The balconies of Bonhaven


Bonhaven was a patchwork of narrow streets, with houses adorned by ornate, overhanging balconies, allowing families to soak up a little sun on wintry mornings, or enjoy a cool drink in the summer evening breeze.

Neighbourhood competitions developed – loveliest balcony garden, best Christmas display. The neighbours of Bonhaven chatted, balcony to balcony, so close were the houses. Their balconies connected them.

But there came a time when along the balconies spread murmurs of discontent, then rumours of government corruption and the first sparks of protest and rebellion.

That was when they announced the crippling balcony tax, and the Bonhaven revolution was extinguished.


This story is for Friday Fictioneers, a weekly flash fiction challenge hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. The picture prompt made me think of houses  with bricked-up windows – a response to the window taxation which existed in Britain and France from the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries – longer in France. Click on the picture below to read more.

Window tax

38 thoughts on “The balconies of Bonhaven

  1. In my sleepy Northamptonshire village the manor house still had a bricked up window. Not sure I completely disapprove – it was a way to tax the rich! Nowadays the rich have devious accountants – back then they had brickies.
    Great take on the prompt.
    PS Aren’t Dutch buildings taxed on width, hence the tall narrow Dutch style? Clearly you can’t win!


    • I was intrigued to learn that the window tax was introduced in the UK because the original idea – taxing income – was rejected by the population as an invasion of privacy. I didn’t know about the Dutch buildings – that’s interesting too. I’m glad you liked my story. Thank you for leaving a reply.


    • Thank you, Elephant. Those buildings must have been (and I guess still are) very dark and gloomy inside. There’s not all that much sunlight in that part of the world anyway, I hear, so to have to shut it out would be awful.


    • When the balconies were lost their community was destroyed, along with their potential to rebel. I’m glad you enjoyed my story – thank you for the nice feedback.


  2. Great, clever story. A cunning way to curb talk of revolution – cut down social interaction.

    I’ve heard of window tax, but I loved the bottom of the Wiki article you linked to where it says “see also – brick tax, hearth tax, wallpaper tax” etc etc 🙂 Yep, tax everything!


    • Thank you, Draliman. They found a way to nip the rebellion in the bud, but in the process they killed the life spark in the community. The scene in the photo looks so bleak, I enjoyed inventing a happier time for it. You’re right about tax – it seems everything’s fair game.


  3. A fascinating tale, Margaret. I love your descriptions of all those lovely social events involving the balconies before the murmurs of discontent and rebellion resulted in the arrival of another dreaded tax. Well done. 🙂


    • Thank you, Millie. They had a very happy community until things started to go wrong in the halls of power – isn’t that so often the case? I’m glad you enjoyed my story. Thank you for leaving a comment.


  4. I think I saw something like that on Blue Collar Comedy. Three guys were all bragging about who had the biggest deck (a ground level balcony). Everything thing was fine until they started being taxed according to size. Then, everyone was happy with a little deck. 🙂


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