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The transition from the Georgian era to the Victorian era in the UK brought about significant changes in architecture. The Victorian period saw the rise of the Gothic Revival style, inspired by medieval architecture, and the continuation of neoclassical influences with added decorative elements. Industrial advancements influenced the construction of large industrial buildings and railway stations. Overall, the Victorian era introduced a diverse range of architectural styles, reflecting cultural, social, and technological shifts of the time.

Window styles also underwent notable changes during Queen Victoria’s reign. Georgian windows were typically symmetrical and featured large, multi-paned sash windows. In contrast, the Victorian era introduced a variety of window styles. Gothic-inspired windows with pointed arches and tracery became popular, as did bay windows that projected outwards, arched windows of various forms, and stained-glass windows for decorative purposes. Additionally, advancements in glass manufacturing led to the availability of larger plate glass windows and casement windows that opened outward. These changes in window styles brought diversity, character, and enhanced functionality to Victorian architecture.

You have likely spotted Victorian style windows around your town, without realising what the style was known as or why.  They come from one of the most loved periods of architectural history and their traditional style is still love by homeowners today. We take a thorough look into Victorian window style and how authentic Victorian windows are replicated in modern day manufacture.

Characteristics of Victorian windows

Whilst Victorian architecture encompassed a wide range of styles, and the specific characteristics of Victorian windows can vary depending on the sub-style or period within the Victoria era, there are general features that can help to recognise and identify Victorian windows:

Sash windows were a symbolic style of the Victorian era with frames and sashes typically made from wood. The frames often had a thicker profile compared to the slimmer frames of Georgian windows. The use of decorative mouldings or profiles on the window frames was also common.

Victorian windows are typically characterised by their ‘two over two panel’ grid design that features on both the top and bottom panes, significantly less than the ‘six over six’ panel typical of the Georgian style that reigned before them. Glass panes are connected by horizontal or vertical wooden bars which are often slimmer than their surrounding frame to optimise the amount of light allowed to flood into a room or building.

Other features symbolic of Victorian windows include:

Shape variety

Shape variety

Victorian windows come in a wide range of shapes, including rectangular, square, arched, or bay windows. The use of different shapes added visual interest and architectural variety to buildings.

Stained glass

Stained glass

Stained glass windows were popular during Victorian times, incorporating coloured glass pieces arranged in beautiful, intricate patterns or designs. Stained glass windows can be a recognisable feature of Victorian architecture, which you will still frequently spot in lots of churches, grand residences, or public buildings.

Decorative detailing

Decorative detailing

Victorian windows often boast stunning decorative detailing and embellishments including intricate mouldings, ornate carvings, and intricate patters or motifs on the window frames, sashes, or surrounding trim.


Victorian sash windows

Victorian living was focused on elaborate designs and intricate details, and Victorian sash windows were a great way for people to flaunt their wealth. It wasn’t uncommon for windows to have four, eight, 12 or 16 panes. However, Victorian sashes were typically designed with a two over two panel grid design on both top and bottom panes. The number of sash windows and their size was an indication of the wealth held by the homeowner, Even today, they remain one of the main window designs guaranteed to add to your home’s value.

While the Georgian era also used multi-paned windows, Victorian windows often had larger panes of glass compared to the smaller individual panes of Georgian windows. As we mentioned earlier, Victorian windows commonly feature larger panes of glass divided by glazing bars – astragal bars – into smaller sections.

Modern Victorian windows

Thanks to significant advances in modern glass technology, it is possible to retain the historic sash style and period features of Victorian windows and combine it with modern thermal performance.

Traditionally, all Victorian sash windows were single glazed, but today, the majority have been replaced with double glazing. Even double glazing for listed properties has seen a breakthrough in recent years, where owners can opt to retrofit vacuum insulated glass into their exiting/original frames thanks to the amazing triple glazed thermal capabilities it performs at whilst retaining the thickness of single glazing. It if fast becoming a premium glazing solution for listed and conservation properties that is loved by both property owners and planning officers alike.


How are modern Victorian windows created?

As we have already established, modern glazing methods allow us to manufacture one big sheet of glass rather than lots of smaller panes held together with timber bars. However, to retain the traditional Victorian appearance (which is important to period homeowners, and often a legality for owners of listed and conservation properties), we can still incorporate bars into the window design to create the illusion of smaller panes. There are a couple of ways to achieve this: either with real-dividing bars or Astragal bars (at Parsons Joinery we refer to these as Applied bars). Both methods divide up larger, more efficient windows to give a traditional appearance, but they have a slightly different method.

Astragal (Applied) bars describes timber bars that are planted on to the window glazing from both the inside and the outside of the pane to create the illusion of smaller panes, when in fact there is just one big pane of glass used.

Real-dividing bars is where the windows are made up of separate panes of glass with the timber bars visible on both the inside and outside of the sashes and run throughout the whole sash.

UPVC window suppliers have their own version of this whereby they add bars to the double-glazing, and they are sealed within the window unit – no bars are tangible on the outside of the actual glass itself. While uPVC window suppliers can create the illusion of real-dividing bars from a distance, they do not replicate the traditional timber dividing bar design as accurately as real-dividing timber bars and uPVC is likely to be approved by planning if you own a listed or conservation property.

