Preserving sash windows

Preserving sash windows and architectural heritage

Cheshire is one of the most beautiful counties in England, with a rich history dating back over 2000 years. This is something that is clearly on display in Chester.

Chester is arguably the richest city in Britain for archaeological and architectural treasures preserved to this day from the time of the Roman occupation. The two-mile circumference of the Roman walls still survives today and has served as a popular walkway for over 400 years. Right next to the walls, there is a true archaeological treasure in the preserved Roman amphitheatre.

However, the city is littered with history from all across the middle ages and contains over 2500 listed buildings incorporated into a series of conservation areas. Some of the most famous buildings such as the Dutch Houses have been important buildings for over 200 years.

The most distinctive medieval feature of the city is The Rows. These are double-level walkways with a continuous line of balconies and with shops at street and first-floor levels. The Rows are unique and were certainly in existence in the 14th century.

Very little is known about their origins but their distinct style has become a popular tourist attraction. Almost all the buildings in The Rows are shops. The lower shop on the ground floor usually requires going down a few steps to enter the premises with the storey above containing the famous walkways that make ‘the Row’.

14 different buildings incorporate different sections of the Chester Rows, nine of which are grade 1 listed.

One of the distinguishing features of the actual buildings themselves – besides the aforementioned inlaid balconies – is the architectural styles they’ve been built with. Some of the oldest buildings, the classic black and white medieval buildings stand out, however, it is easy to tell which have been renovated or are new additions to the originals.

Many of the original windows have not survived to the modern day – half a millennium is a long time for anything to survive – and so a lot of the windows have been replaced. The original medieval style of window would have been replaced many centuries ago in line with the Building Act of 1774 following the Great Fire of London to help reduce the spread of fire across a building’s façade. Sash and casement windows became popular from the late 1600s and the Chester Rows will almost certainly have all been fitted with one of these styles. Thankfully, due to their listed status, any work to the buildings, including the restoration, repair or replacement of any windows, must be done sympathetically. This means the Rows, and other listed buildings, will have their original features protected and only necessary works that will not compromise the integrity of the buildings’ heritage will be granted.

A glance at any period property in Chester, or any other English town or city, will tell you all you need to know about its history. You can guess the period of almost any building by identifying the way in which the windows were built. If you want to find out more, please refer to our previous piece ‘A Brief History of Windows in Britain’.

At joineryworkshop.com we are sash window specialists. We offer a full range of restoration, double-glazing or full replacement of sash and casement windows all manufactured bespoke to your specification. Work on listed buildings is frequently entrusted to us in view of our abilities with sympathetic and painstaking restoration. We cover everything from repair, restoration and replacement through to how to double glaze your windows without losing their character. We also offer guidance on the rules and regulations in different conservation areas as we have worked on a number of restoration projects around the UK. Please contact our local Chester and Cheshire team on 01244 940 671 to discuss your specific requirements or email enquiry@joineryworkshop.com.

Posted in Sash & Casement Windows, Doors.

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