For those of you who would like to know, here is a bit of history about fanlights and transoms and why they're such a great place to put your house number!
A fanlight is simply a window above a front door. It derived it's name from the fact that most were in the shape of a fan in Georgian times, just like the one we see today in 10 Downing Street. In America they are more commonly known as Transoms which describes where they are placed, just above the transom (the solid beam that separates the top of a door or window from the rest of the wall).
Fanlights were first introduced in the 1720's. Before electric lighting, fanlights enabled more natural light to enter the previously dark hallways. Georgian designs first started with glass being set within a wooden or metal semi-circular frame. Designs became more elaborate as metal work techniques improved. It was perhaps the advent of Palladianism and its arched doorways that created the semicircular form, just like an open fan. This already aesthetic shape was taken as a design opportunity which reached its decorative peak at the end of the century. The published designs of Robert Adam in the 1770s had a big influence on the development of this decorative form whilst rectangular frames became more popular in later Georgian designs. The fanlight became so successful during the Georgian period that it is iconic of the architectural style, forming the focal point and showpiece of the house frontage. It was widely used and can be found in London, Edinburgh, Dublin, Liverpool, Bristol and all the Georgian towns, spreading to North America, and "colonial" architecture in South Africa and Australia.
The Victorians continued with the tradition. During this period as more and more people left the land to work in the towns and cities of the industrial revolution, vast swathes of land were swallowed up by the big cities to build more housing for their ever growing populations. The fanlight really came into its own, as all properties, be they grand city mansions or apartment blocks to the street upon street of terraced housing, each would have a fanlight.
It is at this time that it became widespread and almost universal in some areas to have your address displayed in the fanlight, usually in the form of gold leaf house numbers or sometimes with leaded glass. With the increase in new dwellings and popularity of the penny post, it was important for people to be able to determine the address of a house. Sign writers turned this into an art in itself with elaborate designs but sadly this tradition fell by the way in the late 1920's and 30's.
Some homeowners are still lucky to have their original victorian house numbers, however, others are not so fortunate and want to recreate period features to match their Victorian front door and in keeping with the architectural style of their home. The demand for period features is increasing and what better way can you display your house number in such an elegant way.
So from a simple window used to let more light in to a picture frame to display your house number!