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Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian Houses – What are the differences?

Housing an amalgamation of styles and architecture from different eras gives British cities their charm. From London to Edinburgh, Victorian homes stand side by side with Edwardian garden squares and Georgian churches.  Delving into the societal and political factors that inspired these highly influential architectural movements, learning how to differentiate between Georgian, Victorian, and Edwardian properties, and seeing how revivalist movements have tried to innovate on these styles throughout the centuries will give you a new-found appreciation for structures you see every day, and, maybe, it can inspire you to design or renovate a period home!  This blog post will act as your guide to these three distinctive and prominent architectural styles that not only dominated from the 18th century till the 20th century but continue seeing a resurgence in popularity and act as ideals and muses to architects and interior designers to this day!

An Introduction to the Georgian Period

Georgian Property

The Georgian period, lasting from 1714 to 1830 and representing the reigns of George I through George IV, was a time of great societal, economic, and cultural change in Britain. Reflected in the architecture of the period, which was a direct reaction and contradiction of the English Baroque that came before, Georgian properties put a great emphasis on symmetry and adherence to classical Roman and Greek architectural principles. 

Row of Georgian Houses in Mayfair London

Distinguishing Features of Georgian Properties

  • Symmetrical Façades and Spacious Interiors

Often 3 or 4 stories tall, Georgian homes are immediately recognisable by their clean, symmetrical façade, and when you step inside, you’ll be greeted with a welcoming spacious interior with high ceilings and wide corridors designed to maximise lighting. 

  • Stone and Bricks as Principal Building Materials

During the Georgian period, we see a perceptible shift towards using stone and red brick as primary construction materials. This was largely precipitated by developments in brickmaking in the 1700s and the need for more sanitary homes. Stucco was extensively used to mask and colour the bricks, and this remains one of the most distinguishing signs of a Georgian property.   

  • Georgian Windows

Large windows, fine wooden vertical and horizontal glazing bars, and small panes numbering anywhere from 6 to a dozen – these are the iconic features of sash windows popular during the Georgian era, from where they’ve gotten their name. Sadly, they were sometimes bricked up to avoid the window tax. Due to lower ceilings, these large windows were often contrasted with smaller windows fitted into the top storey of a Georgian house. 

  • Pediments and Balustrades

The top of a pediment or a balustrade is often the only ornate feature of Georgian properties. Often sophisticated in design and displaying elaborate masonwork, they arguably match classical architecture in aesthetics and appeal!

Apartment in Hampstead- bespoke kitchen island in royal blue wiht sockets

Georgian Architecture: Inspirations, Motivations, and Impact

Coming on the back of Baroque architecture, famous for its lavish designs and extravagant ornamentation, was more reserved. Taking heavy inspiration from classical architecture, there was a much greater emphasis on proportions and symmetry during the Georgian period. Though façades still had decorative features, it was muted and delicate. 

Georgian property renovation services

The transition to classical architecture was partly the work of several highly revered architects and partly an answer to society’s needs. The Georgian era saw the Industrial Revolution go full steam ahead, and with it came a change in the habitation patterns and preferences of residents of the British Isles, particularly in urban areas. Multistorey Georgian townhouses became the preferred living quarters  of London artisans and financiers alike. 

Though today Georgian style is synonymous with a neoclassical approach to design, there was more diversity during the era. Both Revivalist Gothic and Chinoiserie architectures find their roots here. This is particularly on display in Ireland where Gothic churches from the Georgian era continue to dominate the landscape in major cities! 

An Introduction to the Victorian Period

Victorian Property

Victorian architecture refers to the designs and approaches prevalent from 1837 to 1901, representing the rule of Queen Victoria, the second-longest reigning monarch in the history of Britain.  The length of the Queen’s reign is reflected in Victorian architecture, which displays a brilliant variance in style and aesthetics. 

