26 January 2015

(c) Arts Council Collection; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Inspired by last month’s Forum (soon to be renamed the Persephone Perspective by the way) this week on the Post – windows. The direct inspiration was the way the final image for the Forum write-up of There Were No Windows was of – windows, but they are bricked up. Here is the explanation: ‘William III was in a financial crisis in 1696 due to the wars with Ireland and on the continent. One new idea that was brought in to help pay for the debt was the unpopular window tax. The tax was payable on houses of more than six windows, so the clever tax-dodgers simply got hold of a builder to brick up the other windows. Houses with nine windows would pay 2/- (10p) and ten to nineteen windows the cost was 4/- (20p). In 1851 the window tax was scrapped and a new tax called house duty a forerunner to community charge became payable.’ The mystery is why homeowners didn’t put back the windows after 1851. Obviously they often did but even today you can see Georgian and Victorian  houses with bricked up windows. And of course the image at the end of the Forum piece was symbolic – there were no windows any more. This painting is by Charles Ginner, it’s 1943 and t’s called Spring Day at Boscastle. (The war was raging in Europe but ‘somewhere in England’  people were reading books and putting daffodils in jugs and looking peacefully out of the window.)