• James Sunderland

Leaded lights and stained glass designs through the periods

This post will be a somewhat potted history and overview of the popular styles of leaded lights in residential properties starting in the Victorian period.


There are two main styles of victorian leaded light designs, Geometric and Floral (as well as a mix of both). A lot of the geometric influence came from Morocco, you can see this also in Victorian homes that have mosaic tiled floors.

The "classic" victorian style would be a small grid section (with pale colours e.g tints), a double border featuring a figured clear glass outer with a slim bolder colour as the inner border (usually red). The motifs would be geometric, such as diamonds and circles. Usually with main focal point in the centre which could typically have a floral element.

There are also Victorian designs which have floral motifs and occasionally ornate hand painted pieces. Which would be the correct definition of stained glass.


Designs started to get less geometric at this time time and more floral, stylised roses being the most common. The backgrounds were more commonly clear textured (which is called "white" in glass terms) as apposed to the tinted colour backgrounds used more in the Victorian era. This creates contrast between the bold colours in the flowers and leafs.


Floral styles were still popular during the 1920's, however roses became more square shaped. Heraldic and wreath motifs also started to appear.


The 1930's is mainly known for Art Deco. However floral styles were still popular during this time. The main difference is that designs started to become a lot more simple. This is mostly due to economic reasons at the time. a typical 1930's semi is much more modest than a semi built 10/15 years prior.

Post ww2 hardly any leaded lights were being manufactured, at least on the scale they had been before. Plain textured glazing and float glass was used instead as it was cheaper, and leaded lights had all but gone out of fashion. Then came the resurgence in the 1980's of "Victoriana" and leaded lights became popular again, however people then started using the term "stained glass" instead. There is an explanation of these terms in a page on our website, click here - https://www.dsunderlandandson.co.uk/terminology

It's worth mentioning that even though these styles are defined within their time periods, they do all intersect. Architects weren't all doing exactly the same thing at the time and there's plenty of examples of homes having leaded lights that look like they're from another period. For example many Victorian homes have much more floral styles that would be typical of the Edwardian period. Another thing we often see is Victorian houses which have had their sliding sash windows "revamped" in the 1930's with Art Deco or similar styles. If you have ever been to Saltaire you will see many leaded lights in the terraced houses near Salts mill (see example below). All of which are 1930's additions.

7 views0 comments