A legacy from the 17th century, the vertical sliding
sash window is enjoying a resurgence of popularity
in the UK and, today, is recognized as an outstanding
symbol of simple and functional style.
The majority of traditional sash windows are box frames
in which pulleys are set and weights hung to counterbalance
the sashes. A variation to the traditional weighted
sash is the horizontally-sliding ‘Yorkshire’
sash which, despite the name, appears in many English
counties, including Sussex, our main supply area.
In the 17th century, with glass being expensive to
manufacture and only available in small sizes, an
arrangement of six panes in each sash was fairly common.
Over time, glazing bars became thinner and more refined
and windowpane numbers often increased. This trend
reached its zenith in the Regency period with beautiful
and graceful window designs adorning fine townhouses
across the land. The development of plate glass also
affected architectural style in the mid 19th century,
and many older multi-paned windows were substituted
by four-paned windows while from shortly after this
period, houses sported large single pane sashes of
the type widely seen today.
The craftsmanship involved in the production of early
windows is significant and their individuality is
equally noticeable. This can be seen in various ways,
for example, in the numbering of sashes to sash boxes
and in the subtle “flaws” contained within
the original glass. Sash windows were not only the
products of skilled workmanship, they also used the
highest standard of timber and materials, the living
proof of this being their longevity - they have literally
withstood centuries of wear.
In contrast, many modern materials used in window construction
begin to yellow and crack after 10 to 15 years. Even
timber windows, made to original designs, do not necessarily
have the durability of their older counterparts. By
comparison, a window built in the 18th, or 19th century
can be salvaged virtually intact, forming a superior
quality foundation for the future. This means that
even windows considered ‘beyond repair’
may have only superficial deterioration and can continue
to provide, quite literally, further centuries of
wear. For these reasons we recommend retaining original
fittings wherever possible. Furthermore, a simple,
but thorough overhaul, can often address issues such
as rotting sash cords, whilst re-balancing weights
can ensure that sashes will slide smoothly and for
these reasons we recommend regular maintenance schedules.
The sash assembly comprises a sash box, or overall
frame, that houses the articulated parts of the window.
Inside of the box are the two sashes themselves. These
are called the upper and lower sashes. Each sash has
its own sash cord and counter-balanced weight running
within the hollow frame of the sash box. Using these
each sash light can slide independently within the
frame yet remain in an open position without props,
pegs or wedges. The articulation of a sash window
is shown in the animation to the right.