Wall of Windows exhibition

Wall of Windows exhibition

If you missed the excellent Wall of Windows exhibition at the University of Brighton Gallery in Grand Parade earlier this year sponsored by BHHC in conjunction with the University of Brighton and The Brooking National Collection, LINK here is the story.

The Brighton display followed major success at the Venice Biennale and included windows that ranged from a 17th century wrought-iron casement window from a Hampshire farmhouse to a 1960s window from Portsmouth’s Tricorn Centre

Windows have a fascinating history.

The word ‘window’ – apparently originated as ‘wind hole’ or ‘wind eye’ from the Old Norse in the days before glass was invented and an animal skin was typically draped across the hole for most of the time to keep the elements out.

The following facts about windows are from Wikipedia

Because glass was so hard to make and thus valuable, there was a property tax called the Window Tax based on the number of windows in a house. It was a significant social, cultural, and architectural force in England, France and Scotland during the 18th and 19th centuries. To avoid the tax some houses from the period can be seen to have bricked-up window-spaces (ready to be glazed or reglazed at a later date). In England and Wales it was introduced in 1696 and was repealed in 1851, 156 years after first being introduced. France (established 1798, repealed 1926) and Scotland both had window taxes for similar reasons. Windows were also at risk of being stolen owing to their value!

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. Royal patronage, and its adoption by Wren, made sash windows very fasionable in both old and new buildings, and it immediately became something of a status symbol. Sash windows were ideally suited to Palladio’s “perfect canons of proportion”, that were practised in England by Inigo Jones.

The development of sash windows was timely, because it had enormous aesthetic and practical superiority over the older casement windows.

The wrought-iron hinged metal casement, with its mullions and lead cames, was not only dark and draughty, but the leaded casement restricted the use of larger sheets of glass, owing to the relative weakness of the lead. Casement windows, when open, detracted from the facade rather than enhancing it, whilst the new sash windows were enhancing 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.

The invention of plate glass in the 19th century as a building material was a revelation and enabled windows to move away from multi-paned windows full of impurities. This innovation was heralded by The Crystal Palace of 1851, built by Joseph Paxton to house the Great Exhibition. Paxton’s revolutionary new building inspired the public use of glass as a material for domestic and horticultural architecture. The requisite technology for the construction of plate-glass had been made possible just a few years earlier by James Hartley, working for the firm Chance Brothers. In 1832, Chance Brothers became the first company to adopt the cylinder method to produce sheet glass with the expertise of Georges Bontemps, a famous French glassmaker. The glass was taken from the furnace in large iron ladles and thrown upon a cast-iron bed of a rolling-table, where it is rolled into a sheet with an iron roller. The sheet, still soft, was pushed into the open mouth of an annealing tunnel or temperature-controlled oven called a lehr, down which it was carried by a system of rollers, which enabled the manufacture of curved plate glass too.  Hartley introduced the Rolled Plate method in 1847. This enabled a ribbed finish and was often used for extensive glass roofs such as those found in railway stations.

The mass production of glass was developed in 1887 by the firm Ashley in Castleford, Yorkshire. This semi-automatic process used machines that were capable of producing 200 standardized bottles per hour, many times quicker than the traditional methods of manufacture. Chance Brothers also introduced the machine rolled patterned glass method in 1888.