We spend our days making and repairing timber windows, but when were sash windows invented? This is a great question as we do see their presence everywhere through the towns and cities of Ireland.
It is unclear exactly where they came from, but the term ‘sash’ is thought to come from the French word “chassis, ” meaning frame. it is widely believed that the design came from either Holland or France during the 1600s.
This new window style moved from the continent to the UK with the fashion for classical architecture and the Irish followed suit.
The earliest surviving sash windows in Ireland are from 1680 in Kilkenny Castle. Prior to this, leaded casement windows were popular amongst the wealthy. Bear in mind, that glazed windows were a privilege only afforded to a few at this time.
By the 1730s, sash windows were widespread across Ireland and the UK.
The early sash windows are characterised by blocky, thick-set frames and glazing bars. The sashes moved up and down inside a frame manually and were held open with pegs.
Then the pulley and cord system was invented to help to open, close, and maintain steady ventilation. The pulleys were made of hardwoods such as pear, apple, or olive wood. During our restoration work of the windows at Westport House, we found one such pulley hidden behind the frame.
The great fire of London in 1666 caused major changes in the laws around window design. it is widely believed that the fire began in a bakery in Pudding Lane and spread rapidly to thousands of properties across the city. At the time there were no window sills and the exposed timber frames allowed the spread of the flames.
The 1709 London Building Act and subsequent 1774 London Building Act required the windows to be set back with 100mm window sills and later required that the frames be recessed in the building work.
This photo that we took of a house in Portobello, Dublin shows the blocky early frames that were prominently visible in this hipped gable roofed “Dutch billy” style house, in comparison to the second photo of a later Georgian sash facade with the recessed frames, built in 1755 on Henrietta Street, Dublin.
Although we do not know who invented sash windows, we do know that their popularity is here to stay. In fact, they are so suitable to our climate that they have been in use here for more than 250 years now, and are still being fitted into new traditional design houses.
Timeless Sash Windows are Ireland’s leading bespoke timber window and door experts for historical restorations and new projects.
View our company profile video to get an insight into what we do. Or for some quick advice read the most frequently asked questions. Visit our showroom on Haggard Street Trim, by appointment only – call 046-9023323 to arrange.