Georgian architecture is the name given in most English-speaking countries to the set of architectural styles current between 1714 and 1830. It is eponymous for the first four British monarchs of the House of Hanover—George I, George II, George III, and George IV—who reigned in continuous succession from August 1714 to June 1830. The style was revived in the late 19th century in the United States as Colonial Revival architecture and in the early 20th century in Great Britain as Neo-Georgian architecture; in both it is also called Georgian Revival architecture. In the United States the term "Georgian" is generally used to describe all buildings from the period, regardless of style; in Britain it is generally restricted to buildings that are "architectural in intention", and have stylistic characteristics that are typical of the period, though that covers a wide range.
The Georgian style is highly variable, but marked by symmetry and proportion based on the classical architecture of Greece and Rome, as revived in Renaissance architecture. Ornament is also normally in the classical tradition, but typically restrained, and sometimes almost completely absent on the exterior. The period brought the vocabulary of classical architecture to smaller and more modest buildings than had been the case before, replacing English vernacular architecture (or becoming the new vernacular style) for almost all new middle-class homes and public buildings by the end of the period.
Georgian architecture is characterized by its proportion and balance; simple mathematical ratios were used to determine the height of a window in relation to its width or the shape of a room as a double cube. Regularity, as with ashlar (uniformly cut) stonework, was strongly approved, imbuing symmetry and adherence to classical rules: the lack of symmetry, where Georgian additions were added to earlier structures remaining visible, was deeply felt as a flaw, at least before Nash began to introduce it in a variety of styles. Regularity of housefronts along a street was a desirable feature of Georgian town planning. Until the start of the Gothic Revival in the early 19th century, Georgian designs usually lay within the Classical orders of architecture and employed a decorative vocabulary derived from ancient Rome or Greece.
In towns, which expanded greatly during the period, landowners turned into property developers, and rows of identical terraced houses became the norm. Even the wealthy were persuaded to live in these in town, especially if provided with a square of garden in front of the house. There was an enormous amount of building in the period, all over the English-speaking world, and the standards of construction were generally high. Where they have not been demolished, large numbers of Georgian buildings have survived two centuries or more, and they still form large parts of the core of cities such as London, Edinburgh, Dublin, Newcastle upon Tyne and Bristol.
The period saw the growth of a distinct and trained architectural profession; before the mid-century "the high-sounding title, 'architect' was adopted by anyone who could get away with it". This contrasted with earlier styles, which were primarily disseminated among craftsmen through the direct experience of the apprenticeship system. But most buildings were still designed by builders and landlords together, and the wide spread of Georgian architecture, and the Georgian styles of design more generally, came from dissemination through pattern books and inexpensive suites of engravings. Authors such as the prolific William Halfpenny (active 1723–1755) had editions in America as well as Britain.
A similar phenomenon can be seen in the commonality of housing designs in Canada and the United States (though of a wider variety of styles) from the 19th century down to the 1950s, using pattern books drawn up by professional architects that were distributed by lumber companies and hardware stores to contractors and homebuilders.
From the mid-18th century, Georgian styles were assimilated into an architectural vernacular that became part and parcel of the training of every architect, designer, builder, carpenter, mason and plasterer, from Edinburgh to Maryland.
Georgian succeeded the English Baroque of Sir Christopher Wren, Sir John Vanbrugh, Thomas Archer, William Talman, and Nicholas Hawksmoor; this in fact continued into at least the 1720s, overlapping with a more restrained Georgian style. The architect James Gibbs was a transitional figure, his earlier buildings are Baroque, reflecting the time he spent in Rome in the early 18th century, but he adjusted his style after 1720. Major architects to promote the change in direction from baroque were Colen Campbell, author of the influential book Vitruvius Britannicus (1715–1725); Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington and his protégé William Kent; Isaac Ware; Henry Flitcroft and the Venetian Giacomo Leoni, who spent most of his career in England.
Other prominent architects of the early Georgian period include James Paine, Robert Taylor, and John Wood, the Elder. The European Grand Tour became very common for wealthy patrons in the period, and Italian influence remained dominant, though at the start of the period Hanover Square, Westminster (1713 on), developed and occupied by Whig supporters of the new dynasty, seems to have deliberately adopted German stylistic elements in their honour, especially vertical bands connecting the windows.
