The period of architecture that we call Georgian is roughly equivalent to the 18th century. The architecture commonly associated with Georgian England is more strongly identifiable in the period 1730-1800. More than any other period in English historic architecture, Georgian style is linked with the classical period of Rome and Greece.
Georgian architecture was highly influenced by classical architecture. A generation of aristocratic youth travelled throughout Europe which polished their education and exposed the most influential class in Britain to the classical traditions of style and architecture. They came back home and fired by an enthusiasm for classical architecture and design.
Wealthy landlords enclosed vast tracts of land to create huge landscaped parks which acted as a setting for grand houses that We’ll call country houses. These country house estates were dotted with allegorical architecture elements like grottoes, follies and bridges. The elements were aligned by joined subtle openings in carefully planted shrubs and trees. The houses that dominated these parks carried classical philosophy.
The type of building which most characterised the Georgian period was the Town House, often not joined end to end to create terraces. The 18th Century was a time of great urban growth, and the density of settlement in towns meant that there was a need to pack a lot of houses into the small space. This need gives birth to the terrace that allowed a whole street to be given a sense of architectural wholeness. The size of the houses was kept small. The terrace was made of bricks with sloping slate roofs hidden behind stone parapets.
Walls between houses were built thick to prevent the spread of fire. The dividing walls carried the weight of the chimney stacks and most of them were four stories high. The front door was accessed by a short flight of stairs.
Windows were exclusively sash windows made of standardised panes of glass divided by thin, delicate wooden glazing bars.
- Symmetry, centred façade entry with windows that are aligned horizontally and vertically.
- One or two storey box
- Commonly side gabled with a gambrel or hipped roof.
- Raised foundation
- Panelled front doors, capped with a decorative crown often supported by decorative pilasters
- Comice emphasised by decorative moulding.
- Double-hung sash windows with small lights separated by thick wooden muntins
- Five bay façade
- Centre chimneys
- Wood frame with shingle or clapboard wall
Georgian architecture conclusion
Georgian architecture buildings in England were often made of brick or stone. This was the local material that was available as transportation of building material around the country was difficult before the railways. Sometimes brick buildings were faced in stone to appear more high status. Some have even rendered on the bottom floor shaped to look like stone and then stone higher up. The Georgian buildings usually have a square symmetrical shape and are carefully proportioned according to fashionable classical design principles. They are the most sought architectural design today.