A Brief History of Glass Windows

Compared to what we use nowadays with our eco-friendly, energy efficient windows, the ‘windows’ of old have been extremely basic.

Windows: The Beginning

This may not come as a surprise to you but windows, back in the day were just holes in the wall. Think about it, people didn’t have glass hundreds and thousands of years ago to cover their holes with.

The first kind of covering came when people decided to use animal hides to keep themselves protected from the elements. It then moved onto various kinds of cloth and wood. The next thing to come along was shutters that could be opened and closed. The importance of keeping people sheltered from the elements and letting light in quickly became of the highest importance.

Mullioned glass windows, windows that were made up of small piece of glass and pieced together with lead, quickly became the most widely used kind of window.

There was other kinds of window used though. Things like flattened pieces of translucent animal horn and plates of thinly sliced marble and in the Far East they even used paper to fill windows.

Glass Windows

It’s believed that the Romans were the first known to use glass for windows. This is something that was most probably first produced in Roman Egypt in Alexandria ca. 100 AD. It was around this time that cast glass windows with rather poor optical properties started to appear. They were nothing more than blown glass which had been flattened out.

After these windows started to appear it would be over a millennium before glass windows would be transparent enough for people to see through clearly, like how our windows are nowadays.

In England, glass was quickly used as the common form of windows in people’s homes in the early 17th century whereas windows made up of various, smaller panes of glass and things like flattened animal horn were used as early as the 14th century.

It’s said that the increase in the use of glazed windows and the general increase in the production of windows is one of the major factors contributing to the deforestation of Great Britain in the late 1500s. Another factor that is thought to have played a hand in this is something not related to windows at all, but the production of iron cannons is also thought to have had a part to play in this.

Modern Windows

There’s a number of different kinds of windows now available. From single and double glazing windows to the new, eco-friendly triple glazed windows which you can buy to make your house as ‘green’ as possible.

The modern style of windows was only made possible after the industrial plate glass making processes were perfected. Now, modern windows are usually filled with glass although there are also a lot out there that are transparent plastic.

There are now well over ten different types of window available for people to buy and fit in their homes.

If you want some new windows fitting in your home, why not check out our double glazing window offering. Or if you’d like to know any more about any of our other products, why not contact us online and request a call back.


We invite you to join us at our showroom in York, to browse our many products in person and speak with our team of advisors and designers about your next home improvement project.


Want to speak with an Advisor? Give us a call on 01904 690881

Our friendly team will be pleased to help with any questions you may have.

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