Georgian and Regency 1714-1837
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.
The period of Medieval to 1837 represent roughly 750,000 dwellings still standing in the UK, and about 250,000 of those are listed ( Grade 1 and 2 ).
The criteria for listing includes all dwellings built before 1700 along with many of those built between 1700 and 1840.
Robert Adam had been appointed architect to the crown in 1764 and after the crippling 20 years of the Napoleonic wars from 1790 to 1815, he became very much part of the Regency style, adding balconies and balustrades to what had been in some respects a dull period of Georgian architecture.
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.