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Allford's column is not a true window on history

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Simon Allford's column (AJ 3.2.05) incorrectly attributes the recession of windows as a fire precaution to the post-Fire 1667 Building Act. Even the Act of 1707 just prohibited timber eaves cornices, leading to the triumph of the parapet wall and the evils of parapet gutters.

Not until the 1709 Building Act were windows required to be set a brick's width, 4 inches, back from the face of the wall.

The 1774 Act further required that the sash boxes should be recessed behind the reveals.

Neither of these conditions is an absolute date indicator. The 1709 Act was not immediately complied with universally and there are windows in pre-1774 buildings which have been modernised in accordance with it, probably more as a fashion statement than for safety reasons.

Alasdair Glass , English Heritage

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