So many neighbourhoods in some of London’s most prestigious areas have remained true to their Georgian, Victorian, or Edwardian architectural roots. A great testament to the quality, durability, and appeal of these period forms. Often, these three styles of properties are referred to collectively as ‘period’ or ‘classical’ homes which encourages us to presume that these three styles of architecture are pretty much the same. Whilst it is true that these styles share various design features, each style represents a different period in architecture and a different time in society, ensuring some unmistakable differences between them.
We take a closer look to find out exactly what the differences between Georgian, Victorian, and Edwardian houses are, so we can fully appreciate their beauty.
Typical style and characteristics of Georgian houses
Aptly named after the period in history that saw the reign of four British monarchs of the House of Hanover – George I, George II, George III, and George IV. Generally speaking, Georgian properties tend to boast quite plain, uncomplicated frontages that were often built with brick and stone, sash windows, and symmetry at the core of the design. 10 Downing Street is a great example of Georgian architecture and probably the most famous Georgian house in London! The Georgian period covers over 100 years (namely the 18th century) so, it is not really a style but an era within which we witnessed architecture and interior design develop in leaps and bounds, from very simplistic designs in the early 1700s through to the more intricate features (such as ornate iron railings), associated with the latter years ruled with King George IV at the helm.
The 18th Century was a time of great urban growth and settlement within British towns which meant that there was a need to accommodate more people into one household. Townhouses were a great solution to this predicament and have become the building type most characterised by the Georgian era.
Georgian architecture remains popular today with an increasing number of homeowners opting for the styles and traditions born within the Georgian era.
What are the characteristics of a Georgian house?
- Townhouses arranged over three or four storeys.
- Sash windows with smaller panes – tall windows on the first two floors and smaller windows on the top storeys.
- Symmetrical, flat exterior and balanced interior layout.
- Stucco-fronted exterior (rendered in a plaster material that covers the construction material beneath). In earlier Georgian designs, the ground floor was rendered, and the rest of the exterior was exposed brickwork, during the end of the era, houses were rendered from top to bottom.
- Rendered exterior painted white or cream.
- Built around garden squares, as the houses did not have their own garden.
Typical style and characteristics of Victorian houses
The Victorian era covered the period of Queen Victoria’s reign from 1837 – 1901. It was during this time that the UK began to really feel the effects of the industrial revolution as its large towns and cities saw a rapid rise in industrialisation and therefore, housing, as the population moved in search of work. Contrary to popular belief, terraced housing was commonplace before the Victorian era, with many Georgian properties in London built within a terrace. However, the industrial revolution saw a boom in terraced properties, mainly since they could be erected quickly and cheaply, and close to factories for workers to live in.
The arrival of the industrial revolution also meant that homes were no longer reserved for the wealthy and the elite, instead homes were becoming more accessible and less ostentatious. Whilst Victorian properties do often retain some of the features introduced by the Georgians, such as a balanced exterior and sash windows, the Victoria era also inherited styles from the Gothic revival architectural movement which really make them stand out from Georgian properties.
The beginning of the Victorian era began with simple plain brick (or stucco) and sash windows, but as the time progressed red brick and terracotta became more favourable. The industrial revolution also introduced new building materials such as iron and glass which made it possible to enhance the properties with more decorative, Gothic styled features. These Gothic features are really what identifies a building as Victorian – lancet (pointed) windows, porches, dormers and pointed roofs that are sometimes decorated with a wooden trim that hangs from the edges are all unmistakable Victorian traits.
Inside, you will find high ceilings and large windows, narrow hallways and a simple two up, two down floor plans.
What are the characteristics of a Victorian property?
- Coloured brick exterior
- High pitched roof with ornate trim
- Geometric tiled hallways that have seen a revival in recent years.
- A porch (often brick)
- Front door at the side of the property
- Stained glass windows
- Dark furniture and wooden floors
- Narrow hallway
- Fireplace in every room often with a tiled surround
Because housing became more accessible to middle and lower classes during the Victorian era, adding decorative features to a property became a way for the upper class (and the elite) to showcase their wealth; the more elaborate the design details on a property, the wealthier its owner was considered.
Typical style and characteristics of an Edwardian property
Edwardian properties were built during the reign of King Edward VII of the United Kingdom, which lasted from 1901 to 1910. These houses display specific architectural and design characteristics that reflect the prevailing trends of that time.
Edwardian properties are often constructed using brick as the primary building material. The use of brick gives these houses a solid and enduring appearance. Sometimes, the brickwork is complemented by stone or rendered accents.
Compared to the more ornate Victorian architecture that preceded it, Edwardian architecture embraced a simpler and more elegant design approach. Clean lines and understated detailing characterise the exteriors.
Edwardian houses tend to have a symmetrical facade, with balanced and evenly spaced windows and doors. This sense of symmetry adds a sense of order and visual harmony to the design.
Many Edwardian properties feature bay windows that project outward from the facade. These bay windows not only provide additional interior space but also allow for more natural light to enter the rooms.
Edwardian roofs often have hipped or gabled forms with a moderate slope. The roofing material is typically slate or tiles. Some properties may have dormer windows that extend from the roof and add architectural interest. Verandas and porches are common features in Edwardian houses. These covered outdoor spaces are often supported by elegant columns and provide a place for relaxation and outdoor seating.
Edwardian properties commonly have large sash windows with multiple panes of glass. These windows contribute to the overall aesthetic and character of the architecture while allowing for good ventilation. While less ornate than the Victorian era, Edwardian properties still exhibit decorative elements. These might include intricate brickwork patterns, delicate mouldings, and decorative corbels.
The interiors of Edwardian properties typically feature high ceilings that create a sense of spaciousness. This design element contrasted with the lower ceilings often found in Victorian houses. Edwardian houses aimed to create brighter and more open interior spaces. Large windows, including the characteristic sash windows, were designed to allow ample natural light to flood the rooms.
Some Edwardian properties were influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement, which emphasised craftsmanship, natural materials, and attention to detail. This influence might be seen in interior woodwork, built-in furniture, and other decorative elements. Edwardian properties often featured more practical and functional layouts compared to earlier architectural styles. Modern amenities and conveniences were incorporated into the design.
To summarise, the characteristics of an Edwardian property include:
- Brick construction
- High ceilings
- Simplified design
- Bay windows
- Roof design
- Verandas and porches
- Sash windows
- Decorative details
- Light and airy interiors
- Functional layout
- Arts and crafts influence
So, there you have it. The Georgian, Victorian, and Edwardian eras share some simplistic design styles but the culture changes resulting from the advancements of the industrial revolution, combined with the influence of the Gothic revival movement, saw Victorian housing boasting some unique features of its own.
Here at Parsons Joinery we specialise in restoring and adding authentic appeal to period properties with sash windows. If we can help in anyway, just give us a call. We’d love to help.