A new play, covering one hour in 1803, reveals a story of how the famous Herkenrode Glass came to Lichfield Cathedral.
Boothby’s Gift is an emotional account of how Brooke Boothby, a Baronet from Ashbourne in Derbyshire, came to save the glass from the Abbey in Herkenrode, Belgium, which had been sold to developers.
Four characters explore the themes of loss, memory, aspiration and consolation, against the background of Napoleonic conquest and the age of industry.
The play, written by Lichfield actor and writer David Titley, is a story full of high emotion, sorrow and tenderness.
Sir Brooke Boothby saw the purchase of the glass, and its installation in Lichfield Cathedral, as a way of memorialising his daughter, Penelope, who died in 1791 aged just five years.
There is another link between Boothby and the Cathedral. It is believed that Thomas Banks’ memorial to Penelope in St Oswald’s Church in Asbourne, inspired Francis Chantry’s masterpiece of The Sleeping Children in Lichfield.
Boothby’s Gift features four actors from Lichfield – Ian Henderson as Boothby, Adrienne Swallow as Mother Josephine, the last Abbess of Herkenrode, Nigel Lowe as Deputy Commisioner Jean-Baptiste Arnoul and Ian Parkes as property developer Pierre Libotton.
The Herkenrode glass was brought to Lichfield in 1803, and replaced windows damaged during the Civil War. The seven Renaissance windows represent the greatest collection of unrestored 16th Century Flemish glass anywhere in the world.
The glass, in the Lady Chapel in the Cathedral, was recently removed and taken to specialist craftsmen in York for cleaning and maintenance before being reinstalled in 2015. An interactive display in the Cathedral tells the story of the glass.
The play is a Lichfield Mysteries Community Arts production, directed by David Titley and produced by Jill Taylor.
It will run on June 9 and 10 at Wade Street Church in Lichfield. Tickets are £8 and are available from the Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum. For more details visit www.lichfieldmysteries.co.uk.