Caroline Townshend

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Caroline Townshend
A multicoloured stained glass window, depicting a castle surrounded by fields of sheep. It is captioned with poetry by William Blake.
Part of a stained glass window by Townshend at St. Chad's church in Bensham, Gateshead.
Born4 September 1878
St Pancras, London
Died10 June 1944
EducationSlade School of Fine Art, Central School of Arts and Crafts, Christopher Whall.
Known forStained Glass

Caroline Charlotte Townshend (1878–1944) was a British stained glass artist of the Arts and Crafts Movement. She trained at Slade School of Fine Art and Central School of Arts and Crafts before becoming a pupil of Christopher Whall. She designed and made many stained glass windows, particularly for churches and cathedrals and set up the stained glass firm of Townshend and Howson in 1920 with her student and apprentice, Joan Howson. They used a dual signature for their completed works.

Like her mother, she was a suffragette and member of the Fabian Society.

Early life[edit]

Caroline Charlotte Townshend was born on 4 September 1878 to Chambré (or "Cambrey") Corker Townshend and Emily Gibson, at 21 Endsleigh Street the fourth of five children[1][2][3][4] Her father had trained as an architect and was for a while an assistant to George Edmund Street.[5][nb 1] Her mother, Emily Gibson had been the first applicant to the College for Women, (now Girton College) at Cambridge and was a student there from 1869–1872. She met her husband through Isabella Townshend, a fellow student at the College for Women.[6][7][8] Emily later wrote "Chambrey Townshend had little push and no business ability to back up his remarkable artistic abilities" and the family lived abroad for some time as it was cheaper.[4] Emily later served time in Holloway Prison for suffragette activity, as did Rachel, her daughter and Caroline's sister.[4]


After her family returned from Europe Caroline Townsend was a pupil at Wycombe Abbey School. Townshend was educated at the Slade School of Fine Art. After a period as a student at the Slade she decided that she wanted to try stained glass and by 1901 asked Christopher Whall to take her on as a pupil.[5] She assisted in his studio and attended his classes at the Central School of Arts and Crafts until 1903.[4]


She set up her own studio at The Glass House in Fulham, South-West London[5] in 1903. Many stained glass artists of the Arts and Crafts movement had their studios at The Glass House, including Mary Lowndes, Karl Parsons, Margaret Agnes Rope, M. E. Aldrich Rope, Theodora Salusbury, Arild Rosenkrantz, Wilhelmina Geddes, Clare Dawson, Rachel de Montmorency, Margaret Thompson, Lilian Josephine Pocock, Hugh Arnold and Edward Liddall Armitage.[9]

It was at The Glass House in 1913 that she met Joan Howson, a student of the Liverpool School of Art, who would become her student and apprentice.[10] In 1920 they set up their company Townshend & Howson.[10] They moved to 61 Deodar Road in Putney which they had converted to house a studio and workshop, which was also shared by fellow stained glass artist M. E. Aldrich Rope.[11] Neighbours included Edward Woore and other stained glass artists.[5][10] During the earlier part of World War II, she cared for evacuee children at three hospitals in North Wales with Howson and Rope.[12]


She was member of the Fabian Society, a democratic socialist organisation, and in 1910 was a candidate of the Labour Party for the Board of Guardians in Fulham, London.[13][14][nb 2] In 1918, Townshend designed banners for the Fabian Society, executed by 19 women, and for the Conservative and Unionist Women's Franchise Association.[16]


Caroline Townshend died on 10 June 1944 in Pwllheli, North Wales, leaving just over £30,000 to Joan Howson.[1][17] Howson continued to use the name of their partnership after Townshend's death.[5]


Works that Townshend completed before forming the partnership Townshend and Howson, with Joan Howson include:

St Mary Magdalene, Chulmleigh[edit]

Townshend's very first commission.[18] was for a window in the north aisle of this church. It depicts Saints Cuthbert, Martin (shown in the act of sharing his cloak with a beggar outside Amiens) and Boniface. Described by Cherry and Pevsner as "three saints, charming scenes below, with subtle colours".[19]

St Mary, Greenhithe[edit]

This church, designed by Lewis Vulliamy dates back to 1855. Townshend completed a three-light window for the church's north aisle, an interpretation of the “Presentation in the Temple”.[18]

St Andrew, Aysgarth[edit]

Window in St Andrew Aysgarth. Photograph courtesy Dave Webster
  • Location: Aysgarth, Yorkshire
  • Year: 1905

This church has a two-light window by Townshend. In the left hand light Jesus washes the feet of his disciples, while in the other he is depicted blessing the children.[18]

St Chad, Bensham[edit]

The chapel of All Saints in this church has two twin-light windows by Townshend dating from 1907.[18][20] or 1908.[1]

St Bartholomew, Ducklington[edit]

