In 1848 a group of young artists, including John Everett Millais, William Holman Hunt and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, formed the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood as a protest against the formal values and canons established by the Royal Academy of Art that were based on Renaissance philosophy and the idealising style of Raphael. The Brothers instead looked to earlier Italian painters such as Fra Angelico, and prized fidelity to nature. The Pre-Raphaelites drew inspiration from literature and their art depicted moral, religious, historical and anecdotal subjects.

Though the original Brotherhood had all but disbanded by 1853, the term ‘Pre-Raphaelite’ came to be associated with a wider art movement interested in medievalism and traditional handicraft as a reaction against the industrialisation and mechanisation of the modern period (this would, in turn, grow into the 'Arts and Crafts' movement). Two followers of Rossetti, William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones, were leading proponents of this tendency. In 1861, Rossetti, Morris and Burne-Jones joined with other artists and architects including Ford Madox Brown and Philip Webb to found Morris, Marshall, Faulkner and Co., which aimed to supply hand-crafted furnishings for the home: they also provided some of the most remarkable adornments to our nation’s churches. Through Morris’s company the ideals of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood influenced many architects and designers, arousing interest in medieval designs, traditional crafts, and the direct imitation of nature.

Morris, Marshall, Faulkner and Co., (and, from 1875, its successor Morris & Co.), produced art in many forms including murals, furniture, tapestry, jewellery and wall-paper, but its most notable contribution to church decoration can perhaps be seen in its stained glass. Stained glass introduced colour into buildings, as advocated by the influential Victorian art critic John Ruskin, and was intended to educate as well as decorate. The involvement of artists such as John Richard Clayton and Morris and Burne-Jones in large stained glass firms led to the commissioning and execution of many fine windows around the country, and reinvigorated interest in the medium: other notable companies of the period included Clayton and Bell; Lavers and Barraud; Burlison and Grylls; Watts and Co.; and Heaton, Butler and Bayne.

Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford

Christ Church College in Oxford is unique in having the only college chapel that is also a cathedral. It is said to have been founded as a convent by St Frideswide in the 8th century, but the oldest parts of the present church date from the 12th century, when it was an Augustinian priory and place of pilgrimage. In 1525 Thomas Wolsey suppressed the priory and began work creating a college on the site, named Cardinal's College in his own honour, and when Wolsey from grace Henry VIII refounded the college as Christ Church.

Christ Church Cathedral boasts one of the earliest windows by Edward Burne-Jones: the east window in the 'Latin Chapel' was designed by Burne-Jones in 1859, two years before the foundation of Morris, Marshall, Faulkner and Co., for the firm of James Powell and Co. (also known as Whitefriars Glass). Burne-Jones was recommended by Benjamin Woodward, architect of the Oxford Museum of Natural History, who was a friend of John Ruskin and the Pre-Raphaelites. The window depicts St Frideswide and is different in style to his later windows, evoking the spirit of medieval glass with crammed scenes bustling with colour (pictured: photograph by Akoliasnikoff, used under Creative Commons licence). Note the incongruous flushing loo behind the red curtain to the right!

The later windows by Burne-Jones in the Cathedral, designed for Morris and Co., are more familiarly Pre-Raphaelite in character. They were installed as part of the restoration of the cathedral by Sir George Gilbert Scott in the 1870s and include the Vyner Memorial Window in the Lady Chapel (unusually bearing Burne-Jones's initials) and the St Cecilia window in the north aisle. There are also other good Victorian windows in the Cathedal by William Wailes, John Hardman, and Clayton & Bell, whose large St Michael window dominates the north transept.

Christ Church College has a connection to Alice in Wonderland : Lewis Carroll taught at Christ Church, and Henry Liddell, father of the 'real' Alice, was Dean of the college. The figure of St Catherine in Burne-Jones's window in the Cathedral's Chapel of Remembrance bears the likeness of Alice Liddell's younger sister Edith, and stained glass windows in the College Hall depict characters from the Alice books. Strangely, St Michael's church at Lyndhurst, below, also has an Alice connection...

