I really should be moving on to the letter “C,’ but there are so many delicious architectural terms that begin with “B” that I wanted to talk about two more: bay windows and brackets. A bay window is a window that projects from the outside wall of a building. Unlike an oriel window, the bay window is not supported from below by a bracket or a corbel. Bay windows are, however, often accented with brackets, which is the second architectural term for this post! A bracket is any projection from a vertical surface that provides structural support (or looks like it does) under an overhanging member, such as a balcony, cornice, or gable.
Both brackets and bay windows play a dual role of being good looking and serviceable. A bay window adds more light and a bit more space to a room, and livens up the facade of a house. Brackets may actually support a cornice or overhang, but they are also stylish statements of the owner’s good taste and trendiness.
Bay windows began appearing in this country in the 1830s, with the introduction of the Gothic Revival style. They persisted through the Italianate, the Victorian period with its melange of styles, and into the 20th century, where many a bungalow gets a small “bump-out” with a bay window.
Bay windows can either be polygonal or square.
Brackets, on the other hand, can take all sorts of forms, and be plain or ornately fanciful.
I’ve never been lucky enough to live in a house with a bay window, but when I do – it shall have a comfortable window seat built into it, and overlook my garden. I imagine I will spent lots of time there.