Row of luxury houses in Knighstbridge London - Beaufort gardens

Distinguishing Features of Victorian Properties

  • Asymmetry

Victorian-era properties revelled in asymmetry and used it to great artistic effect. This was most prominently demonstrated through irregular rooflines, different-sized windows and doors, towers, and turrets, though architects were often only limited by their imagination. This is why Victorian homes demonstrate the most variety in designs and architecture out of any era. 

  • Decorative Features

The Victorian era saw a resurgence in the popularity of decorative features, especially after the rise of the Arts and Crafts movement in the latter part of the 19th century. Ornate gables, decorative floor tiles, stained glass windows, and colourful façades are all common features of Victorian houses. 

  • Porches and Bay Windows

Asymmetrical, protruding elements like bay windows and porches became a feature of the quintessential British home in the Victorian era. A picturesque brickwork porch and prominent, multi-sash bay windows were mainstays in the Victorian period. 

  • Use of Sheet Metal

The use of tin, steel, and iron skyrocketed during this era, largely due to advances in metalwork. From iconic pressed metal ceilings to iron railings and ornaments, the use of metal was extensive and varied. 

Victorian Architecture: Inspirations, Motivations, and Impact

The seeds of Gothic Revivalism present during the Georgian era fully bloomed and became a dominant force during the Victorian age. Partly as a response to British industrial architecture and partly as a response to Palladianism, both emphasising symmetry and minimalism, prompted some architects, designers, and aristocrats to feel a decline in construction standards and aesthetics. This most prominently showed itself in the aforementioned arts and crafts movement. 

All of these currents converged during the reign of Queen Victoria to produce some of the most lavishly designed architectural marvels, eye-catching monuments, and gorgeous homes. The ever-timeless Big Ben, constructed in 1859, is the perfect illustration of the tastes and sensibilities of this period.

An Introduction to the Edwardian Period

Edwardian Property

Lasting less than two decades, the Edwardian era starts from the turn of the 20th century until the start of World War 1, largely coinciding with the reign of King Edward VII. Though brief, this period left a lasting impact on the architecture of the country. 

Row of edwardian houses in London

Distinguishing Features of Edwardian Properties

  • The use of Lighter Colours

Partly the influence of Art Nouveau and partly the lingering influence of the Arts and Crafts Movement, brighter, more celebratory colours became the norm for Edwardian properties’ interiors and exteriors. Pink, red, flower and natural patterns were all popular and came at a premium if the item was handmade!

  • Minimalism

The Edwardian period is where minimalist concepts start to take shape. Spacious halls and rooms with simple structures, an emphasis on practicality and proportions, and a desire to declutter make many Edwardian homes feel like they’ve been designed with modern, minimalist sensibilities. 

  • Garden

Garden squares, which became prevalent during the Georgian era, slowly gave way to personal gardens by the Edwardian period as cities expanded. This marked the rise of suburbs with most Edwardian houses having their own garden adorning the front of the property. 

  • Wicker furniture

Exponential growth in international travel and trade made many new tools and items available to interior designers and architects in the UK. Due to their novelty and attractive designs, imported wicker furniture became a favourite of urbanites and is a common sight in surviving Edwardian houses. 

Hartleys Jam Factory Penthouse renovation - Open plan living room with panoramic view of the Shard

Edwardian Architecture: Inspirations, Motivations, and Impact

The Edwardian architectural scene was dominated by revivalist movements. The most prominent was the movement to revive (pre-)Georgian period ideals by the architect and polymath Christopher Wren, who is considered by many to be the most renowned architect in the history of the UK, was responsible for rebuilding large parts of London City after the Great Fire and strongly advocated for proportionality and simplicity. This current is often playfully called the Renaissance.

Edwardian property renovation services

The spread of railways, the slow adoption of motor cars, and the expansion of Urban areas had an impact on the architecture of this period. Edwardian homes are often placed in a straight line and have a uniformity about them that’s characteristic of this era.

In Summary

Georgian, Victorian, or Edwardian, period homes from these eras present an integral part of British history and embody the spirits of their times. They’re a time capsule of hopes and dreams, anxieties and fears of their periods. Whether you’re interested in Victorian properties or Georgian architecture, there’s a lot of beauty to be found. 

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