The history of shutters

Today shutters are known for the classic style they add to homes, while offering privacy, security, light and ventilation control. But if the legend is true, the moveable function of louvres was first used by a royal ‘peeping Tom.’

King Louis XIV of France was said to have had louvered shutters installed around the garden walls of the Court in the 17th century. Apparently King Louis XIV liked to admire the women who bathed in the ponds within his gardens but noticed the women distracted the court guards. The shutter louvres allowed him to view the women at his leisure, without distracting the guards. If this is true, the term ‘louvre’ was named after Louis’ previous dwelling, the Louvre.

The 1838 Peter Augustus Jay House

The 1838 Peter Augustus Jay House in the Boston Post Road Historic District (US) has colonial or traditional style shutters. Image credit: Jay Heritage Centre

Legends aside, the history of shutters is believed to have started in Greece where marble shutters with fixed louvres helped to control the light and minimise the Mediterranean heat while allowing ventilation. Eventually wood replaced marble and made moveable louvre shutters possible.

The concept of Security Shutters as we know them today was first seen in medieval Europe when solid shutters were closed with an iron bar for protection against possible attacks. Shutters were used before glass and it was only during the Tudor period (1485–1603) and Elizabethan era (1558–1603) when glass was introduced. But because glass was so expensive, it was only used on the upper half of the window with solid shutters in the lower half.

Since the late 15th century, Europeans, particularly the British, Spanish and French, had been exploring Central America, the Caribbean and North America, and in the 18th century shutters were introduced to the ‘New World’. During this time, people in Britain saw ornate shutters as part of the home décor but it was the practical features of shutters as recognised by the Spanish and French colonisers, that made shutters popular in the New World.

White painted shutters kept mansions in the cotton plantations of the South cool, hence the common term most widely used today ‘plantation shutters.’ Narrower louvre shutters originating from England, were popular in New England (the north east region of North America) and are known as traditional or colonial shutters. In coastal areas known for hurricanes, shutters were often referred to as ‘hurricane shutters’ because they helped protect windows and homes from these tropical storms.

Throughout the various eras, shutters have evolved alongside architecture. Today shutters add both functional and aesthetic value to a home, whether it’s a cottage style country home or a sleek modern apartment.

history-of-shutters

AMERICAN shutters® brought the beauty of shutters to South Africa over 30 years ago, and has been installing adjustable wooden shutters and aluminium security shutters in homes and commercial properties throughout South Africa ever since.

Sources: Allaboutshutters.com, Answers.com, Thehistoryof.net


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One response to “The history of shutters”

  1. Tug says:

    We recently had american shutters fitted in our dining room. The house we live in is over 30 years old and they have definitely modernized it and give a fresh new feeling. The “Lady of the House” is now making noises about wanting them everywhere in the house and I must confess that I am on the point of succumbing as they really do look excellent, and are much more practical than curtains.
    I just hope my bank manager will understand!!

    Tug Wilson

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