Joan Howson

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Joan Howson
Pettaugh window.jpg
Stained Glass Window in Pettaugh Suffolk by Caroline Townshend and Joan Howson
Nationality English
Known for Stained Glass

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.

Personal life[edit]

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.[1][2][3][3]

She was involved in the woman's suffragette movement and socialism.[3]


Howson trained at the Liverpool School of Art from 1909 to 1912. She also studied music in Paris.[3]


After completing her training at Liverpool School of Art, Howson met Caroline Townshend at The Glass House studios in London. Howson became a student and apprentice to Townshend in 1912.[2][4]

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.[2][3][4]

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.[2][3][4]

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. She worked on this with Mary Eily de Putron. 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.[5]


King William, Caroline Townshend and Joan Howson window at St Nectan's Church.
Stained Glass Window in St Nectan's Church. Stoke, Hartland. Devon.
The Church of St Andrew, Bemerton, is known as George Herbert's Church. Caroline Townshend and Joan Howson were responsible for the window's design and execution.


  1. ^ Farrer, Archdeacon William. (1894). The descendants of John Backhouse, yeoman, of Moss Side. Volume 1 London: Chiswick Press. (private printing). p. 64.
  2. ^ a b c d Joan Howson. University of Wales: Gwydr Lliw yng Nghymru – Stained Glass in Wales. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Joan Howson. Archived 2 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine. Sussex Parish Churches: Architects and Artists H. Retrieved 19 August 2012
  4. ^ a b c Caroline Townshend. Archived 26 September 2010 at the Wayback Machine. Sussex Parish Churches: Architects and Artists T-U-V. Retrieved 19 August 2012
  5. ^ History – Stained Glass St Mary's Church Combs. Retrieved 20 August 2012.

Further reading[edit]