Glemhall Hall, facades and taxes #atozchallenge

Glemham Hall features a characteristic Georgian façade constructed in front of an old Tudor hall, which once would have a been a grand example of early renaissance architecture. This ‘covering’ up of the old frontage is quite common for England’s Medieval buildings and the give away is the bottom of the roof doesn’t meet the frontage; it sits behind it. These stone or brick walls give a robust appearance to an often wonky house built out of timber.

Another feature of Georgian style is the square windows uniformly arranged in a grid. This was also an attempt to reduce the window tax.  During Georgian times, the number of windows the property possessed was used as a measure of how much tax the occupants had to pay. Poor people living in cottages had fewer windows. As a result, it was common to brick up the windows of wealthy homeowners in order to reduce payments.

Georgians were inventive with their ideas for taxes. Previous tax initiatives included:

The brick tax introduced in 1784 to pay for wars in the American Colonies – 4 shillings per thousand bricks. In reply, bricks got bigger, so the government changed the rules about brick sizes and enforced smaller ones. Industries, who built the largest buildings, failed as a consequence and the tax was scrapped in 1850.

In 1709 candles (beeswax) were taxed. This impacted the poor greatly who couldn’t afford large glass windows in their homes. To make life harsher, making candles in the home was forbidden. People resorted to dipping rushes in animal fat and lighting them at both ends – tax free. Hence the expression “burning the candle at both ends.”

Clock tax of 1797 lasted nine months. Why? It cost five shillings for every clock in a private home, plus ten shillings for gold ones, and since it was the rich who had clocks, not the poor, it didn’t go down very well.

The gin tax in 18th century London caused riots; the government was actually trying to decrease laziness and crime. Although not withdrawn, the tax was greatly reduced.

There were also taxes on hats, playing cards, soap and medicine. Even pre-printed wallpaper was taxed – a penny for a square yard. Ingenious people bought plain paper (untaxed) and stencilled it. None of these impacted the home as much as the window tax. To this day, you can spot bricked up windows.  Although, I do think Amsterdam’s tax on the width of houses probably tops the league for architecture determined by taxes.

 

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15 comments

  1. Glasgow has so many of these bricked up windows in its Georgian architecture.
    https://iainkellywriting.com/2018/04/07/g-is-for-glasgow-great-britain/

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    1. The fact they still are visible goes to show the impact the tax must have had on home owners. Thanks for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Antoinette Truglio Martin · · Reply

    Funny how a tax that targets the rich is abolished and even after public outcry, a gin tax that was probably for the poor is just reduced. Some things do not change.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The poor have always had to resorted the extreme measures to be heard, the rich just seem to know the right people to get things changed. Nothing much has changed. Thanks for the comment.

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  3. I just read that in one case the illness in a large home that had boarded up their windows, they became so ill that 52 people died as a result. This is totally fascinating! Thank you for sharing.

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    1. I’d not thought about that, but true, the consequences of not having natural light or ventilation must have gone beyond a lack of fresh air to serious illnesses. Thanks for the comment.

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  4. I would have hated that window tax. our whole south wall is windows and those are the only windows in the house.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Given how many houses have sheets of glass rather than window panes, I’m not sure how they would count ‘windows’ these days. Thankfully, we have don’t have that tax any longer.

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  5. All those taxes were harsh, but a gin tax? I’d riot. Terrible!

    My Friend Rosey – G is for Grannie

    Liked by 2 people

    1. A tax too far when they took on gin!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Our modern governments would never make up such silly taxes! 😉 Poll Tax anyone? I do love the look of Georgian properties, there is something regal about them.
    Tasha
    Tasha’s Thinkings – Movie Monsters

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One would hope that the days of silly taxes have long gone, but obviously not.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Bricked up windows and burning the candle at both ends — you learn something every day, especially reading this blog! 😀 Great post.
    Jamie Lyn Weigt | Theme: Odds and Ends Dragons | Writing Dragons

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  8. Fantastic post! Never knew of anythign about those odd taxes. History is really weird 😉

    Sorry I’m so behind in reading blogs. this year challange has been particularly hard for me, due to hectic work schedules. But I’m catching up… although slowly.

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    1. It’s been hard to keep up this year. I’ll probably catch up when it’s all over. Nearly there!

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