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St Michael and All Angels, Lyndhurst, Hampshire

St Michael's church was built between 1858-68 by William White, a pupil of George Gilbert Scott (and nephew of the writer and naturalist Gilbert White of Selborne). Architecturally the church is White's masterpiece, but it is most famous for its decorations: works of art commissioned from White's associates in the Pre-Raphaelite movement.

The church is most noted for its glass by Morris, Marshall, Faulkner and Co. Pevsner called it "exquisite throughout, among the best of the firm and infinitely superior to anything done by anyone else at that time." The east window, by Burne-Jones, depicts the New Jerusalem of the Book of Revelation, whilst the north aisle contains glass by Morris himself, portraying biblical heroines against lush backgrounds of twining flowers.

There is not only glass to look out for, however: a fresco above the altar of the Wise and Foolish Virgins is by Frederic, Lord Leighton, whilst William White's own mastery of detail is shown everywhere in the daring polychromy of the brickwork and in the carved figures of angels, saints and muscians.

In the churchyard are buried the ashes of Mrs Reginald Hargreaves, née Alice Liddell, who as a ten-year-old girl was the inspiration for Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. She married a cricketer and had three sons, two of whom died in the First World War. She died, aged 82, in 1934.

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St Michael and All Angels, Brighton, East Sussex

Architecturally, the church of St Michael and All Angels in Brighton is really two churches. The first, smaller church was designed by George Frederick Bodley in 1858 and built from 1861-62. Bodley was one of the first major patrons of Morris, Marshall, Faulkner and Co. (see also Scarborough, St Martin and Selsley, All Saints) and Morris and the firm provided a magnificent decorative display for St Michael's church including a painted waggon ceiling by William Morris and Philip Webb and stained glass by Morris, Webb, Edward Burne-Jones, Ford Madox Brown and Peter Paul Marshall.

The second church, to which Bodley's became merely the south aisle, was designed by William Burges in 1865, though it was not built until 1893. Burges's church is noted for its fine woodcarving, particularly the fantastical animal scenes on the misericords which include a frog barber shaving a client and a grasshopper jockey riding a snail.

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St Martin, Scarborough, North Yorkshire

St Martin's church in Scarborough, like St Michael's in Brighton and All Saints in Selsley, was the fruit of a collaboration between the architect George Frederick Bodley and the firm of Morris, Marshall, Faulkner and Co. The decoration of this church, which was one of the first major commissions for Morris's firm, transformed Bodley's lofty interior into a rich and glorious gallery of Pre-Raphaelite art.

The outstanding feature is the pulpit of 1862 (pictured: photograph by Graham Burnett) which consists of ten painted panels designed by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Morris and Ford Madox Brown. William Morris and Philip Webb painted the ceilings of the chancel and north chapel, and the wall behind the altar features blind tracery, by Bodley, containing the "Adoration of the Magi" by Edward Burne-Jones. Morris's firm also contributed a remarkable suite of stained glass windows, including the four rose windows in the chancel by Rossetti and Morris, the west windows by Brown and Burne-Jones, and all the aisle windows and clerestory glass.

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All Saints, Selsley, Gloucestershire

The stained glass at All Saints Selsley was the first major ecclesiastical commission for the firm of Morris, Marshall, Faulkner and Co. As at St Michael and All Angels in Brighton, and St Martin's church in Scarborough, the architect was G. F. Bodley, whose early commissions were so crucial to the success of William Morris's firm.

Morris, Marshall, Faulkner and Co. provided a set of fifteen windows for All Saints' church. In addition to Morris, the artists involved were Edward Burne-Jones, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Ford Madox Brown and Philip Webb. Webb is thought to have designed the overall template for the windows - a central band of stained glass with clear glass above and below - and all of the animals and birds. Similarly, Morris is supposed to have taken charge of the foliage and background, and Burne-Jones, Rossetti and Madox Brown the figurative composition. Following medieval tradition, the Crucifixion is placed above the altar, whilst Christ in Majesty is placed at the west end - here, in the centre of a remarkable rose window, surrounded by a series of surprisingly avant-garde, semi-abstract roundels depicting the stages of the Creation (pictured: photograph by Philip Pankhurst).