As professional joiners, traditional timber windows are our speciality. We can fit either timber real-dividing bars or applied bars into modern double-glazed units (windows and doors) when completely replacing the timber sash windows of a Victorian property.

It is worth considering real-dividing bars vs Astragal (Applied) bars when planning a window renovation project.  Whilst we are able to offer both types of glazing bar design, 99% of our projects request the applied bar option as standard. This is because real-dividing glazing bars need to be much wider so they will not look the same as the traditional windows.

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Stained glass in modern Victorian windows

Stained glass can also be replicated within modern Victorian windows. At Parsons Joinery, we can either design a completely new window and new stained-glass design, or we can replicate your existing design. We can also go one step further and replace all single glazed sash windows with double glazed sashes whilst retaining the original stained glass. This case study written by our sister company Wandsworth Sash Windows, is a great example of a complete sash replacement, retaining the original stained glass.

Weatherproofing and durability of Victorian sash windows

The impressive performance of double-glazed timber sash windows crafted by Parsons Joinery, spans far beyond just thermal retention, beautiful aesthetics, and authenticity. By choosing traditional wooden sash windows, you get durability and weather protection in abundance. Our bespoke made products and timber come from FSC or PEFC certified forests. So, if your windows are made and installed by us, you can rest assure that the wood used to create your products is of exceptional quality, sustainable and good for the environment. We make all our windows and doors bespoke for every customer in our workshop in Sussex ensuring custom, precise, quality fit and finish.

We select the appropriate wood type for each project and fully treat all products, to ensure our windows and doors (if well cared for) remain robust and durable, in all elements, for decades for come. This is reflected in our 30-year guaranteed period against rot on all timber products.

Victorian window shutters

Victorian windows were often adorned with elaborate curtains, drapes, or lace coverings, which added to the overall aesthetic and provided privacy. Like the present day, interior window shutters are a popular window treatment for Victorian style windows. They serve as both a practical and decorative element in Victorian homes offering light control, privacy, and insulation.

Slimmer slats (louvres) can help create a more traditional look and wooden shutters can either be divided into separate panels or have a solid design depending on the look you want to create. A wide variety of paints and stains will ensure shutters complement the interior décor of a room too.

Adjustable louvres allow residents to regulate the amount of natural light and airflow entering a room while maintaining privacy. By adjusting the position of the louvres, occupants could also control the direction of light and the view outside.

During Victorian times, interior shutters were considered a decorative window dressing. They added a touch of elegance and sophistication to the interiors, complementing the overall Victorian aesthetic. The shutters could be adorned with intricate woodwork or decorative elements, enhancing the visual appeal of the windows and the room as a whole.

Victorian bay window shutters

Victorian bay window shutters

Today, interior shutters can be crafted in a wide range of styles, shapes, sizes, and configurations, making them a much loved, energy efficient window dressing solution. Victorian bay windows can be notoriously hard to dress due to their large expanse and awkward shape. However, bespoke made shutters can be made for any size or shaped window and would contribute to reducing heat loss in the summer by providing an extra barrier. Likewise, during the summer months, shutters work well at keeping cool air trapped in a room and keeping warm air out.

Victorian architecture in London

The Victorian era spans the period of Queen Victoria’s reign, from 1837 to 1901. During that time we witnessed significant architecture and interior design progression with several distinct styles prevalent during the Victorian period that were revivals of previous designs: Gothic, Italianate, Romanesque, Renaissance, Queen Anne, and Neoclassical.

There are so many Victorian buildings in and around London that should be highlighted, but here are some of our favourite famous Victorian buildings still standing in London:


Buckingham Palace

We might as well start with the building most connected to Queen Victoria herself, Buckingham Palace. Whilst it was primarily constructed during the Georgian reign, the East Wind qualifies since it was commissioned by Victoria herself to support her and Prince Albert’s growing family.  It was kept in the Neoclassical style to mirror the rest of the palace.


King’s Cross Station

Opened in 1852 as the terminus of the Great Western Railway, Kings’ cross is designed in an Italianate style, one of the most obvious elements being the station’s clock tower. The double-arched roof that covers many of the platforms is an excellent example of the steel and glass work that were used extensively during the era.


The Royal Albert Hall

Another notable example of Italianate architecture in London is the Royal Albert Hall. The world’s first domed amphitheatre. Opened in 1871 to honour Prince Albert, the dome’s impressive glass and wrought-iron structure is freestanding and the hall itself boasts a mosaic panel some 800-feet long that wraps the building.


St Pancras Station

Built in the Gothic Revival style from red brick, St Pancras Station is a stunning site with its single span trainshed roof that was the largest cast-iron and glass structure of its type at the time.


The Natural History Museum

So many visitors frequent the Museum of History ever year, and with all the impressive artifacts inside often mean the outside gets overlooked! The building is a wonder in itself and mixes the Gothic Revival style with Romanesque architecture and appropriately for the building, incorporated designs were inspired by living and extinct species.

If you are looking to make some home improvements and are inspired by Victorian architecture and design, we would love to help you create (or recreate) authentic and beautiful Victorian sash windows that are perfectly suited to your property and style. Whether you require double-glazed sash windows or wooden doors we can supply and fit cost-effective window and door units with real-dividing or applied bars crafted with an outstanding level of workmanship.