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Born from the Ashes – The Practical Beginnings of Sash Windows

Sash windows are today heralded for their graceful good looks and unparalleled ventilation, yet it was neither of their advantages that were in the mind of the original designer of the very first sash window. In this blog we explore the interesting beginnings of sash windows, and tell the story of Robert Hooke, who thought that his invention could well prove to be a future life saver.

The Great Fire of London 1666, Legislation and Easy Escape Routes

It is through the Great Fire of London gave way to the first fledgling idea of a sliding sash window. Invented by Robert Hooke, it was imagined that their wide opening would serve as an effective and fast escape route, should property occupants ever need to flee from the perils of fire.
The London Building Act, introduced to ensure that buildings were built to safer standards, specifically stated that window joinery should be set back from the wall which, in turn, would help to stem the spread of a fire. However while sash windows may have begun as a practical solution to a life threatening problem, they soon became a fashion symbol and icon of the times. This was in no small part down to the introduction of sash windows at the Kensington and Hampton Court Palaces. After which, the design really caught on, and by the beginning of the Georgian period sash windows could be seen in a vast number of London homes.

The Impact of Georgian Architecture

English Architect Sir Christopher Wren is considered to be the most significant influencer on architecture during Georgian times. Taking inspiration from Roman and Greek architecture, he inspired an upsurge of now unmistakable properties that feature grand detailing, large sash windows, pillars and perfect symmetry.
Georgian sash windows typically have six glass panes, with some of the more luxurious of properties also featuring decorative pediments overarching the windows. So aesthetically pleasing were they deemed, that casement windows were replaced on-mass – throughout London and beyond, and today, there are original sash windows throughout London that gracefully stand the test of time, despite one hundred and more years having passed.

Wish to restore, replace or refit the sash windows of your period property? Speak with the Wandsworth Sash Windows team, in Clapham or Brockley. Call us on 02036276631 or send us a message via and a member of the team will reply as soon as possible.


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