There is a three-light window by Townshend at the east end of the church’s south aisle. It shows Christ with St Cecilia on one side and Dorcas on the other. in the south aisle of the church there is a second window by Townshend and Howson which dates to 1934. It is of three-lights and depicts St Hugh of Lincoln in the centre light.[18]

Newcastle Cathedral[edit]

  • Location: Newcastle, Northumberland
  • Year: 1907

Townshend completed the large four-light window in the north choir aisle of St Nicholas' Cathedral church,[18] described as “an outstanding window of 1907 showing Northumbrian Saints and St Nicholas” by Nikolaus Pevsner and Ian Richmond.[21]

Exchange Buildings, Newcastle upon Tyne[edit]

Townshend carried out some glazing work for this building.[18]

The "Fabian Window"[edit]

  • Year: 1910

The "Fabian Window", on loan to the London School of Economics (LSE) Shaw Library since 2006, was made by Townshend in 1910, to a design by George Bernard Shaw.[18][22] The window, shows Edward R. Pease, Sidney Webb and other members of the Fabian Society "helping to build “the new world”".[22] It is thought to have remained in Townshend's studio until after her death. In 1947 it was presented to the Webb Memorial Trust's Beatrice Webb House near Dorking, from where it was stolen in 1978. It surfaced in Phoenix, Arizona soon afterwards but then disappeared again,[22] and in the following years the only evidence of the work was the cartoon made by Townshend.[1] The window was bought back by the Webb Memorial Trust following its reappearance at Sotheby's in July 2005.[22]

In an article published on the LSE website it is described as having been cited as an example of "Shavian wit":

the figures are in Tudor dress to poke fun at Pease who evidently loved everything medieval. The Fabian Society coat of arms is shown as a wolf in sheep's clothing. The first man, crouching on the left, is H.G. Wells, cocking a snook at the others. He is followed by the actor-manager Charles Charrington, Aylmer Maude (translator of Tolstoy's War and Peace), G. Stirling Taylor (reading a book, New Worlds for Old), and the dentist F. Lawson Dodd. The women, from left to right, are Maud Pember Reeves (mother of Amber Reeves, who bore Wells a daughter in 1909), Miss Hankin, the suffragist Miss Mabel Atkinson, Mrs Boyd Dawson, and, at the end, the artist who made the window, Caroline Townshend herself.[22]

It was the Fabians, Beatrice and Sidney Webb, and George Bernard Shaw who founded the London School of Economics (LSE), where the work is now housed.[22]

St Cuthbert, Seascale[edit]

  • Location: Seascale, Cumbria
  • Year: 1910–11

Townshend completed a four-light east window depicting The Virgin and Child and "Christ in Majesty" surrounded by various Saints including James the Great, Andrew and James the Less. She also completed another window on the north side of the church.[18][23]

St Nicholas, Willoughby[edit]

This church has a three-light window by Townshend. The central light contains a Salvator Mundi (“Saviour of the World”) and those on either side the lights show St Nicholas and Mary Magdalene.[18]

St Paul's Cathedral, Rockhampton[edit]

In 1914 the Bishop of Rockhampton visited England and approached various artists with a view to commissioning stained glass for the Cathedral. He chose Townshend, who designed five windows for the Cathedral's apse. The three central windows were made and installed in 1914. They depict the Crucifixion, Christ in Majesty and Pentecost. Two other windows depicting the Nativity and the Adoration of the Lamb were installed in 1924.[18][24]

St Nectan's Church, Hartland, Devon[edit]

Townshend and Howsen painted windows for both St Nectan's church, Hartland and for St john's Chapel of Ease, Hartland. The windows were commissioned by Richard Pearse Chope and possibly John Lane. The subject matter is not religious but depicts the history of Hartland through the years. In order south east to north east: The Gytha window; The manorial window; the William window; the Alfred window & the Arthur window. Further work is three small roundels in the Mary Chapel window. Within St John's Chapel of Ease a window showing St Augustine & St Francis is in situ as a memorial to the wife of Mr Wilton, headmaster of the local school.[18][25][26]

Other work[edit]

Townshend's work was included in an exhibition organised by the William Morris Gallery in 1985 to celebrate the contribution of women to the art of stained glass. Exhibits included her 1906 design for a window depicting St Crispin, the patron saint of cobblers, this window destined for the Cripples' Cobbling School which was part of the Southwark Settlement and also the 1905 design for a window commissioned by the Newcastle antiquarian William Street, of 9 Charlotte Street in North Shields. It is not known whether these windows have survived. Townshend's mother's family were from Newcastle and this connection lead to her receiving several commissions in the North East.[18]



  1. ^ According to Townshend family genealogical records, Chambré Corker Townshend was the son of Reverend Chambré Corker Townshend and Emily Gibson was the daughter of industrialist J. Gibson. Townshend worked for George Edmund Street, but unable to secure a sufficient standard of living for his family, his wife suggested they live abroad where there was a cheaper standard of living. The family lived in Switzerland and then Florence before returning to England to life in Richmond, Yorkshire. Their son and daughter, Caroline, were enrolled in college.
  2. ^ In the same reference showing Caroline Townshend's involvement with the Fabian Society are articles written by "Mrs. Townshend", possibly Caroline Townshend's mother on subjects including "The Case against the Charity Organization Society" (July 1911) and "The Case for School Nurseries" (September 1909).[15] In Townshend family genealogical records, Caroline's mother was said to be the first woman to attend Girton College, a suffragette, member of the Fabian Society and was sent to Holloway Prison for two weeks for her suffragette activities. She was a member of the Governing Council of Hawnes School. Information was gleaned from a book about Emily Gibson Townshend: Emily Townshend 1849 – 1934. The Curwen Press, 1936.


