Are sash windows Victorian? A short history

The sash window has a long and varied history in the United Kingdom, beginning in the 17th century. This style of window is said to have Dutch origins and replaced the traditional ‘side-hung’ windows that came before. Their first recorded use in the UK was in 1676-80 at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire following the development of materials and the modernisation of building techniques.

Chatsworth House Sash Windows

As materials such as building putty were developed, glass panes were now able to sit comfortably within the timber frame. These advancements provided a progressive approach to sheltering the home from the external elements, illuminating dark rooms and providing a continental, stylish aesthetic of grandeur. Stately homes of the Tudor period underwent developments inspired by European opulence. Following the Civil War, royalists reclaimed their properties and were keen to develop their homes in line with the European trends they’d learnt during wartime travels to France, Holland and Italy.

As revolutionary steps were being made in the development of British architecture, every day, common buildings began to adopt the sash window. The style evolved over the years to accommodate additional functions and purposes. The archetypal Victorian sash window has the following characteristics:

  • It is delicate – the glass, timber frame and pulling mechanism was in its early stages of development and was an altogether delicate structure.
  • It is ornate – the Victorians made the design more decorative with multi panes and narrow glazing bars. Due to a change in building regulations towards the end of the 18th century, Victorians were able to experiment more freely with the design of their sash window.
  • Larger glass panes – larger panes allowed more light in and were grander in appearance.
  • Sash horns – these additions accommodated the additional weight of the larger panes and were designed to strengthen and reinforce the mortice and tenon joints.

In modern Britain, these delicate window panes have been adapted to include contemporary features, such as:


Replacement windows for a Victorian house

The classic sash window has continued to evolve over the years and new technology has been introduced to improve the efficiency, functionality and quality of the original design. Wooden sash windows continue to be a popular choice for modern homes and the restoration of these original, period features are key to retaining the beauty and character of older properties.

Although sash windows were not introduced in the Victorian era, their introduction to the mass market rapidly excelled in this time frame. The 19th century saw a drastic change in the way that products were handled, imported and developed – a social and economic change that impacted the construction industry and architecture of the country. Although first introduced to stately homes, sash windows began to replace existing windows in ordinary homes across the country. In the 21st century, sash windows continue to be representative of Victorian and Georgian architecture. Not only are they highly sought after in the current housing market, they are protected by 21st-century building regulation and regarded as a quintessentially British period feature.

What types of sash windows can be repaired in the 21st century? Click here to view our full sash window range.