Tinted love

Published: 14/10/2020

At Nash Partnership, we are lucky enough to sell some of the most beautiful homes in and around Berkhamsted and Tring, many of which are historic or listed buildings. These beautiful old homes often require more specialist maintenance than their modern counterparts, and we always find it fascinating to see the results of restoration.

When craftsmen are needed, one name we regularly hear is local resident John Proctor, an expert in stained and leaded window restoration. We met up with him recently and asked him about his love for glass…

John Proctor
For over 22 years, John Proctor has been making beautiful leaded lights and stained glass panels, as well as restoring some of the finest works in Hertfordshire.

Originally starting out from a garage at his home in Berkhamsted, he now works from a barn on the nearby farm where he grew up.

A chartered building surveyor by trade, he found himself at a crossroads in 1998. "As computers began taking over from hand-drawn plans, I needed to make a choice,” he says “master the newly-emerging CAD systems, or do something else.”

As chance would have it, John had recently surveyed an Arts & Crafts house and was somewhat taken with the stained glass and leaded light windows. As the beginnings of an idea began to take hold, he took a weekend course at West Dean College near Chichester. "It was a great atmosphere. Everyone was making different things and everyone was interested in what everyone else was doing."

Discovering that glass-cutting came to him quite naturally, he followed the weekend with an evening course nearer to home and bought some basic tools. His first creation was a door panel for his parents - which still sits in the family's farmhouse today - and then he did some jobs for friends. That's when things began to take off.

"It was definitely a good career move" he says, before laughing that "the only problem is my knees are arthritic, so some site work can be daunting!"

Victorian front doors and 1930s renovations are the mainstay of John's commissions, and it takes about a week to completely rebuild a panel. At his workshop, he carries out his craft lovingly, with painstaking attention to detail. His workshop even has its own melting-pot and mill for recycling reclaimed lead into new lead calme.

"The best bit is when you lift up a panel and see through it for the first time, because you never really know how it's all going to sit together. I recently had a client who'd had quite a bit of input into the design and she was ecstatic when it was fitted."

So is it fair to say he enjoys his work? "Oh yes. I'm very happy and can see myself carrying on till I drop!"

John Proctor can be contacted on 07932 182576, or visit his website at http://www.stainedglass.jcproctor.co.uk/