Transom Numbers

Transom Numbers

The Ultimate Number!

Displaying your house number in the transom window above your door was once a common sight on most streets. It started in the early 1800's when sign-writers of the time would use gold leaf to gild the address for all to see, turning it into an art, of which many fine examples still survive today.

Sadly though, this fine tradition fell by the way and was forgotten by many.

At The Transom Number Co we want to recreate all the elegance and style of those original gilded numbers but at a fraction of the cost. Using designs from original pattern books of the day we use modern materials to ensure that your numbers will last for years and at the same time emulating all the qualities of original gold leaf. If you live in a period or period style house, our numbers are a way of bringing back that original style to your home.

Our house numbers are easy to install and we have a simple online ordering process with different color and shadow options available all with a 10 year guarantee. All our numbers are designed and made in the UK and are shipped across the world.

Over the years we have built a strong reputation in providing quality stylish products at a reasonable price, backed up with customer service that is second to none.

We know you love your home and only want the best, that's why it makes us very proud when our numbers make you happy.

Please click on any of the links to take you to our main site for further info and images.

More information about Transom Numbers

Transom Numbersis the phrase which describes the numbers used to identify different houses along a street. Transom numbers come in many different fonts, sizes and styles. Together with the rest of a house’s exterior decoration, transom numbers can really reflect the house owner’s individual taste. Whether it’s a white-wash, rustic look on the number plate which perfectly complements the black and white beams of a Tudor house, a nicely polished bronze plate to top off the front door of a ground floor flat in a Georgian manor, or friendly transom numbers complete with cartoon animals to mark out a fun-loving owner, or a family with lively kids.

Transom Numbersare so called because the numbers identifying different houses on a street are traditionally positioned on the ‘transom’ of a house; i.e., the crosspiece beam separating the front door from a window or fanlight above it. Because of this, transom numbers are also sometimes called ‘fanlight’ numbers, especially in the UK. The crosspiece beams or bars are also sometimes known as ‘overlights’ or ‘hoppers’ in the UK, or as ‘vasistas’ in France; but these names didn’t catch on as names for house numbers. Nowadays, not every door has a window and a transom beam above it (especially if you live in a flat or small house!), and house numbers are just as often attached directly to the front door, or on the wall next to it. However, the terms Transom Numbersand ‘fanlight numbers’ have stuck.

These terms for house numbers caught on partly because fanlights and transoms are an intrinsic part of the Georgian or Napoleonic architectural style; and this period – the eighteenth century - ruled over by a series of kings called George in Britain and by Napoleon Bonaparte in France, was the time in which transom numbers for houses became popular.

Previously to the eighteenth century, houses were generally identified by names. These names could tell people something about the owners of the house – notably the houses of ‘noble’ or aristocratic families, which had the same name as the surname of the inhabitants – or, with a name like ‘Three Chimneys,’ ‘Ivy Cottage’ or ‘The Vicarage’ could help people to identify the house by a feature of the architecture or by the location, without the need for transom numbers. However, with populations exploding in the eighteenth century, more and more houses sprang up. Due to the industrial revolution, people didn’t live in villages far away from each other anymore – where there might only be ten or twenty houses, easily identifiable by their name or location. Instead, what we know as modern living had become, with many identical houses built quickly and right next to each other. On a street in London, Manchester or Paris containing one hundred identical houses, giving a different name to each house would be impossible. And with so many people moving around, postmen couldn’t any longer be expected to know who lived where. They needed transom numbers.

Meanwhile, the new revolutionary government in France, led by Napoleon Bonaparte, created a ‘big state’ in which the government was more keen to have a definite idea of where people lived, what their jobs were, and what the condition of their housing was. Paris had experimented with using transom numbers since the fifteenth century, but hadn’t really caught on: partly because the poorer people living in the houses couldn’t read or write, and so didn’t use the postal service, while people who did use the post tended to be rich enough to live in distinctive houses which could be easily identified by name. For instance, in many districts – in France, the UK and across the rest of Europe – the only person receiving post might be the lord of the manor; and his house would be helpfully called the ‘Manor House.’ No need for transom numbers there!

This is when house numbers, or transom numbers, became popular. And that’s why the names we give to house numbers – transom numbers or fanlight numbers – originate from the eighteenth century: because that’s when transom numbers first become common.

The Inns of Court in Lincoln Inn, where Georgian lawyers congregated to work and socialise, is thought by some to be the first place in the UK to have adapted the use of transom numbers in order to identify the different buildings. However, numbering with transom numbers was not official or compulsory until the Postage Act of 1765. This Act is now more famous for triggering the American War of Independence, as it included levies on transactions in the States which some of the then-colonialists found unreasonable. But it also had a role in regularising the British postal service, and that included compulsory transom numbers, in order to for postmen and other inhabitants to identify different houses. However, like most acts of government (especially in the eighteenth century) the use of transom numbers was far more rigorously enforced in London and other large cities than in the countryside. Nowadays, many houses in rural areas still use names instead of numbers. And with the fashion changing, towards people making their houses more individual, many people use names to identify their property – such as ‘The Nook,’ ‘Honeysuckle Cottage’ or ‘Sea Scape’ – in a way which reflects how they feel about their homes. These properties, however, will often still have official numbers which are used to refer to them in government documents, so many houses have a ‘belt and braces’ look, with a pretty name plate alongside a well-crafted sign giving the transom numbers.

Nowadays, transom numbers usually identify houses with odd numbers on the left side of the road (if you stand at Number One and look ahead as the numbers increase) and even numbers on the right side. However, before the mid-nineteenth century, it was common to use transom numbers that ascended consecutively (i.e., 1, 2, 3, 4...) until reaching the end of the street, then turn around and double back. This can be confusing: for instance, somebody standing at Number One Canterbury Road may think that they’ll have to walk for miles in order to reach Number 200, but that house may in fact be right on the opposite side of the street – the only way to find out is to check the transom numbers. The most famous example of this kind of numbering is in Downing Street, where Number Ten, where the Prime Minister traditionally lives, is right next to the Chancellor’s home at Number Eleven.

Gold Transom Numbers

Transom Numbers

White Transom Numbers