Balanced or Lifting Shutters


The cords had broken on these shutters, and I could not locate the pockets to access the weights in order to re-cord them. I had to refer to a publication by George Ellis titled ‘Modern Practical Joinery’, printed in 1902, for the answer. As you can see, the pockets had been cleverly hidden behind the panel which I found surprising as I could just at a push get my arm into the cavity. Perhaps in those days arms were not so big, or this kind of work was undertaken by an apprentice with slender arms.

What I didn’t want to do was to take off the front panel to access these pockets; it’s been fixed in place since the 1850s. The windows are the original, fitted in 1796, but the balance shutters are a later addition. This was established by the presence of the original skirting board inside the shutter case. Also, the building was once owned by the Church and had a reliable record of works carried out over the last  two centuries.

Sometimes the pocket sits near the top of the frame, about 18” down from the pully wheels, which I now understand became the practice during the early part of the 20th Century.

Whilst doing this work it occurred to me what a fantastic way to eliminate drafts, light and noise. Those late Georgian / early Victorian designers really did think of everything, and the skill employed by the carpenters and joiners, with limited rudimentary  machinery, I can only admire and take my hat off to.

I am hoping that one day I will get an enquiry asking how can I eliminate drafts, light and noise with box sash windows fitted, as I would relish the opportunity to manufacture and fit a 21stcentury copy of such a practical solution to an age old problem.


There are modern day solutions that can be employed to reduce considerably the draft and noise problem associated with box sash windows, and these are covered in previous work and articles on this web site. I am happy to undertake such work but the elegance of balance or lifting shutters cannot be matched.

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