The styles that resulted fall within several categories. In the mainstream of Georgian style were both Palladian architecture—and its whimsical alternatives, Gothic and Chinoiserie, which were the English-speaking world's equivalent of European Rococo. From the mid-1760s a range of Neoclassical modes were fashionable, associated with the British architects Robert Adam, James Gibbs, Sir William Chambers, James Wyatt, George Dance the Younger, Henry Holland and Sir John Soane. John Nash was one of the most prolific architects of the late Georgian era known as The Regency style, he was responsible for designing large areas of London. Greek Revival architecture was added to the repertory, beginning around 1750, but increasing in popularity after 1800. Leading exponents were William Wilkins and Robert Smirke.
In Britain brick or stone are almost invariably used; brick is often disguised with stucco. In America and other colonies wood remained very common, as its availability and cost-ratio with the other materials was more favourable. Raked roofs were mostly covered in earthenware tiles until Richard Pennant, 1st Baron Penrhyn led the development of the slate industry in Wales from the 1760s, which by the end of the century had become the usual material.
Versions of revived Palladian architecture dominated English country house architecture. Houses were increasingly placed in grand landscaped settings, and large houses were generally made wide and relatively shallow, largely to look more impressive from a distance. The height was usually highest in the centre, and the Baroque emphasis on corner pavilions often found on the continent generally avoided. In grand houses, an entrance hall led to steps up to a piano nobile or mezzanine floor where the main reception rooms were. Typically the basement area or "rustic", with kitchens, offices and service areas, as well as male guests with muddy boots, came some way above ground, and was lit by windows that were high on the inside, but just above ground level outside. A single block was typical, with perhaps a small court for carriages at the front marked off by railings and a gate, but rarely a stone gatehouse, or side wings around the court.
Windows in all types of buildings were large and regularly placed on a grid; this was partly to minimize window tax, which was in force throughout the period in the United Kingdom. Some windows were subsequently bricked-in. Their height increasingly varied between the floors, and they increasingly began below waist-height in the main rooms, making a small balcony desirable. Before this the internal plan and function of the rooms can generally not be deduced from the outside. To open these large windows the sash window, already developed by the 1670s, became very widespread. Corridor plans became universal inside larger houses.
Internal courtyards became more rare, except beside the stables, and the functional parts of the building were placed at the sides, or in separate buildings nearby hidden by trees. The views to and from the front and rear of the main block were concentrated on, with the side approaches usually much less important. The roof was typically invisible from the ground, though domes were sometimes visible in grander buildings. The roofline was generally clear of ornament except for a balustrade or the top of a pediment. Columns or pilasters, often topped by a pediment, were popular for ornament inside and out, and other ornament was generally geometrical or plant-based, rather than using the human figure.
Inside ornament was far more generous, and could sometimes be overwhelming. The chimneypiece continued to be the usual main focus of rooms, and was now given a classical treatment, and increasingly topped by a painting or a mirror. Plasterwork ceilings, carved wood, and bold schemes of wallpaint formed a backdrop to increasingly rich collections of furniture, paintings, porcelain, mirrors, and objets d'art of all kinds. Wood-panelling, very common since about 1500, fell from favour around the mid-century, and wallpaper included very expensive imports from China.
Smaller houses in the country, such as vicarages, were simple regular blocks with visible raked roofs, and a central doorway, often the only ornamented area. Similar houses, often referred to as "villas" became common around the fringes of the larger cities, especially London, and detached houses in towns remained common, though only the very rich could afford them in central London.
In towns even most better-off people lived in terraced houses, which typically opened straight onto the street, often with a few steps up to the door. There was often an open space, protected by iron railings, dropping down to the basement level, with a discreet entrance down steps off the street for servants and deliveries; this is known as the "area". This meant that the ground floor front was now removed and protected from the street and encouraged the main reception rooms to move there from the floor above. Where, as often, a new street or set of streets was developed, the road and pavements were raised up, and the gardens or yards behind the houses at a lower level, usually representing the original one.
Town terraced houses for all social classes remained resolutely tall and narrow, each dwelling occupying the whole height of the building. This contrasted with well-off continental dwellings, which had already begun to be formed of wide apartments occupying only one or two floors of a building; such arrangements were only typical in England when housing groups of batchelors, as in Oxbridge colleges, the lawyers in the Inns of Court or The Albany after it was converted in 1802. In the period in question, only in Edinburgh were working-class purpose-built tenements common, though lodgers were common in other cities. A curving crescent, often looking out at gardens or a park, was popular for terraces where space allowed. In early and central schemes of development, plots were sold and built on individually, though there was often an attempt to enforce some uniformity, but as development reached further out schemes were increasingly built as a uniform scheme and then sold.
