The Development Of The Sliding Sash Window

There are numerous theories concerning the origin of the design of the sliding sash window. Nevertheless, some are more probable than others. The ‘Yorkshire Sash’ has been suggested as an older version of the sliding sash. This type, however, is opened horizontally. Some speculate that country of origin of the sliding sash might be Holland or France. From the two possibilities France seems to be the most probable one. The word sash originates from the French word ‘chassis’. The frame of the French variant, however, was supported by a swivel block and it did not use counter-balancing.

W. Horman seems to be the first person to write about this window design in his work, Vulgaria, in 1589. He writes: “Glasen window is let in the light…I have many pretty wyndowes shette with levys goynge up and down.”

Kensington Palace and Hampton Court Palace are just a few of the numerous famous buildings that were fitted with such windows. They became increasingly popular in English homes in the 17th century. Thomas Kinward was the first person to record this window variation in its contemporary form. Kinward was Sir Christopher Wren’s master joiner and later on, Wren himself endorsed this window design. After the royal approval, the sliding sash gradually became associated with Britain itself, due to its popularity. Throughout the British territories it has been used in various types of buildings up until the beginning of this century.

The sash had proved to be the ideal window design for the unpredictable British weather. It protects against the rain, while ensuring good ventilation. As the basis of this window type is a box, the lifespan of a sash is much longer than of other designs. Furthermore, it improves the aesthetic value of a building, due to an added graceful look.

This aesthetically improved look was often used in Georgian architecture. While the top panel used to be fixed, in this era both glass panels were enabled to move. Larger panes were increasingly popular and soon the ‘six over six’ sash windows emerged. This design is regarded to be characteristically Georgian.

In the Victorian era the sash grew in popularity and started to be decorated in various ways. Some utilized moldings, leaded lights or even latticework. By grouping the windows together, bay window design was often created.

Until the First World War, the sliding sash remained the most characteristic window design of Britain. In wartime, however, it proved not to be a practical choice, as it had to be supported through a complicated procedure against bomb blasts. The costs of these windows were also higher than ideal in post-war times.

Nevertheless, the sliding sash window has been improved in the past few decades with modern techniques and new materials. This design has a traditional value which suites the beauty of the towns in Britain. The classic graceful look of the sash windows is combined with advanced technology to improve not just comfort and aesthetics, but security as well.

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