  1. ^ a b c d Irish Arts Review 1984–1987: Exhibitions. Irish Arts Review. p. 1. Retrieved 19 August 2012.
  2. ^ Montgomery-Massingberd, Hugh. (ed.) (1976). Burke's Irish Family Records. London: Burkes Peerage Ltd. p. 1119. ASIN: B0007AISK2.
  3. ^ "London, England, Church of England Births and Baptisms, 1813-1920". Archived from the original on 8 January 2022. Retrieved 8 January 2022.
  4. ^ a b c d "Caroline Townshend". Woman and her Sphere. Retrieved 8 January 2022.
  5. ^ a b c d e Caroline Townshend. Archived 26 September 2010 at the Wayback Machine Sussex Parish Churches: Architects and Artists T-U-V. Retrieved 19 August 2012
  6. ^ Stephen, Barbara. (2010) [1933]. Girton College 1869–1932. Cambridge University Press. p. 24, 193. ISBN 978-1-108-01531-8.
  7. ^ Murphy, Ann B. and Deirdre Raftery. (eds.) (2004). Emily Davies: Collected Letters, 1861–1875. Charlottesville and London: University of Virginia Press. p. 396, 494. ISBN 0-8139-2232-1.
  8. ^ White, Dr. Sarah. (6 November 1975). "Gaining Parity by Degrees: Women at Cambridge." New Scientist p. 349.
  9. ^ Glass House, Fulham. Artist Biographies. Retrieved 19 August 2012.
  10. ^ a b c Joan Howson. University of Wales: Gwydr Lliw yng Nghymru – Stained Glass in Wales. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
  11. ^ "Life of M.E.Aldrich Rope (Tor) Two Margaret Ropes - Stained Glass Artists of the Arts and Crafts Movement". Archived from the original on 12 February 2002. Retrieved 8 January 2022.
  12. ^ ""Life of M.E.Aldrich Rope (Tor)". Two Margaret Ropes - Stained Glass Artists of the Arts and Crafts Movement". Archived from the original on 12 February 2002. Retrieved 8 January 2022.
  13. ^ Alexander, Sally. (2001) [1988]. Women's Source Library. 7 Women's Fabian Tracts. London: Routledge. p. 148. ISBN 0-415-25692-5.
  14. ^ Cole, Margaret (1961). The Story of Fabian Socialism. Stanford University Press. ISBN 978-0804700917.
  15. ^ Alexander, Sally. (2001) [1988]. Women's Source Library. 7 Women's Fabian Tracts. London: Routledge. pp. 85, 179. ISBN 0-415-25692-5.
  16. ^ Tickner, Lisa. (1988). The Spectacle of Women: Imagery of the Suffrage Campaign 1907–14. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. pp. 210, 292. ISBN 0-226-80245-0.
  17. ^ "England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995". Archived from the original on 8 January 2022. Retrieved 8 January 2022.
  18. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Women Stained Glass Artists of the Arts and Crafts Movement Catalogue." London Borough of Waltham Forest Libraries & Arts Department, 1985. William Morris Gallery Exhibition and Brangwyn Gift in 1985. ISBN 0901974226.
  19. ^ Cherry, Bridget and Nikolaus Pevsner. (1989) [1952]. The Buildings of England: Devon. (2nd edition). New Haven and London: Yale University Press. p. 265. ISBN 978-0-300-09596-8.
  20. ^ Williamson, Elizabeth. (1983) [1953]. The Buildings of England: County Durham. London and New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-09599-9
  21. ^ Richmond, Ian and Nikolaus Pevsner.The Buildings of England. Northumberland. London and New Haven: Yale University Press. p. 421.
  22. ^ a b c d e f A piece of Fabian history unveiled at LSE Newspaper. Archived 1 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine. London School of Economics Stained Glass. Retrieved 19 August 2012.
  23. ^ Hyde, Matthew. (2010). The Buildings of England. Cumbria: Cumberland, Westmorland and Furness. London and New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-12663-1.
  24. ^ Cathedral History. Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine St. Paul' s Anglican Cathedral, Rockhampton. Retrieved 19 August 2012.
  25. ^ [1] Hartland Forum website. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  26. ^ Hobbs: Question of a Seat, Hartland Digital Archive, 2005