Glass was found in several of the test pits dug in the village in 2013, but none of it was specifically identified as window glass.
Romans had glass in windows and it was then re-introduced in 1180, but was very expensive. Around the late 13th century the middle classes began to acquire glass but it did not become common until the late 16th century. A popular style was mullioned which joined multiple small pieces of glass in a lead lattice. As it was so expensive window glass was designed to be transportable when one moved house. Poorer people used thin strips of horn or linen soaked in tallow or resin which were translucent (but flammable) and even cattle placenta.
The listed building data includes the following types of windows in Meldreth:
- oriel: a bay window that projects from the main wall of a building but does not reach to the ground: 47 High Street
- casement: these open like doors
- fixed light: these can’t be opened
- sash: this is a traditional style of window in the United Kingdom with two parts that overlap slightly and slide up and down inside the frame (some older forms only have one part that moves)
- dormer: this would be on the first floor, often introduced in cottages when the main room was split and an upper floor added.
Examples of some of these window types can be seen in the photographs above.
Manting House in North End (pictured) has louvred shutters on some windows.
In 1696 a “window” tax was introduced which continued until 1851 (with some changes in the method of calculation). This was a property tax which involved an extra tax, over the flat house rate tax, for the number of windows above ten. This was an attempt to introduce a tax related to the prosperity of the owner. For ten to twenty windows the tax was equivalent to £24.21 per year in 2014.
Some owners therefore bricked up some windows, although I am not aware of any examples in Meldreth.
In addition a tax on glass at the point of sale was introduced in 1746 lasting until 1845.
After the 1840s sheet glass was mass produced and was of better quality and cheaper and so became more extensively used.