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Federation Windows

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Windows of Federation houses

  • were larger than those of preceding eras because large glass panes were cheaper

  • are timber framed and either side hinged (casement style) or double hung sashes

  • The front windows often feature Casement windows with leaded lights ('leadlight')

  • which used at least colour glass panels or decorative leadlight (with some stained glass)

  • Australiana was sometimes the subject of leadlight glass windows, but were usually an Art Nouveau design, produced by a local window maker (Plea: we need research and scholarly studies of these leadlight designs, since very little exist).
























Above Left: Bullseye window in Rosebery NSW, note fixed transom window over front door

Above Right: Unusual Leadlight Transom Windows in Rosebery, opening as an 'awning window' (outwards on hinges at the top edge)

Five characteristic types of Federation Windows

  1. Bay windows were popular, providing perhaps a well-lit nook, or window seat internally. Most bay windows were placed in the front room, usually a master bedroom.

    See Federation Bay Windows

Awning windows were used for ventilation and privacy (see picture above)

Transom windows (US) or Fanlight windows (UK) are the windows above a door or fixed windows above the opening casement or sash windows

Bullseye windows are a particular feature of Federation houses. These don't have to be circular, can be semi-circular or even tear-shaped.
A bullseye window is a circular feature and is often used in a central and high position at the front of a property, or centrally on a gable end. Any of our cast stone bullseye window surrounds designs provide an eye catching addition to residential properties.

Porch windows: patterned glass walls made of panels of coloured glass, to screen the front verandah from side view


Federation Window Shapes

The range of Federation Windows includes such shapes as:


Bulls-eye (round)


Angled or round Bay, Bow Windows and Oriels

Plain old Rectangular windows (Casement or Sash)

Gothic influence on Federation Windows
​Earlier Federation Windows were influenced by Gothic themed multicoloured and textured square glass panes:

The Gothic Revival (also referred to as Victorian Gothic or neo-Gothic) is an architectural movement that began in the late 1740s in England.

Its popularity grew rapidly in the early 19th century, and draws features from the original Gothic style, including decorative patterns, finials, lancet windows, hood moulds and label stops.

Gothic Glass paned window sets


Above: This Randwick NSW house has Gothic coloured glass panes in the upper transom windows, and even in the upper casement windows, which are also filled with leadlight Art Nouveau glazing

The effect of the stained glass on illumination then produced 'consecrated light' to influence the soul,

In domestic architecture, stained glass now serves mainly as a practical and pretty expedient for places where daylight is wanted, but not a view, or where prettiness is an end in itself. [1

Above: Inside the Chartres Cathedral, France


Small coloured glass panels in the upper window transoms are typical Federation features. They are a result of the Gothic Revival in England in the nineteenth century, promoted by A. W. N. Pugin, John Ruskin, and the Pre-Raphaelites.

Left: Gothic coloured glass panes in sash windows of a Ranwick Federation home.

Below: Large gothic coloured glass panes decorate verandahs in Randwick and Haberfield, NSW

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Circular Windows
Left: A Medieval Rose window, Right: Federation Bulls-eye windows​

  • Leadlight glass





















Above: Haberfield leadlight door and windows


Leadlight entrance halls were a common feature of the Federation period

  • Ornately patterned Leadlight windows were made in casement style, which open out along the vertical axis.

  • These Lead Light windows were hand made by skilled craftsmen

  • Styles could range from floral with Art Nouveau influences to a simple geometric pattern.

  • Also popular were simple groupings of 3 or 4 casement windows in a single line.

  • Federation Casement sets often included Transom lights, the smaller window above the main casement.

  • These Transom lights were very often fitted with coloured moulded patterned glass. - Terrace House Factory


What is a leadlight panel ?

A leadlight panel is comprised of a design of glass pieces held together in a framework of lead came. Leadlight is made using either clear or coloured glass, which can be flat or of various textures. Leadlight is thought to have come into being in Roman times, when only very small pieces of glass could be produced; the process of using metal bars to hold the glass pieces together enabled a larger area to be covered, for example in a window opening.

When some of the glass pieces are hand painted and fired in a kiln, then it is called stained glass, even though the leading process holding the pieces of glass together is the same. However larger pieces of painted glass tend to occur in stained glass, where definition can be provided by light and shade in the painting process.

This is not the case in leadlight, where each individual shape needs to be defined by lead. The process of leadlighting involves first drawing a pattern, called a cartoon; then individual glass pieces are cut from this cartoon, and leaded together. Each lead join is soldered, to hold the framework together. The panel is puttied to give it strength and to make it weatherproof ; cleaned ; and often the lead is blackened to give a uniform finish to the lead and solder joins.

What makes a well-constructed leadlight panel ?
A well constructed leadlight panel should be firm to the touch, and should not rattle. Lead lines and joins are smooth, and there are no ragged glass edges visible under the edges of the lead, nor any chips out of the glass along the lead lines. The solder joins should be smooth and flat, not lumpy and not particularly noticeable. Straight lines should be straight, and circular and oval shapes even. The panel should be fully puttied to make it weatherproof and strong.

Prior to World War I, in domestic architecture, the front entrance remained the focus for decorative leadlighting. It was also commonly used for stair-well windows.

Coloured glass sash windows


Plain Transom windows


Art Deco (interwar) Casement Windows


Coloured Transom windows


Coloured Patterned Glass Verandah window

Rosebery Casements


Randwick side windows


Federation leadlight designs express Australian's Edwardian sentiments.

  • They contain symbols of Empire and Dominion such as roses, lilies, thistles, as well as waratahs, flannel flowers, and other indigenous flora and fauna.

  • With the emergence of Australian Nationalism, kookaburras, currawongs and the occasional larrikin cockatoo quickly displaced the delicately painted robins, finches and similar European birds and flowers most often seen in Victorian windows.

//Read more//


[1] The New Yorker May 12, 2008 Issue
Many-Colored Glass

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