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Henry Holiday windows

Our four Henry Holiday stained glass windows, lost for almost 50 years, were returned in 2017 to their rightful home at Chartered Accountants’ Hall where they now hold pride of place in the entrance to the Great Hall.

On this page we explain the history of the windows and how they came to be reinstated at Chartered Accountants' Hall.

History of the windows

This beautiful set of four stained glass windows were designed and created by renowned stained glass artist Henry Holiday and installed in 1898 as an original commission for Chartered Accountants’ Hall.

They were removed in 1970 to accommodate the addition of the Whitfield Tower and the Great Hall. Thanks to the ICAEW Foundation, whose remit encompasses preservation of heritage assets, they were reacquired in 2017.

Each of Holiday's windows has a theme commemorating different aspects of the accountancy profession: law, enterprise, commerce, and finance. There are nine separate female figures depicted in the windows - perhaps reinforcing Holiday’s support for a number of the causes of the day, including the Suffragettes.

His original paper designs, along with a further alternative design for the Enterprise window, are in the Word and Image Department of the Victoria & Albert Museum. 

Reacquisition - bringing the windows home

Henry Holiday - Britannia establishing organization, supported by law
'Britannia establishing organization, supported by law' - Stained glass window by Henry Holiday. 

It took a considerable ICAEW team effort to both reacquire and reinstate the heritage windows, which mark a significant point in the history of Chartered Accountants’ Hall.

ICAEW staff collaborated to research the original locations of the windows in the building and to uncover the mystery of where they had been for the last fifty years.

After being removed in 1970 for building work at Chartered Accountants' Hall, the windows were sold on. They spent the best part of the next five decades in a barn owned by Peter Grant, manager of rock group Led Zeppelin, who was a collector of objects of 20th century design. Following his death the windows were rediscovered by his family and put up for auction as a set.

Celebratory reception

Henry Holiday's windows were carefully reinstated in 2017 as part of the refurbishment of ICAEW's Great Hall.

The windows were unveiled in October 2017, with the occasion marked with a reception during which guests enjoyed a string quartet playing music from the 1800s and a stained glass window cake.  Andrew Pianca, chair of Chartered Accountants’ Trustees, gave a speech describing the journey the windows took after they left CAH in 1970 and how they were found and reacquired.

The guests then heard from Peter Cormack, a stained glass expert and scholar of the work of Henry Holiday. He explained Holiday's 'challenge’ to come up with four designs based on the subject of accountancy.

Although Holiday struggled at first, he had a breakthrough when he began to understand the pivotal role and multidisciplinary nature of the profession. This led to the four final themes chosen: law, enterprise, commerce and finance. 

Henry Holiday reception stained glass cake
The stained glass cake enjoyed by guests at the reception

Further reading

Henry Holiday - the story
A detailed pamphlet telling the story of Henry Holiday's career as an artist and describing the iconography and the original location of the four windows. It also explains Holiday's inspiration for the images he chose and the process used for designing and producing the windows.

Please note: although the pamphlet refers to the windows being completed and installed in 1895, research by ICAEW staff has confirmed that the windows were commissioned to celebrate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee (1897) and installed during 1898.

Image gallery

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Henry Holiday - the story

Pamphlet telling the story of Henry Holiday's career as an artist and his four accountancy themed windows at Chartered Accountants' Hall.

Download Henry Holiday - the story