Sash bay windows can be found in properties across the UK. They are a distinctive feature of many period properties and are great for creating the feeling of extra interior space and allowing more natural light to enter a building. Sash bay windows became extremely popular in the Victorian and Edwardian eras and are often viewed as synonymous with this time. Their origin, however, dates back much further.
The origin of sash bay windows
Sash bay windows were originally used in the Middle Ages (5th – 15th century). They were particularly popular during the Gothic period (12th – 16th century) when they were known as oriel windows. Oriel windows were usually an ornamental addition to a building rather than a structural part. The area inside the bay window alcove was often used as a small house chapel containing an altar for prayer.
Oriel windows were added to stone cathedral buildings across Europe during the Gothic period. At a similar time, they were used across the Arab world as a balcony area where women could view public life from behind a privacy screen.
During the English Renaissance (15th – 17th century) sash bay windows became popular in domestic architecture. Many of the grand houses of the Baroque period (16th – 18th century) favoured sash bay windows for their capacity to bring light into a building thus illuminating the ornate detailing of the time.
Victorian and Edwardian sash bay windows
Until the late 19th century, most oriel windows were located on the upper floors of buildings. Protrusions from the ground floor were seen as hazardous to pedestrians and would have blocked the narrow streets. In the late Victorian era, Building Regulations were relaxed, and ground floor windows no longer had to be flush with the exterior wall.
This change in legislation led to many properties being built with protruding sash bay windows. The Victorians set the standards which would become the design template for the Edwardian and following modernist 20th century periods.
The Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau movements heavily influenced the design of Edwardian sash bay windows. Arched topped windows and decorative mouldings were an integral part of Edwardian architecture, while a focus on creating a light and airy living space was perfectly suited to the curved construction of bow windows in particular.
Fine examples of the Edwardian architectural style can be seen across the UK, particularly in wealthy seaside areas such as Brighton where the rich would visit for relaxation. In the early 20th century, sash bay windows had reached their zenith in terms of both style and popularity.
In the 21st century, sash bay windows have seen a resurgence in popularity in new build properties. Their classic design is proving popular with modern homeowners seeking to maximise the natural light and optimise the space in their home. At the Rose Collection, our sash bay windows are bespoke designed to almost any specification. We can design Victorian and Edwardian sash bay windows for period property replacements or installation in more modern homes.
For more information about the Rose Collection call 01234 712 657 or contact us online.