The 16th Century windows are one of the cathedralís greatest treasures
Work on restoring Lichfield Cathedral's famous Herkenrode stained glass windows has finally got under way.
The seven glass windows were taken down from the cathedral's Lady Chapel, which has been closed during the work, after showing signs of serious deterioration.
It is expected to take five years and £1m to bring the 500-year-old glass back to its former glory. The cathedral has set up the East End Appeal to help raise the money.
The chapel is now being reopened.
The windows were made between 1532 and 1539 for Herkenrode Abbey in Flanders, now part of modern Belgium.
The abbey was suppressed by Napoleon, and the glass, which depicts the life of Jesus, was bought to England by Sir Brooke Boothby in 1802.
He sold it on to the cathedral for £200; and it was placed in the windows of the Lady Chapel in 1803 to replace stained glass destroyed 150 years earlier during the English Civil War.
But more than 200 years worth of condensation, grime and pollution, and problems with the crumbling sandstone supporting it, meant that restorative action could no longer be delayed.
Piece by piece
In 2009, the chapel was shrouded by scaffolding as workers began to carefully take the windows down bit by bit and remove them. It took almost 18 months. They will now be cleaned, piece by piece, by a team of stained glass experts.
The chapel's windows are currently replaced with clear glass. When the Herkenrode windows are re-installed (five years time is the best estimate), the clear glass will remain in place, protecting the priceless stained glass from any damage from the elements.
The Lady Chapel at the cathedral will re-open to the general public from 6 December 2010.