Stained Glass Window in Pettaugh Suffolk by Caroline Townshend and Joan Howson
Joan Howson (1885–1964) was a British stained glass artist of the Arts and Crafts movement. She trained at the Liverpool School of Art before becoming a student and apprentice to Caroline Townshend. They later developed a lifelong partnership creating stained glass works under the name of their company, Townshend and Howson.
Howson was born 9 May 1885 in Flintshire to Ethel and George John Howson, MA. George Howson attended Trinity College at Cambridge and was an Archdeacon. Ethel's father was the Archdeacon Dealtry and Vicar of Maidstone. Joan Howson had four older brothers, one of who died as a baby.
In 1920 they began their partnership, Townshend & Howson under which they obtained commissions. They signed their works joining both of their initials. Then they moved to Putney where they had converted a house to serve as a studio and workshop, and were neighbours to Edward Woore and other stained glass artists.
Howson's partner, Caroline Townshend died in 1944. Howson returned to Putney and resumed her work there, often restoring medieval glass. She maintained both her late partner's initials and name in the company business. Two of her key commissions were for Oxford University with the Department of Medieval Art and a commission for the Church of St Mary Magdalane in Newark-on-Trent restoring stained glass from the 14th century.
The Archdeacon of Suffolk donated a box of medieval glass fragments to the Victoria and Albert Museum after being stored away for centuries. Howson, being a resident of Putney, was given the fragments to reassemble in 1939. She carried out the work without charge. During World War II the box of glass was hidden in a Portmadoc, North Wales mine. After the war ended, she received the retrieved fragments but it would be several years before she worked on the project. One key restoration commission was for Westminster Abbey to restore windows damaged during the war. Howson completed the work on the 15th century glass for the Combs church in 1952. The resulting windows are the South-East windows of the South Aisle of the Combs church.
- Farrer, Archdeacon William. (1894). The descendants of John Backhouse, yeoman, of Moss Side. Volume 1 London: Chiswick Press. (private printing). p. 64.
- Joan Howson. University of Wales: Gwydr Lliw yng Nghymru – Stained Glass in Wales. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
- Joan Howson. Sussex Parish Churches: Architects and Artists H. Retrieved 19 August 2012
- Caroline Townshend. Sussex Parish Churches: Architects and Artists T-U-V. Retrieved 19 August 2012
- History – Stained Glass St Mary's Church Combs. Retrieved 20 August 2012.
- Putron, M. E. de. (1976–77). Journal of the British Society of Master Glass-Painters. 16:1. pp. 46–54. Article about stained glass and Joan Howson.
- Eavis, Anna. Panel of the Month – Including Howson's work. Vidimus: Online Medieval Glass Magazine, Issue 16.
- St Mary's Church Combs – History – Stained Glass – short article about Howson's work restoring medieval glass
- Westminster Abbey – reparations of stained glass by Howson following WWII