Judas window
Posted: 18 January 2015 09:11 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I hadn’t come across this term before looking at the crime writer John Dickson Carr’s bibliography - one of his titles is The Judas Window, 1936. Here’s OED:

Judas, n.

3. A small aperture or lattice in a door, orig. the door of a prison cell, through which a person can look without being noticed from the other side; a spyhole, a peephole. See also Compounds 1b. Now somewhat arch.

1837 Ward’s Misc. 15 Nov. 727/2 Following the slow march of that whitish square that the Judas at my door cuts out upon the dark wall opposite to me.

And, under Compounds:

C1. attrib.

b. Designating a spyhole or similar opening in a cell door, etc. (see sense 3), esp. in Judas hole, Judas trap, Judas window, etc.

1858 Sat. Rev. 31 July 103/2 It is impossible any longer to ignore the existence of these ‘Judas-Holes’. Many English ladies will feel very uncomfortable henceforth.
1865 Daily Tel. 9 Nov. 6/6 The man..you may see through the Judas-hole when you make a round of the Model Prison with the visiting magistrates.
1866 G. A. Sala Trip to Barbary ix. 157 In some Moorish houses, in addition to the Judas trap in the door, there are spy-holes in the wall.
1874 Tinsley’s Mag. Aug. 219/2, I looked at him through my Judas window, as he took his accustomed place in the outer office.
1900 Methodist Mag. & Rev. Apr. 374/2 Through a ‘Judas’ slit in the door the guard could watch every motion of the prisoner.
1981 H. Engel Ransom Game (1982) xxvii 149 They..pushed me..up a narrow set of stairs. At the top was a door with a judas window in it, like in speakeasies in the movies.
1989 ‘D. Wait’ in K. Smith Inside Time xii. 81 All the old doors are also bolted… Almost gone now is the judas spy-hole with its pear-shaped flap.
2006 L. Welsh Bullet Trick (2007) 10 There was a brief pause, then a bustling beyond the door and a Judas hole slid back with a crack

Two points. Re that 1858 cite I wonder which ‘Judas-Holes’ were meant. Surely they weren’t built into private residences. Or, moving on to my second point, were they? From the wiki on Carr’s novel The Judas Window;

In the British prison system, a “Judas window” is in the door of a cell and enables the guards to observe prisoners without being seen themselves. But Sir Henry Merrivale points out another Judas window that is in every room, but that no one notices.

What does Sir Henry mean? No explanation in the wiki and I haven’t read the book.

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Posted: 18 January 2015 09:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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"There’s one in every room...”
This mystery blog is asking the same question:  https://yetanothermysteryblog.wordpress.com/2011/12/17/theres-one-in-every-room/

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Posted: 18 January 2015 11:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I’m guessing the blog writer is being coy and that the implicit question in answered in the book.  I’ll also take a guess that it refers to keyholes of [edit: I mean, “or"] the space under the door.

[ Edited: 18 January 2015 02:30 PM by Dr. Techie ]
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Posted: 18 January 2015 01:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Dr. Techie - 18 January 2015 11:43 AM

I’m guessing the blog writer is being coy and that the implicit question in answered in the book.  I’ll also take a guess that it refers to keyholes of the space under the door.

Of course! I was thinking over-elaborately. A keyhole is undoubtedly the answer.

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Posted: 20 January 2015 07:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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aldiboronti - 18 January 2015 01:50 PM

Dr. Techie - 18 January 2015 11:43 AM
I’m guessing the blog writer is being coy and that the implicit question in answered in the book.  I’ll also take a guess that it refers to keyholes of the space under the door.

Of course! I was thinking over-elaborately. A keyhole is undoubtedly the answer.

I’m still not sure why the word/name “Judas” would be used for such a thing?

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Posted: 20 January 2015 08:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Spying can imply betrayal.

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Posted: 21 January 2015 07:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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OP Tipping - 20 January 2015 08:11 PM

Spying can imply betrayal.

I suppose. I would have called it a “Rahab window” but that would be loaded in the harlot direction.

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Posted: 05 August 2015 01:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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I came across “Judas Window” in Peter Lovesey’s “Peter Diamond” detective series. There are lots of Britishisms in his writing. In doing some searching about, I think I found a possible answer to my own question that I posted here last January.

This was posted in answers.com without attribution:

Historically, a ‘Judas hole’ is a one-way spy-hole in a church door through which one could see outside to ensure that no person of ill intent could enter the church.

So, to see if there are any Judases approaching, I suppose.
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Posted: 05 August 2015 07:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Also, to add to the mix we have:

The New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and unconventional English
By Eric Partridge

Judas goat:  an animal trained to lead other animals into slaughter US, 1941

Judas hole; Judas eye; Judas window:
a small peep-hole in a door through which one can see who is outside the door without being seen from outside US 1865

Inside the street door of the cell block was a basket of steel bars around the Judas window.--Raymond Chandler, The long Goodbye, p. 44 1953

Upstairs at the end of a long corridor of doors with painted windows on both sides, there’s another door all wood with a Judas hole in the middle of it. Robert Campbell, Junkyard Dog, p. 68 1996

Judas priest! Used as an expression of surprise or outrage.US 1914

A non sequitor, I thank Aldiboronti for the referral to Carr’s highly praised The Judas Window, which I’ve just ordered on Amazon; I’m an avid reader of Golden Age mysteries.

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Posted: 11 August 2015 09:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Glad to be of avail, Logophile. I too am an ardent fan of Golden Age mysteries, especially the subgenre of the locked room murder of which writers such as John Dickson Carr and Ellery Queen were past masters.

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Posted: 11 August 2015 11:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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I used to enjoy Gavin Lyall’s thrillers which were too late for the Golden Age and there was one called Judas Country set in the Eastern Mediterranean which was about betrayal, as you’d expect.

I once read an excellent noir novel by Kenneth Fearing called The Big Clock and I have just looked it up to find out when it was published. The twist is that the guy who dunnit is tasked with finding out who dunnit in a sort of locked-building thriller with suspects slowly eliminated as it gets increasingly claustrophobic. The plot thickens with an extraordinary coincidence -

The Big Clock is a 1946 novel by Kenneth Fearing. Published by Harcourt Brace, the thriller was his fourth novel, following three for Random House (The Hospital, Dagger of the Mind, Clark Gifford’s Body) and five collections of his poetry. The story first appeared in abridged form in The American Magazine (October 1946), as “The Judas Picture”. The story was adapted for two notable films, The Big Clock (1948) starring Ray Milland, and No Way Out (1987) starring Kevin Costner.

I liked the Costner version in which he turned out to be a Judas in the sense of spying for the Soviets.

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