If you have ever seen the film ‘Pride and Prejudice’ you’ll know a bit about it already. It was a time of being very proper and polite and neat, and the houses were the same – let’s find out more!
The Georgian period came at a time in history when towns and cities were getting bigger very quickly. As there was a need to fit lots of new homes into small areas, builders created the concept of terraced housing as an answer to this problem. Terraced housing means the houses are built all joined up in a row – it’s very common in cities. Plenty of houses still around today are from the Georgian period….is yours?
Fun Facts about the Georgian period
- Georgian houses didn’t have carpet on their floors – they were mainly just bare floorboards, which were sometimes covered in part by ornamental rugs. Larger houses often had stone or marble floors. Although looking grander, walking barefoot on a stone floor in the winter was a bit chilly – brrrrr.
- The Georgians had some of the first indoor toilets, although they were really more like potties that were hidden in cupboards or even chairs and amazingly they thought a good place for them was in the dining room! Sounds very smelly!
- The Georgians wanted to take civilisation to brilliant new levels, and they were inspired by the buildings of ancient Rome. And if you’re going to copy something, I suppose it might as well be Rome, which is home to some of the greatest buildings in history! I don’t think they’d have liked a noisy Chariot race in their elegant gardens though…
Classic features of a Georgian House
Some styles of architecture don’t look so good hundreds of years later! But Georgian houses are still thought of as elegant and sophisticated.
- Georgian houses were usually built with either brick or stone. The trend was for a lot of reddish brick walls that contrasted with white bricks that were around windows and cornices. The entrances were often emphasised by a portico. And the walls built between terraced houses were sturdy and thick.
- Houses are very spacious in design and have large windows that not only showed off their colour schemes, but also let in lots of sunshine. Unlike the Victorians, the Georgians tended to go for a subtler, more sophisticated room – at least in today’s eyes
- Window shutters were extremely popular, and many front doors had a filigree fanlight with a canopy overhanging. The window openings were likely to be double-hung sash windows and chimneys would be found on both sides of the home. The doors often had a fanlight.
- Georgians liked to have pale colours on their walls so that the rooms were nice and light. The most popular colours were grey, soft blue, dusky pink and white. These were a lot simpler than the bright colours that were previously popular, such as purple and green – yuck
- Curtains were sumptuous, with large pelmets and would match the furniture – fabrics would be decorated with delicate patterns, including floral designs.
- Today, we usually leave our ceilings blank, but the Georgians liked to decorate them with very detailed mouldings of ribbons and classical figures. Next time you’re in a new house, have a look up at the ceiling and see what you find!
- Georgian lighting – fuelled by paraffin – consisted of chandeliers, made from glass, metal and wood with curved centrepiece arms. Wall lights were made in brass or silver, or often a simple candle flame bulb.
- The living area would include classical pillars and columns, screens over the fireplaces and furniture adorned with swags and decoration. The fireplace was always the main focal point of the room, and the walls would be decked out with ornaments such as fans and paintings. An effect that can hardly be reproduced by fireplaces that hang on the wall, however, I do see their charm.
Lets look for a Georgian House
- There’s lots of Georgian houses in London, and it’s possible you’ve been in one without realising! Look out for large windows sash windows which you open by push them up and plenty of woodwork as clues that a house might be Georgian. Mayfair and Marylebone are parts of London with lots of Georgian houses.
- Sometimes, builders built their houses in terraces that gently curved to make a very smart parade of houses – these were some of the poshest houses of the time.
- Around Regents Park you’ll see some of Nash’s magnificent terraces and in Spitalfield’s, you can take a tour of Dennis Sever’s house which has been set up exactly as how a Georgian artist’s house might have been, complete with smells and sounds!
Images by Andrew Dunn and Matt Brown under Creative Commons licence