Obituary | 15-09-2021

Obituary: Caroline Benyon FMGP (1948-2021)

The British Society of Master Glass Painters’ (BSMGP) long-standing Chairman, Caroline Benyon, died suddenly on 6 August 2021. Here BSMGP Vice-President Peter Cormack remembers her life and many achievements in the field of stained glass.

Caroline Margaret Benyon was born on 14 January 1948, the daughter of the artist Carl Edwards FMGP (1914-1985), who at the time was head designer of the Whitefriars stained glass firm.

Caroline attended the Convent of Marie Auxiliatrice in East Road Finchley, while also carrying out odd jobs in her father’s studio, established close to St Paul’s Cathedral in 1952.

In 1966 she enrolled at Hornsey College of Art to study silversmithing and design. She wanted to add an understanding of reflected light in three dimensions to her knowledge of transmitted light on glass.

Caroline left college in 1969, working for her father in the week and as a jeweller and silversmith in her free time.

In 1972 Carl Edwards relocated his studio to the Glass House in Fulham, which had been the studio of many women suffragist artists with whom Caroline strongly identified. While continuing to work for her father Caroline also cut glass for Moira Forsyth, in the studio that she once shared with Wilhelmina Geddes.

She married Tony Benyon in 1973, having met him at Hornsey College in 1966.

Over the next 15 years she developed her skills as a glazier, glass painter and designer. She made domestic stained glass for clients including the actor Michael Caine and the novelist Richard Adams.

Her father’s Great West Window, in Liverpool Anglican Cathedral – which was mostly painted by Caroline – was dedicated in 1979. At that time the American stained glass artist Rowan LeCompte commissioned Carl to make one of his designs for Washington Cathedral. Carl gave the job to Caroline and LeCompte presented her with a postcard-sized copy of his design and a tiny image of his work saying, ‘that’s how I paint, have fun’.

Carl Edwards died in 1985 and Caroline and Tony began working together full-time, restoring 19th century stained glass, as well as designing and making new windows. In 1992 they established their own purpose-built studio in Hampton-on-Thames.

Caroline’s first significant ecclesiastical commission was for the West Window of St Andrew’s Church, Romford, in 1993.

Her many commissions include the large West window for Edenbridge, Kent, and windows for St Albans Cathedral and the Temple Church in London, plus the OBE Centenary Window in the crypt of St Paul’s Cathedral (2017).

She was also an experienced heraldic designer, with three Field Marshal memorial windows in Sandhurst Chapel, plus armorial panels in Lincoln’s Inn Chapel and several City Livery companies.

Covid and problems with her eyesight interrupted her work, but these issues were resolved. Ironically, the last stained glass she made was this year, for the Apothecaries Hall, where her career began.

Worshipful Company of Glaziers

Caroline was also active at the Worshipful Company of Glaziers, joining in 1985. She sat on the Court for many years, chaired the Glaziers’ Trust, was vice-chairman of the Crafts and Competitions Committee and was involved in many initiatives that supported the craft.

British Society of Master Glass Painters

She joined the BSMGP in the 1970s and soon became a member of the Council. She was elected Chairman in 2000, when she was most active as a designer and craftswoman.

For over 20 years she strove to make the Society a friendly home for all those with a passion for stained glass, whether practitioners, conservators, historians, or enthusiasts. She oversaw significant conferences, exhibitions, the redevelopment of The Journal of Stained Glass, the creation of the current BSMGP website and social media, and much else to promote stained glass.

She will also be remembered for her meticulous planning of the BSMGP annual touring weekend conferences, which she made such engaging and informative experiences. Her commitment to stained glass, often in adversity, and the passion and commitment she gave to craftsmen and the craft she cared about so profoundly, will be her legacy.

Written by Peter Cormack MBE FSA HonFMGP, Vice-President, BSMGP.

Image: Caroline Benyon at work on a heraldic piece. Reproduced with permission from the BSMGP.

Donations in memory of Caroline Benyon can be made to the BSMGP Trust, which supports the charitable arm of the Society, by emailing

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