Window Restoration Specialists
Traditional Leaded Lights
Why are they called leadlights?
Before the 16th Century windows or apertures had unglazed openings, typically sliding or folding shutters were used instead - made out of wood, horn, oiled cloth or similar.
The earliest glazed windows first appeared in prominent buildings or in wealthy families. They used very small pieces of glass (quarrels or quarries) held together with soft lead strips (cames). In order to make a large window therefore the space was subdivided by stone or timber mullions so the small leaded panels - or “lights” - could be installed either fixed or opening.
Hence the name leadlights was created, often abbreviated to “lights”. Stained glass is often nowadays grouped with leaded lights in terms of speciality, primarily due to similar methods of construction. However stained glass requires a more artistic skill set and process.
Window Restoration or Replacement?
This is the main dilemma people have when they have problems with distorted or broken leaded lights, leading to water damage and/ or extreme draughts.
The problem with leaded windows is that unless the damage is slight or localised it is not something that can be easily repaired by an average DIY enthusiast. However a specialist glazier can temporary glaze and re-lead the whole panel, as new.
If your property Grade I or II (and II*) listed then repairs on-site or in a workshop are the only viable alternative normally. In this scenario draughts are solved using Secondary Glazing - which has added benefits such as extra security and significant noise reduction.
Where replacement is an option there are a few modern alternatives such as aluminium windows, double glazed timber or even uPVC windows. However like all things there are caveats. The two main considerations are cost and visual appeal. But the biggest issue is appearance. Double glazing with stick on lead just cannot replicate the unique shimmering effect and vitality of a traditional leaded light.
Our advice would be to do a lot of research, talk to friends or people who have similar property and view examples or samples. Or try specialist workshops like Craft Glass who only deal with leaded panels as a business.
What type of glass should be used?
Modern glass production is focussed on supply of a perfect, blemish free product. Which has meant a decline in the supply of “antique glass”, produced by the traditional mouth-blown method.
The art of making antique “muff” or “cylinder glass” is still practised by one company in the UK but the majority is sourced from a small number of firms in Europe.