A Brief History Of Casement Windows
Jul 10, 2014
Quite simply a casement window is an window where the opening part is hinged, most commonly along the internal vertical frame. However, there are so many different kinds that we can find dotted throughout British properties, varied because of the heritage status of a building; the time the windows were installed and where they are located!
It all started back in the latter half of the 18th century, when the stone mullioned window fell out of fashion. Though seen nowadays as a touch of class, stone mullioned windows weren't very adaptable, and in many cases, couldn't open to let in much air. Their stone struts further prevented a great deal of light getting in, and with the housing industry growing, people started wanting something a little more refined.
So along came the hinged window. Small panes of glass separated by thinner glazing bars, the casement style window allowed for a lot more light to enter the property, was less heavy and easier to construct.
As time went on Crown Glass and cylinder sheet became more widely available, replacing the smaller panes of broad sheet. These larger sheets of glass often came with imperfections from the manufacturing process, which at the time were a bit of a blight on the consumer, but nowadays are seen to be a touch of timeless history that new, imperfect glasses can't offer.
Very early casement windows were mostly constructed using iron, with lead used as lattice work across the glass. Over time, this fashion died out and manufacturers started transitioning to timber construction. It was during the Victorian period that we eventually saw a full conversion to using timber, with oak becoming the highly preferred wood type.
For well over a century the casement window remained in its original form, with a structure of six rectangular panes. However as architecture changed, so too did the casement. With the dawning of the Gothic age in the nineteenth century, we saw a shift towards incorporating the instantly recognisable Gothic arch in the uppermost panes, for example.
As the quality of glass available became a lot better, the need for so many sheets and glazing bars became redundant. In the later half of 19th century, we see a lot of casement windows that feature only two panes in each half, with one bar strapped along the middle.
Then, as space in the big cities became more of concern, and we started seeing the town houses that still line our streets today, being erected, the sash window started taking over. Rather than caring about the character, dynamism and beauty of casement windows, with their intricate and varied designs, people wanted a window that was more efficient and ergonomic.
Though we do see properties being installed with casement windows nowadays, a lot of our work is down to replacing or repairing casements in listed properties, where the architectural style of the original needs to be exactly matched. A truly wonderful style of window, that can offer the designer a great deal in the way of inspiration, we hope to see a revival of the casement window in the near future!
Image by Roland Tanglao