Glassware – Transparent Beauty

Glass was first made in Syria, Mesopotamia or Egypt around 3600 BC perhaps evolving from the making of faience.  The first objects made were beads, however its use rapidly spread with the discovery of glass-blowing which saw the creation of glass vessels and Cyprus and Syria became centres of glass manufacture for the Roman Empire on an industrial scale. The Romans also developed window glass. 

Northern Europe, around 1000 AD, saw the invention of soda glass.  From the 12th century onwards stained glass dominated the Gothic cathedrals, palaces and important buildings. Murano, near Venice, became a centre of glass-making from the 14th century and created a reputation for high-quality thin clear glass with coloured trails.  Elsewhere, Bohemia also developed important glass-making centres and in the 17th century learnt how to engrave glass. English glassmakers added lead to the glass, making it easier to make; in the 18th and 19th centuries, England replaced Venice as the centre of glass manufacture.

The Abbey Museum has a wide variety of glass objects, from tiny ancient Egyptian glass beads to medieval stained glass, from Roman unguentarium to a Venetian winged goblet.