Shutters – Chiseled Evidence

I noticed all the windows on the front and sides of the house had, on each side of the window casing, evidence of chiseled areas where hinges once were installed. I love shutters so I was excited to find the evidence of them here. I don’t know when they were installed – yet. The design element will be just perfect! Shutters came before glass windows 500 years ago. These were made of solid wooden boards. They were a little odd by today’s standards, as they were designed to only cover the lower half of the window opening. Glass was a luxury, hard to get and relatively expensive, so usually only the upper part of the opening would have a glass pane. The shutter would be opened to let in light and air when needed. It was a simple task of folding the panel against the inside wall. It wasn’t till the 1700’s that people began to install two glass windows in the opening, double hung like the Federation style we are familiar with. With this improvement shutters grew to cover the full height of the opening. Up to this time most buildings were made of stone or masonry, with very thick walls. So it’s not surprising that it was common practice to have the shutters on the inside, as the window opening was too deep to reach out and secure or unlatch the panel from inside the room.During the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901) more and more houses were built from timber or with techniques that resulted in thinner walls. So now that people could reach the latches, they began to attach their shutters to the outside. As time passed, shutters were increasingly used as much for visual effect as for their practical functions – shelter from the elements and protection for the glass. With the invention of the steam engine and the rapid industrialization of society, mechanization entered Victorian woodworking mills. This revolution brought a higher level of sophistication and features to shutters. So instead of just blocking out the light and heat, shutter blades were often louvered or made of narrow horizontal slats angled to deflect rain and to allow some daylight through while providing adequate ventilation. What an exciting discovery! Now I can just picture them and I can’t wait to put the shutters back on the windows!


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