THE BROOKING NATIONAL ARCHITECTURAL MUSEUM

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Seeing the light

Over the centuries artisans and designers have devised an astonishing range of ways to let in the daylight. The Brooking National Collection contains a vast selection of windows from timber sash and casement to blacksmith-made iron as well as shutters and factory-made types in brass, zinc and steel. Glazing cross-sections show construction and profiling, and there is a representative host of casement handles, stays, sash pulleys and fasteners, weights and shutter-bars.

The blacksmith’s art (right) in the mid-17th century: this expensive, high quality inward-opening casement window, with elaborate fastener and hinges, was removed from Hornchurch Parish Church in Essex around 1923 by W F Crittall of Crittall Windows fame.

It’s just one piece of glass... (left) this elaborate Gothic style top sash came from Farncombe Hill House in Godalming, Surrey. From circa 1865, it uses an intriguing Italian glazing method which involves sliding the single glass pane through a slot in the top of the frame between the two moulded faces.

Detail of a glazing bar (below) shown half-stripped, from the Mill House, The Street, Albury, Surrey, built circa 1781-87. The glazing bar collection is the only one of its kind, and the importance of correct glazing bar profiles cannot be underestimated – subtly, they alter the character of their surroundings. They reached their greatest elegance and refinement around 1785 to 1825. This one is bead and hollow or astragal and hollow.

When was that? (above) Part of a sash pulley dating display from 1690’s to 1980’s. Sash pulleys can be very helpful in dating windows and, in some cases, buildings themselves. The Collection contains several thousand types. Drawing items such as these can heighten the understanding of them.

Folding feature (left) this section of a ground floor window shows the construction of shutters and shutter box from No 2 Beach Road, Hayling Island. This large house, built in 1828, was later the home of the Sandeman port family, and later still a Catholic choir school. This revealing section, acquired in 1993, is one of many equally illustrative examples in The Collection.

Stained glass everywhere (below) this domestic selection of leaded transom lights, circa 1929 to 1939, comes from as far afield as Bradford, Leeds, North Wales and Portsmouth. Designs sometimes show distinct regional features.

Stained and painted glass fanlight (above) from 1885. With coloured bullions and a strong Aesthetic Movement influence, it was rescued from a middle-class villa in the Farnham/Aldershot area, Surrey. A design like this could well have come from a catalogue when the house was built.

The collection includes cross sections of sash boxes that illustrate the variety of construction techniques.

Copper glazing bars are unusual. This one (left) from Grovelands Park, Southgate, London dates from 1797.

Health and safety (left) this arched top sash is from a circa 1860’s mental asylum in the Birmingham area. The glazing, similar to industrial buildings of the period, has cast iron rosettes and rolled wrought iron glazing bars designed for the security and safety of the inmates.

Weighting game (below left) this teaching display gives a behind-the-scenes view of some practical ways found to solve the problem of counterweighting sash windows in the early to late Victorian era, along with a selection of weights from 1690 onwards.

Where’s the catch? (above) This selection shows some of the many imaginative ways designers found to fasten a sash window from the late 19th to early 20th centuries.

In those days they even decorated the sash pulleys ... the face plate of this cast iron example (left)  was, possibly, designed by Christopher Dresser, an important designer of his time. Made by Archibald Kenrick & Sons of West Bromwich, it was produced from around the 1890’s and was still illustrated in the company’s 1926 catalogue.        

Crittall steel window handle c. 1934. Window handles are another useful dating indicator.

Michael Clements, Survey of London.

Michael Clements, Survey of London.

‘Building’ magazine 1986.

‘Building’ magazine 1986.

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