St Monica Trust Bristol

It was in the early twentieth century that Monica Wills first devised the idea of creating a small rest home for five or six missionary friends. This idea grew and by 1919 Monica and her husband Henry Wills, purchased the Cote house estate, and founded a charity named the St Monica Home of Rest. The Wills then commissioned their friend and architect George Oatley to design the home. After the site was cleared, priority was given to the building of the new chapel that would form the centre piece of the complex. Five years after the foundation stone for the chapel was laid in 1920, the building of the St Monica Home was finally completed.

At first between 70 and 80 residents were housed in the main house, with Oatley Court being used as housing for the live-in nursing staff.

Today the site is known as the Cote Lane Retirement village, and is run by the St Monica Trust. At its heart is are the grade II listed Oatley House and St Monica’s Court, the former home to 70 retire­ment homes and the latter to around 30 residents. Oatley chose an Elizabethan revival style, incorporating course pennant rubble with limestone dressing and squared leaded light windows.

In 2014 Jamie Moore, Managing Director, was asked by the Trust to carry out an extensive survey to the historic buildings as many of the windows were leaking and there were localized issues with the stonework. Following the survey it was determined that the leaded lights needed to be removed to the specialist workshops, stripped, cleaned, re-leaded, and reset back in the buildings’ historic bronze casements.

For the past year the specialist site team, overseen by Mike Batters and Sarah Woodall have been systematically working through all of the buildings on site, with our stained glass studio in Chester taking the workshop-based strain! Whilst they are not the most complicated pieces of leaded glazing Recclesia have worked on, being composed of only rectangular sections of glass, the difficulty has come from sheer quantity. To date over 3,000 leaded lights have been remade, requiring over 10,000 individual pieces of glass to be carefully cleaned by hand. Over two tons of putty and well over two miles of lead came has been used.

The project will complete in 2018 with the windows of the on-site chapel being the last to undergo repair.