Hampstead is best known for its tree-lined streets, picturesque Heath and wealth of historic properties.
Among the chief reasons why Hampstead was designated as a Conservation Area in 1968 is the large number of listed buildings of architectural interest in the area and their relationship with former residents and Hampstead village as a whole. Since that time there have been a number of extensions to the Conservation Area’s boundaries.
Timber Windows and Hampstead Architecture – Brief History
Hampstead has drawn numerous people to its suburbs from the early 17th Century onwards. In the early days they were lured by its elevated position close to London – sitting on sand and pebble-capped hills it reaches as high as 135m above sea level – and the lack of landed aristocracy taking up residence in the area.
Between 1746 and 1801, Hampstead’s population grew substantially rising more than three-fold from 1,400 to 4,300 residents.
From the mid-1800s onwards transport developments such as the North London Railway (1860) and the Metropolitan line extension to Finchley Road, West Hampstead and Kilburn (1879) aided Hampstead’s population in growing even further, with this figure rising from 45,000 in 1881 and 82,000 in 1901. The size of homes in the area also seemed to grow in line with the rising population with a number of large homes being constructed both within the village and the areas surrounding it by the early 19th Century.
The ‘Town Improvement Scheme’ of the 1880s resulted in a number of smart, period homes appearing across Hampstead.
Timber sash windows took pride of place in many of these Georgian and Victorian era homes including the two-storey brick cottages on Back Lane (NW3). Back Lane’s Georgian cottages and villas continue to enthrall the public today with many boasting restored sash windows.
Timber Windows Hampstead, London
Traditional sash windows in Hampstead’s historic homes feature a number of design characteristics particular to that era. As an example the mid-19th century semi-detached villas in Cannon Place (NW3) featured tripartite sash windows, which came to prominence in the latter part of the 19th Century, often made up of a central sash and two side lights.
Many of the Victorian family homes on Cannon Place have retained their original brown-brick exterior and sash windows, while their interiors have been given a makeover worthy of the 21st Century.
The terraces on Denning road (NW3) featured sash windows with multi-panes, characteristic of early sash windows from the mid 1800s.
Sash windows with multi-lights on some upper panes featured in the semi-detached homes on Heath Hurst Road (NW3) and were constructed in 1900. These are also known as divided light windows and here sash bars, glazing bars or muntins – strips of metal or wood – divide a single window sash into small panes of light in a grid system.
Restored Windows Hampstead, London
Sash windows with smaller panes gained prominence prior to the mid-19th Century, as they were more economical to produce and considered to be more visually appealing. However, after this point they were generally replaced in favour of plate glass and large panes. The restoration of sash and casement windows from the 20th Century onwards focused on reinstating this very feature in an attempt to pay homage to the UK’s architectural history.
Timber Windows in Hampstead (NW3) today
As we have already seen, Hampstead’s architecture continues to be a reflection of the area’s past and its status as a Conservation area has a large part to play in this fact. English Heritage’s FAQ leaflet on Conservation Areas outlines that windows ‘should not generally be altered in their proportions or details’ but rather that steps should be taken to restore them such as ‘closing gaps around casements and sashes’.
This is why the Hampstead boasts countless examples of architectural heritage from the 17th Century onwards. Wherever you go in Hampstead you will be able to see traditional architectural features, including sash windows on a number of period properties.
Ultimately, Hampstead offers a window into one of the finest examples of preserved Georgian and Victorian architecture in London and period property fans will be completely in their element here.