brick wall building sash windows

The History of Sash Windows

Learn the evolution of sash windows and why different periods created different styles.

Sash Windows are a quintessential English design, often
found in Georgian and Victorian houses. However, due to their elegant design,
they are still being used in modern houses to this day and the desire for sash
window restoration and updated sash windows is still very prominent.

It is hard to credit one person with inventing sash windows
as a more likely explanation for how they came into being would be that they were
developed from earlier versions of horizontal sliding windows. Some of the
earliest examples of sash windows can be seen in sixteenth century Holland and
France. However, the design soon moved to the UK where it is believed English
inventor Robert Hooke furthered their design to give us the traditional box
sash window. Their popularity over here was becoming very apparent by the mid
to late seventeenth century.

When sash windows were first made popular in Georgian England, the common design were comprised
of six to eight small panes of crown glass, held together with thin glazing
bars which were intricately designed. They were cleverly designed like this
because obtaining large pieces of good quality glass for large sash windows was
very difficult and expensive. This design therefore allowed people to have
larger windows which only required small pieces of glass.

Sash windows also became very popular particularly in London
and other built up areas post 1666, due to the great fire of London. Building
regulations following this event stated that in these areas, windows must be
set back four inches in order to prevent the spread of fire which was easy to
achieve with the design of sash windows.

The development of glass in the Victorian era brought with
it an evolution to the style and design of sash windows. The invention of
cylinder plate glass in the early eighteenth century meant that larger panes of
glass could be manufactured, and multiple small panels were replaced with large
pieces held together with slimmer glazing bars, or a single pane removing the need
for glazing bars entirely.

From the Edwardian period and later, it is evident they began to combine features from earlier sash widows. 

They adopted the style of Georgian sash windows but upgraded the glass and technology of the windows by adding a

horn to the upper sash to add extra support under the weight of the new, heavier glass.

Unfortunately, we can see a halt in development of sash windows around the early-mid 20th Century, due to the WorldWars. 

These wars meant that there was a significant loss to capable tradesmen who
could update the changing designs of these widows. However, sash windows have
survived being phased out through history due to their classic design and the ability
to repair any damages that may occur over time, providing a cheaper alternative
to replacing an entire window. Following the wars, and the recovery of the
country, the development and modernisation of sash windows once again
continued. Nowadays, double glazed sash windows provide the most recent
development as they allow for a more economic running of the home.

Read more on the benefits of double glazed sash windows in our next blog!

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