Georgian and Regency (1714-1837) & Victorian and Edwardian (1837-1911)

These two periods of architecture between the reigns of George I and William IV are generally known as Georgian and Regency, with the former being subdivided into early and late.

The cottage was originally a dwelling that gave minimal accommodation to the members of the cottager class, those who earned their living as labourers and craftsmen. The original cottage would have been one room about 12’ x 14’, and usually the roof would have been covered with a cheap thatch.

The prosperity and improved forms of transport meant that the cottage could now be covered with either slate or tiles brought from the distant hills of Wales and Cumberland. The Georgian terrace met the new demand of something between the Country House and the cottage.

The introduction of builder’s copybooks encouraged uniformity of design, and fashionable terraces and squares sprung up in London, Edinburgh and many of the spa towns. These houses combined the arrangement of rooms on several levels connected by a staircase, with the service area in the basement, and the servant’s bedrooms in the second floor.

The same type of house, although smaller, was in demand by the merchants who were moving from their usual practice of living over their business premises. Bedford Square in London is a good example of this type of development, and features some fine examples of the deeply rounded doorway arch of cast stone, with individual fanlights over the door.

The last few years of the reign of George III and the reigns of George IV and William IV are known as the Regency period. It was a natural progression and retained many of the Georgian features including the uniformity of design.

With timber becoming scarce and coal easily transported, the use of bricks and tiles wherever clay was found was predominant. Also slates were available from Wales and lead from the north of England.

To satisfy the client who wished to have a stone house, often the brick façade would be rendered over with ‘stucco’ which was then scored to represent the more prestigious stone house. From now on industrial processed materials would dominate domestic architecture in the United Kingdom; standardisation was here to stay.

We have now entered the age of the speculative builder, few would believe that Thomas Cubitt built part of Belgravia on that basis. The houses were designed to meet the requirements of the country gentlemen that needed a house in London.

The most important room was the (with)drawing room on the first floor, and ran the whole depth of the house, with French windows on to a balcony over a porticoed entrance. One other requirement was provision for at least one pair of horses and a carriage, and living accommodation for coachman and groom. The two story buildings fronted onto a narrow cobbled street, and have now mostly been turned into what are known as mews houses.

While this major development was going on in West London, villas were being built in Paddington and Deptford, usually with hooded verandas and pierced tracery in cast iron supports. These villas sprung up around the country, and even as far as the Isle of Wight in Victorian times.
During the late Regency period landscape gardening was introduced by Capability Brown, who realised that the garden should be less formal than in the Tudors times, and should embrace nature.

Victorian and Edwardian (1837-1911)


(1) The British Empire was almost one hundred times larger than the United Kingdom.
(2) The rich were becoming richer, whereas the workers were still treated badly.
(3) More bricks were laid in the Victorian time than any other period before, and the great boom in railways, at its height in the 1850’s, increased the range of the brick revolution.

Titus Salt was the first industrialist to introduce social housing. In 1850 he built a complete village, which still remains today called Saltaire, just outside Bradford. The village consisted of a mill, houses for the workers, a hospital, a school and marked a great step forward in town planning.

The great exhibition of 1851 saw glass and steel combined in a way not thought feasibly before. Joseph Paxton designed the structure that was the brain child of Prince Albert. The exhibition was first erected in Hyde Park and covered 29 acres, and the exhibits included the latest in machinery and works of art from all over the World. Over 6 million people visited the exhibition before it was moved to Sydenham heights in 1852, later known as crystal palace, and there it stayed until 1936 when it burnt down.

Two new community towns were built by George Cadbury ( Bournville ) and Port Sunlight by William Lever. Both were built as a means to encourage loyalty from their workers by offering better housing and a self-contained community.

The Public Health Act of 1875 laid the foundations for much of legislation in housing, public health and town planning we use today. Unfortunately the Victorian builders being typically greedy used the minimum standards to build many ‘Coronation Street’ type rows of dreary terraces.

The town houses followed much in the Georgian mould but became more ornate, and this can be seen in much of Kensington and earls Court. Villas were very popular, and mansion flats first appeared in the inner city areas of most big cities.

Between the late 19th century and the early 20th century architecture was to witness a movement rather than a particular style. This was called the Arts and Craft Movement and was encouraged by William Morris. Many of the movements characteristics live on today, such as exposed beams and bare brickwork, typifying the cottagey look of Morris, and later the more starker simplistic look of Mackintosh and Lutyens.

Edward VI became king in 1901 at the age of 59, and he was to preside over a country at the height of it’s power throughout the world, controlling almost a quarter of all land surfaces.
In 1898 Ebenezer Howard inspired by a trip to America published a book called Tomorrow, in which he outlined his ideas for a garden city. In 1903 Howard’s ideas were put into practise at Letchworth, where 3818 acres had been bought for just over £40 per acre.

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