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All Saints, Middleton Cheney, Northamptonshire

The village of Middleton Cheney is very fortunate to have had a personal friend of Edward Burne-Jones as its vicar in the 1860s. The result of that association was an astonishingly beautiful set of stained glass windows by Morris, Marshall, Faulkner and Co. that continues to make All Saints' church, in the words of Nikolaus Pevsner, "a place of unforgettable enjoyment."

The most remarkable of the windows is the West, by Burne-Jones, which depicts Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, flames swirling around them, in the Fiery Furnace. The design, which seems almost to anticipate Art Nouveau, was exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery and is said to have inspired the famous jibe about 'greenery-yallery' modern art in Gilbert and Sullivan's satire of the Aesthetic Movement, Patience (pictured: photograph by Walwyn, used under Creative Commons licence).

Glass elsewhere in the church features designs by Philip Webb, Ford-Madox Brown, Simeon Solomon and William Morris, who also painted the nave ceiling.

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St Mary, Speldhurst, Kent

The glory of Speldhurst church is its glass, which has been described as showing Morris & Co. in its prime. Ten of the windows were designed by Edward Burne-Jones, several in collaboration with William Morris. Most date from the 1870s, when the church was rebuilt, as the third on its site, by John Oldrid Scott (son of Sir George Gilbert Scott).

The most celebrated of the windows is the west window in the north aisle, known as the Window of Praise, which features angels playing musical instruments (pictured: photograph by David Nicholls, used under Creative Commons licence).

The church also features glass by Clayton & Bell and Charles Eamer Kempe.

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St Michael and All Angels, Waterford, Hertfordshire

Waterford church was designed by the architect Henry Woodyer between 1871 and 1872, and, like many of Woodyer's churches, it was decorated with breathtaking richness. Woodyer himself designed an elaborately carved font-cover pierced by gothic window-openings and bristling with crocketted pinnacles, whilst the floor of the church is paved with colourful Minton tiles and the walls of the chancel are covered in vibrant blue and green mosaics by Powell & Sons (pictured: photograph by John Salmon, used under Creative Commons licence). The church's finest feature, however, is the stained glass by Morris & Co. The windows include designs by Edward Burne-Jones, William Morris, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Ford Madox Brown and Philip Webb; as Pevsner puts it, the church offers "an excellent display for studying the different qualities of the individual artists who worked for [Morris's] firm." St Michael's also boasts a fine window from 1929 by Carl Parsons, depicting St Cecilia.

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St Martin, Brampton, Cumberland

St Martin's at Brampton (1877-78) is the only church to have been designed by Philip Webb. Webb is famous for designing the Red House in Bexleyheath for his friend and colleague William Morris and is sometimes called the Father of Arts & Crafts architecture. He was chosen to design a new church for Brampton by George Howard, then heir to the Earl of Carlisle, for whom Webb had already designed a house in London. Webb insisted on having complete autonomy over the design and decoration of the church, and commissioned Moris & Co. to make the stained glass. Twelve of the church's fourteen windows are by Edward Burne-Jones, including the overwhelming, dazzlingly colourful east window (pictured: photograph by Mike Quinn, used under Creative Commons licence). In his guide to England's Thousand Best Churches, Simon Jenkins calls the Brampton glass "one of the most explosive displays of Pre-Raphaelite colour in the country." The church also boasts altar carpets designed by Morris.

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Cathedral Church of St Philip, Birmingham

St Philip's church in Birmingham - it did not become the city's cathedral until 1905 - was designed by Thomas Archer in the English Baroque style in 1709. (It was consecrated in 1715, making 2015 its 300th birthday.) In 1883-84, the building's original small apse at the east end was replaced with a full chancel, for which Edward Burne-Jones - a son of the city who was by then at the height of his powers - agreed to design three stained glass windows. Burne-Jones's dazzling designs depict the Nativity and Annunication to the Shepherds, the Crucifixion, and the Ascension. The west window depicting the Last Judgment, also by Burne-Jones, was added in 1897 (pictured: photograph by Steve Day, used under Creative Commons licence).

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