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Preservation FAQ: Is the Window Glass at Drayton Hall Original?

Preservation, Research

In celebration of Preservation Month, we are posting a series of preservation-related frequently asked questions. Do you have a question for our preservation department? Please comment below and your question could be featured in a future blog post!

DSC_1112Is the window glass at Drayton Hall original? In a word—no—none of it is original. Changes in window forms during the 18th and 19th century coupled with evidence of glass loss indicate that none of the glass is original, and only half of it is potentially historic. The most definitive reason that the window glass cannot be original to Drayton Hall is that the current sashes are from the 19th century. There are several clues that tell us this, including that the muntin profiles are much more delicate than is typical of a Georgian muntin, which tends to be very wide and flat.

So, we’ve established that the glass is not original, but is any of it historic? We know from archival evidence that much of Drayton Hall’s window glass was replaced after Hurricane Hugo in 1989. Additionally, DSC_1105there are large quantities of window glass that have been found during archaeological excavations, and our architectural fragment collection contains nearly 100 broken panes. If you walk around th
e house, you will see that approximately half of the panes appear to be new, while the rest have imperfections that would seem to indicate that they are older. The trouble with these observations is that they can be misleading. While we now make it a point to replace broken panes with clearly new glass in order to avoid confusion about what is new and what is old, this has not always been our practice. Until recently, it was not uncommon for broken panes to be replaced with new glass made to look old.

By the numbers, 51% of Drayton Hall’s window panes appear to be older, although many of them may be reproductions of historic glass. So, it’s hard to definitively say how much of the glass is historic. What is certain, however, is that none of the glass is original to the house.