Dating buildings using window style

A large glazed opening in a wall allowing light to an interior is a relatively modern innovation in Ireland, as limited glass-making technology and the practical need for defence militated against such extravagance until the seventeenth century.

Before this time, windows in castles and defensive buildings were small and randomly placed, typically serving a security function in the form of arrow loops, or as narrow slits lighting stairwells and closets – many of which were not glazed at all.

Stephen’s Green from the 1660s onwards are likely to have featured such glazed windows, with a drawing of a house on College Green from as late as the 1680s indicating that quarried panes and mullions were still in use at this time.

This architectural fashion is often thought of in terms of our major public buildings, but its influence was far-reaching, ensuring that for nearly three hundred years most of the buildings of Ireland’s villages, towns and cities, as well as its rural architecture, would conform to basic neo-Palladian principles of design.

Symmetrically positioned windows, centrally placed doors, tall rectangular window opes, and elegantly designed window glazing that mirrored the proportions of the building, all became commonplace.

This requires understanding and careful management, as if the subtle balance of proportion and detail of historic windows is upset or discarded, the harmony and integrity of our built heritage can be irreplaceably eroded.

However, by understanding the historic evolution of window design and technology, and the influences of architectural thinking, it becomes possible to appreciate the joys of Ireland’s window heritage, making every journey along a road or street a stimulating delight for the eyes.

In any event, it would appear that Ireland was equally keen to adopt the style, with widespread use in all forms of building documented as early as the 1730s.

Early forms of sash window looked quite different to the majority that survive today.Much of the glass used at this time was originally imported from countries such as France and the modern area of Belgium, however by the early 1600s there was a number of glassmakers based in Ireland producing for the local market, many of whom had originally come from the Continent and brought their trade with them.Fashionable new houses being built on Dublin’s Aungier Street and St.This coincided with a growing interest in classical architecture, spurred on by public building projects such as Dublin’s Royal Hospital at Kilmainham and the gradual reconstruction of Dublin Castle.Windows became taller and narrower in the classical manner, though in some cases, such as the new State Apartments in Dublin Castle or Lord Clancarty’s mansion on College Green, both built in the 1680s, mullions and transoms continued to be used.Larger mullioned windows were deployed sparingly in reception rooms and the great halls of castles and tower houses, but in most cases only small diamond-shaped panes of glass known as ‘quarries’ were used.

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