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The Beautiful History of Sash Windows

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history of sash windows

The history of sash windows through the ages

The sash window is where glazed panels open either vertically or in a swinging movement.

The origins of the sash window is subject to much speculation, with claims to the design from Spain, France, Holland, and England too, of course. British historians attribute ir to the English inventor Robert Hook.

It is thought that the design was invented in the late seventeenth century, when pulleys and weights were first applied to timber sashes and the vertical sliding box sash window was invented. This new style became very popular very quickly, and they were installed throughout Britain in the 1680s and 90s.

Georgian Sash

Chatsworth House, Kensington Palace and Hampton Court Palace all had sash windows by the end of the seventeenth century.

These windows usually had six or eight panes to each sash, with early versions having chunky timbers that subdivided sashes into very small panes due to poor quality and small sizes of glass.

Victorian Sash

Due to improved technology in glass, sash windows grew more ornate in the Victorian Era. With embellished designs, intricate architraves, window trims and stone surrounds, the Victorian sash changed from simple to ornate.

They had fewer subdivisions and larger panes of glass became more fashionable. Georgian windows were altered to fit in with this fashion.

Edwardian Sash Windows

When the death of Queen Victoria started the Edwardian Era, sash windows became much simpler again. They returned to the clean lines of the Georgian era, but on a much larger scale. They were floor to ceiling in height, and up to five foot in width.

Windows of this period often had an upper sash that had multiple panes, and the lower pane had only one or two panes.

This expanse of glass was much heavier than in earlier windows, and this put increased stress on the joints. In 1850, Sash horns were developed to strengthen the mortice and tenon joints and prevent the sashes being opened too far.



Modern Sash Windows

After two and half centuries of the sash window, it fell out of use and popularity around the 1950s.

Some period homes still have their original sash windows, but they are fast becoming very few and far between. Companies like Mighton and TRC Windows create beautiful modern sash windows, so if you want to install new ones, then you still have that option open to you. while sash windows have a reputation for being cold, there are things like weather stripping which will reduce the heat loss.


The history of Sash Windows is a feature post – you might also like my post on VELUX roof windows

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