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​BDA Museum acquires rare stained-glass window featuring St Apollonia

8 February 2019

St Apollonia stained glass window
The BDA Museum has purchased a rare 15th century example of St Apollonia in stained glass, which is now on display in the BDA’s offices in London. 

The window was purchased by a generous grant from the Beecroft Bequest and through individual donations from supporters. 

Although in surprisingly good condition for its age, we did some conservation work on the glass to restore it, and we commissioned a custom-made lightbox so it can be displayed at the entrance to our Museum. 

St Apollonia’s feast day is held every 9 February, she is the patron saint of toothache sufferers. Apollonia refused to renounce her faith and threw herself into the flames in Alexandria in 249 AD. 

Praying to her in medieval times was thought to bring relief from toothache. 

There are over fifty depictions of St Apollonia in English churches often on rood screens and windows. 

Originally from a church in Somerset, this window is a rare and vibrant depiction of the saint in a traditional pose, where she is clasping an extracted tooth in a pair of large forceps. 

BDA Museum Head Rachel Bairsto said: 

"We are delighted to add this beautiful example of St Apollonia to our collection. The acquisition of this window will greatly enrich our understanding of dentistry during this period and enhance our displays. We’d like to thank our donors and supporters for enabling us to be able to display this fantastic example in our Museum". 

As part of the project, we will be producing a film that explores the significance of the window, which will be available to view alongside the object, thanks to a grant from the Museum of London's London Museum Development Team. 

BDA Museum: our dental heritage

The BDA Museum has one of the largest collections of dental heritage in the UK. Spanning the 17th to the present day, highlights of the collection include dental chairs, drills, oral hygiene products, and the infamous 'Waterloo' teeth. Pop in and see for yourself!