Two of our townhouses have a highly unusual feature of blinded windows, where the original window awning built in circa. 1825, was not glazed but intentionally bricked across.
This ‘blinded window’ architectural style developed in response to an earlier need to reduce the amount of ‘window tax’ payable. The more windows a house had, the greater the tax due. A former Prime Minster, Pitt the Younger, had tripled this window tax in 1797 to fund the Napoleonic wars.
This tax hike led to large numbers of windows in houses across the country being ‘bricked up’, so as to reduce the amount of tax due. This practice became so widespread that it eventually established its own architectural style, which was in vogue at the time Winckley Square Residences were constructed, and hence reflected in the original design of our townhouses.
The window tax was abolished in 1851, following increasingly vociferous protests, including from the famous author Charles Dickens himself, who memorably stated ‘neither air not light have been free since the imposition of the window tax’. The ‘blinded window’ feature, alongside the entire Georgian architectural style had by then been entirely subsumed into the newer trends of the Victorian period.
Our ‘blinded windows’, one of Preston’s few surviving examples, now serve as a fascinating reminder of not only the legacy of the Napoleonic wars, and the Georgian era prevalent in the early part of the Industrial Revolution, but also of the drastic measures people take to reduce their tax bills!
You can learn more about the history of window tax at Winckley Square here.