A wonderful Federation gazebo with floral and ribbon motifs at Yaralla in Haberfield 1915.
In the inner western suburbs of Sydney there are thousands of wonderful examples of leadlight windows.
I thought: How can these wonderful leadlight features of the Inner West be conserved when no record or descriptions the leadlight exists?
With this in mind I took a camera with me in an attempt to document what I was seeing. I decided to only take photographs from the street and not invade people’s properties and I will only use photographs I have taken myself, by helpful others or by the owners.
At this stage I have documented Ashbury, Ashfield, Haberfield, Hurlstone Park, Dulwich Hill, and have just completed Summer Hill.
I have started on Marrickville but COVID-19 has put that on hold for the moment.
What I have found incredibly rewarding, as I wander the streets, is the amazing diversity of the housing in the inner western suburbs, and, accordingly, the amazing diversity there is in the leadlight that still exists.
The designs/patterns in the individual leadlight windows in these suburbs is unique in its style and represents the taste of the original owners, the builder or the artisan/craftsman who made them. These leadlight windows are beautiful artefacts that record, in lead and glass, some of the significant social and political influences in Australia from the 1890’s to 1940 and, the rise of the middle class. They all add beauty and individuality to the homes in which people live now and they certainly added beauty and individuality to the dwellings when they were originally built and to the beauty of the streets. They are a significant part of the heritage of teh Inner West.
I realised as I started to put this site together that I really knew very little about the leadlight designs other than what I had observed in my wanderings. I am looking forward to exploring other suburbs. Ashbury was the starting point because that is where I live.
So this will be a rather unique record of leadlight windows and doors because I have not, so far, come across any site/book that has attempted to record every leadlight window in a suburb let alone several suburbs. The photographs are the best I can manage with a Panasonic Lumix bridge camera. Hedges, security screens and doors quite frequently conceal beautiful leadlight. Almost all the photographs are taken from the street, some have been taken from inside at the invitation of the owner, and, a small number have been sent to me from inside by the owner or another Committee Member of the Ashfield & District Historical Society.
I must, without equivocation, express my gratitude to the Ashfield & District Historical Society, without whose support I would not have even contemplated this project. Subdivision maps have been obtained from the State Library of New South Wales and the assistance provided by the staff there has really been appreciated. So too, Vincent Crow's three books 'Tours of Haberfield Past and Present' have been more than helpful in determining the dates of construction of many houses in Haberfield.
I have undoubtedly missed a few leadlight windows and some of the photographs are not that great but it is the best that could be done from the street. Almost certainly I have many dates incorrect. What I really hope is that people can help me identify the exact date of construction of their homes and if there is any way I could obtain some photos from the inside of houses I would love it because that is what these wonderful windows were for; to illuminate the interiors of homes. Having said that I also have come to believe that these leadlight panels in windows, doors, sidelights, bull's eyes and in small windows were also making a statement to the street; creating an impression, indulging in fantasy and increasingly bringing such beautiful things into the lives of people of modest incomes.
This site is an experiment and will change as I learn more and new images and information become available. I am also really keen to get photographs of leadlight from the inside so if you have some leadlight and can photograph it I will be more than pleased to add it to this site.
Too often houses are totally demolished and all all their history goes with them.