A Brief History of Plantation Shutters

Plantation shutters have been used to add both charm and practicality to homes of distinction for generations. But have you ever stopped to consider the history of plantation shutters and their origins? Or for that matter, the history of window shutters in general?

In the case of the latter, mankind has been using all manner of materials and rudimentary devices to fashion makeshift shutters since the dawn of recorded history. As for plantation shutters, it may interest you to learn that these iconic coverings were first brought back to America from Spain. After which their popularity grew, summarily seeing plantation shutters make their way back over to Europe to become a staple in the homes and lives of millions.

So really, they travelled the Atlantic in both directions, simply to make their way out of Spain and make their mark on Europe as a whole.

Plantation Shutter Origins

Back in the day…as in a rather long time ago…plantation shutters were manufactured using marble, rather than wood. In addition, they were solid and didn’t allow air to pass through. This was long before plantation shutters as we know them today become a common sight in Spain. In fact it wasn’t Spain that invented plantation shutters at all. Contrary to popular belief, all credit goes the way of Ancient Greece.

History shows that the ancient Greeks used the earliest plantation shutters as a barrier from the cold and strong winds that would batter buildings by the sea. Their solid marble construction also made them useful as an added layer of protection for the property in general.

Plantation Shutter Evolution

The more familiar wooden plantation shutters we typically associate with Spain first made an appearance in America much later. As they were a common fixture on stately homes and mansions across the country’s cotton plantations, they quickly earned the name ‘plantation shutters’. The idea being that the design of the shutters helped keep interiors cool during the summer and protected from harsh weather during the winter.

But what’s interesting is how these plantation shutters were technically something of a hybrid. A cross between the shutters invented by the ancient Greeks and those that were commonly used in Elizabethan England. In the case of the latter, solid wood was used rather than the modern slatted version – typically covering only the bottom part of the window. Far from the status symbol they would soon become, these early shutters were associated with the poor – typically only used by those who couldn’t afford ‘real’ windows.

Still, it wouldn’t be long before things would take a dramatic turn in an entirely different direction. Plantation shutters became an indicator of distinction and wealth, not only in America but as far overseas as South Africa and Australia. Nevertheless, it’s only as of relatively recently that the plantation shutter trend has caught on in many parts of Europe.

Indeed, their overdue renaissance here in the UK is only just beginning to find its feet.

Categories: Shutters in London