorney-general of Dominica. Having been educated at Farningham by his father and Weedon Butler, he became a student of the Inner Temple at the age of twenty, at first reading in the chambers of Samuel Warren [q. v.] He practised several years as a special pleader, and was called to the bar in 1845, after which he went the home circuit. He was much employed in arbitrations and drawing specifications of patents, his knowledge of machinery being much valued. He frequently acted as deputy county-court judge, particularly in Staffordshire for Serjeant Clarke.

Notwithstanding his large practice, Winston devoted much time to the study of the fine arts, more especially architecture and glass-painting. On the latter subject he became the leading English authority. Having in his youth made the acquaintance of Miller, the professional glass-painter, he applied the knowledge acquired from him in designing and assisting to construct a small coloured window in the chancel of Farningham church. He continued throughout his life to occupy himself with painting on glass in all its branches, theoretical and practical. The numerous tracings which he made of interesting and curious ancient glass were admitted by experts to have caught with great fidelity both the design and the colouring of the originals, and he was consulted in reference to the windows which were made for Glasgow Cathedral and St. Paul's. Towards the end of his life he gave himself up chiefly to the scientific side of his subject. He made numerous and elaborate chemical experiments with the assistance of his friend Charles Harwood Clarke, which led to a great improvement in the manufacture of coloured glass. He claimed also to have discovered the secret of the mediæval processes. At the same time he was strongly opposed to a servile imitation of mediæval models. A somewhat severe criticism of his opinions is contained in an article in the ‘Edinburgh Review’ for January 1867.

Winston was one of the earliest members of the Archæological Institute. His first published essay, an article on painted glass, appeared in volume i. of its journal. The nucleus of his first considerable work was a small manuscript circulated privately in 1838, in which he attempted to treat the subject of glass-painting by arranging it on the method of Thomas Rickman's ‘Gothic Architecture.’ In 1847, when further materials had been collected, he was persuaded by Parker to publish his results under the title of ‘An Inquiry into the Differences of Style observable in Ancient Glass Paintings especially in England, with Hints on Glass Painting.’ The second part of the work consists of plates executed by Philip Delamotte from Winston's own drawings. The work was reissued in 1867 with additional plates.

Winston's next publication was ‘An Introduction to the Study of Painted Glass,’ 1849, 8vo. His last work, issued posthumously in 1865, was ‘Memoirs illustrative of the Art of Glass-Painting.’ It is preceded by a biographical memoir with portrait, to which Winston's correspondence with Charles Heath Wilson [q. v.] between 1856 and 1864 is appended.

Winston died suddenly at his chambers in Harcourt Buildings, in the Temple, on 3 Oct. 1864. He had married, in the preceding May, Maria, youngest daughter of Philip Raoul Lempriere of Rozel Manor, Jersey. His collection of drawings was presented by his widow to the British Museum, after having been exhibited at the Arundel Society's rooms in 1865.

[Winston's Works; Gent. Mag. 1864, ii. 658–660; Catalogue of Drawings from Ancient Glass Paintings by Charles Winston, with brief Memoir by J. B. Waring, 1865.]

G. Le G. N.