Daylight Robbery

Can you imagine living in a world where you were forced to reduce the number of windows you had in your home? Imagine being plunged into gloom, missing out on those lovely views and not being able to let the sunshine in. This is exactly what happened in England in 1696 when the government imposed a Window Tax. Here is how it happened:

During the reign of William III, the clipping of coinage became a real problem. This was the practice of cutting small pieces from coins. Then coins were made from pure gold and silver and suffered from wear and tear. It was commonplace to have a coin that was not perfectly round in shape. Due to this, filing or cutting off small pieces might at first go unnoticed. People would then melt down these pieces into a bar and sell them to a goldsmith or use it to make fake coinage. It was a serious offence and considered high treason and punishable by the death penalty.

Due to the losses from coin clipping, the tax was introduced to make up some of the lost revenue. It was based on how many windows a property contained. Similar to today’s council tax, it was a banded system of taxation. By the mid-18th century, a house with 10-14 windows was charged 6d. for each window. The lowest band started at 6 windows, which was increased to 8 windows in 1825. The tax was raised 6 times between 1747 and 1808 alone! Thankfully, we can all enjoy as many windows as we want today. For Double Glazing Company Evesham, visit https://www.firmfix.co.uk/doors/

It was a simple tax to collect for the government, as the inspectors could clearly see how many windows a property had from the street outside. Have you ever noticed that many older properties appear to have windows that were once bricked up? That was a direct result of the Window Tax. By the early 18th century, revenue from the tax was already in decline due to the number of windows being bricked up to avoid additional taxation. Any new properties being constructed were also installing less windows. All this impacted the glass production industry too.

Issues began to be raised from members of the medical profession as the Industrial Revolution took hold and urban areas became critically overcrowded. Epidemics and the spread of disease became a spectre in this areas and doctors argued that a lack of windows led to damp, dark environments that caused poor health and did nothing to ease the spread of infectious illnesses.

Thankfully, after some years of campaigning from doctors and forward-thinking individuals, the Act was repealed in 1851. Of course, when the government loses one stream of revenue, it quickly finds another, and the Window Tax was replaced by a House Tax. At least we could all go back to letting the fresh air and sunshine in again!

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