EXPERTS have confirmed that a Gourock church has a priceless stained glass window created by a world renowned artist.

It was always believed that the St John's memorial window by Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones was authentic.

But a project to look into the history of the church to mark its 175th anniversary prompted further research.

Researcher Kay Clark helped the church to apply for funding for the project and they received £240,000 from National Lottery Heritage Lottery Fund and Heritage Environment Scotland.

Kay said: "When we first applied for the heritage lottery fund, we asked stained glass artist Alec Galloway and council archivist Lorraine Murray to look at the window.

"I looked at newspaper archives at Central Library and found a feature on the history of St John's in the Gourock Advertiser in 1923.

"It confirmed that Cottier and Co. in London were commissioned to make a memorial window.

"In 1875 the congregation had a whip round and raised £80, which was a huge amount of money then."

The window- entitled Spes, Fides - Hope and Faith - was made by the world-famous Morris &Co which included Burne Jones and was dedicated to the memory of former minister Robert MacKellar.

Alec says the window is unique and priceless.

He said: "There's always a bit of doubt, as none of these windows are signed and when it doesn't have a signature, it could be a replica.

"Morris had a catalogue listing their work and there are other examples of windows featuring the same figures all over the UK.

"Part of the research was to find evidence and proof of these other examples.

"The Morris company and Burne-Jones were world class and to be able to commission the top people around was quite a feat for a local church.

"These windows were more likely to be found in cathedrals.

"It's quite a unique situation and it's incredibly exciting.

"There are Morris collectors all over the world - the window is priceless to be honest."

Alec says the colours are not as vibrant as other pieces and this could have been because the church, originally a Free Church, would have asked for the colours to be toned down,

Archivist Lorraine Murray says she recognised the work as Burne-Jones straight away.

She told the Telegraph: "Burne-Jones created designs for his friend and colleague William Morris of Morris and Co. and these designs were published in their catalogue for commercial stained glass window commissions.

"The process was that the client would choose a design from the brochure and it would be adapted to suit the size and scale of the commission, with a different designer creating a unique background and text design based on the specification of the client.

"In the instance of St John’s it is possible that Daniel Cottier had a hand in this.

"Other similar examples exist elsewhere including Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford, St Martin's Church in Brampton, All Saints in Leeds, and St Margaret's Church in Hopton-on-Sea.

"An interesting detail about the examples in St John’s is the rich symbolism included in both windows.

"As the Church was originally a Free Church, the inclusion of pomegranates and grapes is rather unexpected, as the pomegranate represents temptation and sexuality, while grapes represent wine and the Roman God Bacchus.

"Together they allude to a contrasting attitude when compared to the morals and ethics of the Free Church at that time."