Harcourt Doyle (1913 – 2001)

Harcourt Medhurst Doyle was born in Liverpool in 1913. He was a student at the Liverpool City School of Art and Crafts, a historic predecessor to the current School of Art and Design at LJMU. He achieved a scholarship to attend the School of Art for the year 1932, where he was particularly influenced by the then Head of Painting, William Charles Penn.

Doyle was later awarded an additional scholarship to study Book Illustration at the Royal College of Art in London in 1933 but became captivated by stained glass and instead gained his Diploma in Design in 1935 here in Liverpool.

Following his studies, Doyle became a highly respected stained glass window artist. Studying with fellow glass artist Martin Travers at the Royal College of Art, and later working as his assistant, formed the foundations of his experience to eventually establish his own studio in Liverpool, which gained him important commissions for Trinity College at Cambridge and for the memorial window after the Golborne colliery disaster at St Thomas's Church in Wigan.

Doyle was known for his church window designs, including the replacement of one window at Chester Cathedral and several other churches after damage by enemy bombing during the Second World War. He was also a three times winner of the Annual Competition of The Worshipful Company of Glaziers and Painters of Glass.

Life was sometimes financially difficult on Doyle as an illustrator in London during the Second World War. Although he was enlisted into the army, he was apparently not suited to life as a soldier and was asked to paint doors instead.

Doyle also designed windows for friends and family, one of which was made in 1939 as a wedding gift to his friends, Arthur and Joan Platt. Their son later donated the glass piece to The Stained Glass Museum in Ely, and a copy of the design is kept at LJMU’s Special Collections and Archives.

When Doyle married his wife Kathleen, they moved to live in Deganwy, North Wales, not far from where his surviving family still live. He maintained a close relationship with his cousin Marie Florence Elizabeth Spencer (Betty), who kept the papers which now survive in our archives today.

LJMU’s Special Collections and Archives hold many of Doyle’s original window designs, as well as one of his published works as an illustrator, his original Christmas card designs and other prints, and letters sent to relatives during his time at the School of Art.

Doyle’s papers were catalogued alongside other archive material related to LJMU’s history as part of the 2023 Bicentenary celebrations.

We are grateful to his family for their kind donation of his papers for future research, study and promotion of the history of our students at LJMU.

To view more of Doyle’s archive material, view online via the catalogue or visit in person at LJMU Special Collections and Archives.