traditional timber sash window in yorkshire cottageFurther to my first blog about the history of sash windows I thought it timely to tell you how they continued to thrive before falling out of favour during the 20th century until today where they are again enjoyingtheir rightful place in the nation’s popularity.

Later Improvements

As the 18th Century progressed, the construction of sash windows improved,glazing bars became steadily thinner and became the norm. In more expensive work, these bars were sometimes constructed of iron or brass and often
painted to appear like wood.As the century progressed and larger panes of glass became available.

Window construction also improved and by the end of the Century the basic construction, that is familiar today, had developed.
Later cast-iron and brass sash pulleys superseded the earlier types, illustrating the care, thought and invention, that went into the improvement of sash windows.

Although early sash windows were mainly constructed of oak, imported Baltic softwoods became widely used for sash windows. However oak remained common for window sills, the rest of the window being constructed of soft wood.

Glass & Glazing

The most common form of glass throughout the Georgian period was Crown glass. This was made by blowing, with a central bull’s-eye.

By the 1850′s, more expensive villas and terraced houses were built with plate-glass windows to front facades whilst glazing bars were still used in basements,attics and on less important elevations.

The most widely used design were four-paned sash windows. Sheet glass was common in Victorian Gothic villas and terraces, and by the 1870′s the four paned sash was the standard for cheaper terraced houses, although there were regional variations.

In the 1870′s and 1880′s the influence of architects such as Philip Webb and Norman Shaw, and the Queen Anne Revival style, led to the return of glazing bars, which often imitated Queen Anne windows with Victorian modifications, such as sash windows horns.

Many patents were taken out for sash windows in the later 19th Century, One of these may be seen in hotels and public buildings in particular with a device which allowed the sash to pivot inwards to facilitate cleaning.

Victorian & Edwardian

After the First World War, although sash windows were still used in larger houses in the neo-Georgian style, a revival of vernacular styleswas seen. Oan sash window. Banks Hall Yorkshire

The construction of sash windows involved sophisticated techniques and mouldings,with added labour costs, and this was probably one of the major reasons why mass-produced steel and timber windows became popular, particularly for housing estates.

Twenties & Thirties

During the twenties and thirties, chains often replaced sash cords in the domestic setting. Chains had been employed for large plate-glass windows in the 19th Century, but were then rare in houses. By 1939, the use of sash windows was confined largely to neo-Georgian buildings, particularly post offices, banks, public houses and local
authority housing estates.

After the Second World War, the sash window popularity declined. The steel spiral balance began to replace the pulley and weights, which were expensive to make. Mass-produced casements became universal, and the sash was considered

By the 1950′s, many owners of older houses were replacing sash windows with up-to-date steel casements and by the 60s with plate-glass, often with louvered vents at the top, thus disfiguring many a splendid Victorian house.

By the mid 1970′s the aluminium window, with its sealed glass unit, began to supersede the idea of internal double glazing, and window replacement began on a scale never before seen in this country. By the early 1980′s, this process increased. It became quite usual, not only for the actual sash to be replaced, but for the whole frame to be replaced by a hardwood frame and an aluminium double-glazed unit-totally unsuitable aesthetically for an older house.

I believe this disfigurement on such a large scale has been a motivation behind people’s decision to return to the sash window as a replacement style for their homes.
Hundreds of years of nurturing a classic style cannot be wiped out purely for financial practicalities alone and the enduring appeal of the sash window is now seeing a revival.

Long may it continue and long may we at Croxfords provide you with timeless and durable traditional timber sash windows for your home.

traditional sash windows

We often get asked to produce sash windows for clients and I enjoy the challenge of producing these classic windows every time. I think it must be something to do with the beauty of them and how they have so heavily influenced classic design in Regency, Georgian and Victorian architecture.

So I thought I would share some of my knowledge of their origins with you and over the next couple of weeks tell you how they evolved to the point that they are making an impression on design in the twenty first century.

Whoever made the first sash windows has been the subject of many a debate and speculation and, until recently, the general opinion was that sash windows were invented in Holland in the late 17th Century.

Sash Windows supplied by CroxfordsHowever recent research work undertaken by Dr Hinte Louw, of the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne, suggests that sash windows could have been invented earlier in the 17th Century in England whilst some historians suggest that sash windows originated in France as the word “sash” derives from the French “chassis” , which means frame. I like the idea that they came from the Yorkshire sash which slid horizontally and without weights.But in the end, who cares, sash windows are as traditionally British as cricket and Yorkshire puddings, and have become synonymous with all kinds of Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian architecture.

Early Use
The earliest-known use of sash windows in this country was in the later part of the 17th Century, at Chatsworth (c1676-1680), Ham House, Hampton Court Palace and Kensington Palace. Ideally suited to the “perfect canons of proportion” with their subtle style and elegance, sash windows were one of the most important visual elements in buildings of the 18th and 19th Centuries and together with Royal patronage and adoption by Sir Christopher Wren, sash windows very quickly became both fashionable and a status symbol in old and new buildings throughout the United Kingdom.

The development of sash windows was timely as they had enormous aesthetic and practical superiority over the older casement windows.

These wrought-iron hinged metal windows, with their mullions and lead cames, were not only dark and draughty, but weaknesses in the leaded casement restricted the use of larger sheets of glass.

Casement windows, when open, detracted from the facade rather than enhance it, whilst the new sash windows were smart with their white frameworks and larger sheets of glass. The crown glass in these early sash windows created beautiful reflections that could not be matched by the small panes of earlier windows.

People who could afford the new sash windows ruthlessly cut out their leaded-light windows, which explains why so many larger 16th and 17th Century houses have early 18th Century windows.
This fashionable modernisation was often lavished only on the principal facades, and early casement windows often survived on the less prominent facades. The earliest sash windows had thick glazing bars to the sashes, which were usually constructed of oak, the weight box being set almost flush with the outer wall.

Next week I will bring you up to date with the history of sash windows and how they are now seeing a revival in the twenty first century.

Sasy window restoration projectThe window above (photo on the left)  has had the sash box fully refurbished and new double glazed draft proofed sashes installed. It meets current 2011 building regulations, is registered with FENSA, was approved by the local conservation officer and comes with a 5 year insurance backed warranty.

To achieve this result has not been easy. Georgian bar Sash windows are notoriously difficult to double glaze sympathetically. Most conservation officers are well aware of this and often insist that windows remain single glazed. The main problem is the width of the glazing bar, this can be as narrow as 16mm but more typically it is in the 19-28mm range. It’s all the Georgians needed – as there was no spacer bar to conceal, then a circa 6mm glazing rebate would suffice.

Achieving the look of single glazing with double glazed sashes requires care. It is essential to match all the dimensions of the original sash exactly, including the glazing bar and as can be seen on the final picture, where our double glazed Georgian sashes are adjacent to a property with the original single glazed windows, it is exceptionally hard to tell which one has been double glazed.

So how do we achieve this result? Well if you’d like to find out our secrets learn how you can double glaze your Georgian sliding box sashes without compromising your period look, then give us a call and we can come out and do a free survey on your property.

Croxfords – Specialist  Joinery Manufacturers