Retired history teacher compiles guides to Selby Abbey's intricate stained glass windows

Local historian Malcolm Woodcock, from Riccall, has produced a book on research and photographs of stained glass windows at Selby Abbey. Pictures: Simon Hulme

Local Historian Malcolm Woodcock from Riccall, has produce a book on on research and Photographs of stained glass windows at Selby Abbey, is pictured with Canon John Weetman, the Vicar of Selby Abbey.

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A photographer with an eye for the intricacies of Selby’s finest stained glass windows has compiled two visitor guides for the town’s prestigious abbey.

Retired York history teacher Malcolm Woodcock has travelled the globe to photograph the breathtaking sights of the world’s finest churches.

But it is the detail of Selby Abbey which has brought him back home for a unique project he completed alongside his wife.

Mr Woodcock, 67, of Riccall, spent 12 months capturing the stained glass windows, researching coats of arms and compiling The Stained Glass Windows of Selby Abbey catalogues at home.

He said: “I’ve been photographing church windows for the last 30 years, so I do have a passion for it, but the whole thing rose out of a comment I made to the vicar about my interest in glass.

“The next thing I knew he was suggesting we put together a catalogue and record of the glass in Selby, because up until that time there had been very little collated.

“There were two things I wanted to get across. One was the beauty and detail in the windows because people can walk into any great church in the world and see a blaze of colour, but it’s not until we see photographs that we appreciate the detail in there.

“The second aim was to try and explain what the windows mean.”

There are 41 windows and more than 500 panels inside the abbey.

One piece commemorates fallen residents from World War One and is based on a hymn by James Montgomery, a newspaper editor in Sheffield who was jailed in 1795 for printing a poem celebrating the fall of the Bastille during the French revolution.

Mr Woodcock is a member of Selby Abbey’s congregation and spent hours upon hours of his own time researching the details found in the windows.

“When I was asked I thought it would take two or three days, and never thought it would take this long," he added.

“We were trying to identify one coat of arms for five hours over three nights, and looked at hundreds and hundreds of images.”

Canon John Weetman, vicar of Selby Abbey, added: “We have quite a lot of information around the abbey to do with its history, but not much about the windows.

"I knew I wanted something with pictures on each page and a description about what they were looking at.

"The great thing from my point of view is it's something we can give out to people to answer the questions people have."

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