- 1613-1962 (Creation)
Level of description
Extent and medium
0.83 cubic metres
15 boxes, 10 rolls, and oversized loose material
Name of creator
J. W. Knowles and Sons were a firm of glass painters, restorers, and church decorators based in Stonegate, York.
The business was founded by John Ward Knowles (1838-1931) around 1861. A well-known glass painter and restorer, Knowles' work spanned the period 1863 to 1930. His major work was St Lawrence Church in York, but he is also remembered for his restoration of the St William and the St Cuthbert windows in York Minster.
His son John Alder Knowles (1881-1961) continued the family business and spent time studying new glass manufacturing methods in the USA prior to the First World War. He also had an interest in the history of stained glass, carrying out many original studies into famous works of stained glass and the lives of individual glass painters, such as William Peckitt.
In 1936 J. A. Knowles published ‘The York School of Glass Painting,’ containing his own sketches and photographs as illustrations. His work was also published in the Journal of the British Society of Master Glass Painters, which he also edited.
J. W. Knowles & Sons closed in 1953. The house and workshops on Stonegate remained in the possession of the Knowles family until 1999 when they were sold.
Immediate source of acquisition or transfer
Content and structure area
Scope and content
Business papers, comprising deeds relating to properties in York, 1613-1901, orders book, 1927-1954, letter books, 1924-1954, wage book, 1934-1953, address book, n.d., correspondence with the British Society of Master Glass Painters and the War Damage Commission, 1948-1952, J. W. Knowles designs catalogue, n.d., J. W. Knowles pattern drawings for stained glass, n.d., sketches and designs for glass windows, including North Newington Hall, Meanwood Church, Leeds, and St John’s Church, Whitby, c.1924-c.1945, correspondence concerning projects, 1952-1962, and photographs of work carried out by J. W. Knowles & Sons, 1897-1906.
Personal papers of John Alder Knowles, including correspondence, 1918-1962, press cuttings concerning his life and work, 1910-c.1948, papers relating to his publications, 1921, 1936, honours received by him, 1938, 1957, obituaries, 1961-1962; historical research papers of John Alder Knowles, including notes and drafts for articles relating to stained glass in York and elsewhere, n.d., notes and correspondence on the history of stained glass, including chronological list of English glass paintings of known date, 1658-1851, detailed case studies of windows in York Minster, n.d., notes on areas of York, n.d; published articles by Knowles, 1920-1959; published material by other authors, c.1926-c.1975; designs by other artists, including Archibald Michael Fletcher, Harry Hanby, and Hugh B. Powell, n.d; photographs of stained glass at Liverpool Cathedral, Musee de Cluny, Oxford New College Chapel, Cartmel Fell Church, Lancashire, and churches in York, n.d; material relating to William Peckitt, including some original papers of Peckitt and his family, 1764-1816, photographs of work by Peckitt, n.d., historical notes and article, ‘William Peckitt Glass Painter,’ 1953-1954, by Knowles.
Notes and correspondence relating to the Price family of glass painters, 1938-1952.
System of arrangement
Conditions of access and use area
Conditions governing access
Conditions governing reproduction
Language of material