The most celebrated of the small band of Methodist stained glass artists and perhaps the only Methodist manufacturer of stained glass, was born at Bradford-on-Avon on 21 August 1824, the son of the Rev. James Heaton (1782-1862; e.m. 1806).
His company, Heaton, Butler and Bayne, had a palette of 130 colours at their disposal compared to the 10 that had been available to the artists of the Middle Ages and to which Victorian designers continued to adhere; Heaton forced the craft to move on from the nostalgia in which it had revelled. His technical experiments resulted in his ‘indestructible colours’ for the English climate which were adopted by all the leading firms. In 1880 he rediscovered the flux used by the medieval glaziers. Though he was the son of a Wesleyan Methodist minister, an analysis of Heaton, Butler & Bayne’s Catalogue for 1932 reveals that only ten of the 1,500 stained glass projects since the Company’s inception were for Methodist churches, and eight of those were for WM churches. This was a measure of the reluctance of Methodism to dabble in what was then deemed to be high church ornamentation of chapels.
The iconography of the firm’s windows was initially neo-Gothic and conservative, but blossomed when the Pre-Raphaelite, Henry Holiday was employed as a designer in the 1870s.
Heaton died at Bournemouth on 24 February 1882 and was succeeded by his son, Clement John Heaton (1861-1940), who fell out with the partners of his father’s company, married a Swiss and emigrated to Switzerland. There he designed windows for Protestant ‘temples’ most famously for Lausanne Cathedral of the Swiss Reformed Church, and for some Roman Catholic ‘eglises’. Preparatory cartoons in his archives for this period include some of Wesley preaching, with the assumption that these were for Swiss Methodist churches. He then emigrated to the USA and died in New York.