The late Georgian period saw the birth of the semi-detached house, planned systematically, as a suburban compromise between the terraced houses of the city and the detached "villas" further out, where land was cheaper. There had been occasional examples in town centres going back to medieval times. Most early suburban examples are large, and in what are now the outer fringes of Central London, but were then in areas being built up for the first time. Blackheath, Chalk Farm and St John's Wood are among the areas contesting being the original home of the semi. Sir John Summerson gave primacy to the Eyre Estate of St John's Wood. A plan for this exists dated 1794, where "the whole development consists of pairs of semi-detached houses, So far as I know, this is the first recorded scheme of the kind". In fact the French Wars put an end to this scheme, but when the development was finally built it retained the semi-detached form, "a revolution of striking significance and far-reaching effect".
Until the Church Building Act of 1818, the period saw relatively few churches built in Britain, which was already well-supplied, although in the later years of the period the demand for Non-conformist and Roman Catholic places of worship greatly increased. Anglican churches that were built were designed internally to allow maximum audibility, and visibility, for preaching, so the main nave was generally wider and shorter than in medieval plans, and often there were no side-aisles. Galleries were common in new churches. Especially in country parishes, the external appearance generally retained the familiar signifiers of a Gothic church, with a tower or spire, a large west front with one or more doors, and very large windows along the nave, but all with any ornament drawn from the classical vocabulary. Where funds permitted, a classical temple portico with columns and a pediment might be used at the west front. Decoration inside was very limited, but churches filled up with monuments to the prosperous.
In the colonies new churches were certainly required, and generally repeated similar formulae. British Non-conformist churches were often more classical in mood, and tended not to feel the need for a tower or steeple.
The archetypical Georgian church is St Martin-in-the-Fields in London (1720), by Gibbs, who boldly added to the classical temple façade at the west end a large steeple on top of a tower, set back slightly from the main frontage. This formula shocked purists and foreigners, but became accepted and was very widely copied, at home and in the colonies, for example at St Andrew's Church, Chennai in India.
The 1818 Act allocated some public money for new churches required to reflect changes in population, and a commission to allocate it. Building of Commissioners' churches gathered pace in the 1820s, and continued until the 1850s. The early churches, falling into the Georgian period, show a high proportion of Gothic Revival buildings, along with the classically inspired.
Public buildings generally varied between the extremes of plain boxes with grid windows and Italian Late Renaissance palaces, depending on budget. Somerset House in London, designed by Sir William Chambers in 1776 for government offices, was as magnificent as any country house, though never quite finished, as funds ran out. Barracks and other less prestigious buildings could be as functional as the mills and factories that were growing increasingly large by the end of the period. But as the period came to an end many commercial projects were becoming sufficiently large, and well-funded, to become "architectural in intention", rather than having their design left to the lesser class of "surveyors".
Georgian architecture was widely disseminated in the English colonies during the Georgian era. American buildings of the Georgian period were very often constructed of wood with clapboards; even columns were made of timber, framed up, and turned on an oversized lathe. At the start of the period the difficulties of obtaining and transporting brick or stone made them a common alternative only in the larger cities, or where they were obtainable locally. Dartmouth College, Harvard University, and the College of William and Mary, offer leading examples of Georgian architecture in the Americas.
Unlike the Baroque style that it replaced, which was mostly used for palaces and churches, and had little representation in the British colonies, simpler Georgian styles were widely used by the upper and middle classes. Perhaps the best remaining house is the pristine Hammond-Harwood House (1774) in Annapolis, Maryland, designed by the colonial architect William Buckland and modelled on the Villa Pisani at Montagnana, Italy as depicted in Andrea Palladio's I quattro libri dell'architettura ("Four Books of Architecture").
After about 1840, Georgian conventions were slowly abandoned as a number of revival styles, including Gothic Revival, that had originated in the Georgian period, developed and contested in Victorian architecture, and in the case of Gothic became better researched, and closer to their originals. Neoclassical architecture remained popular, and was the opponent of Gothic in the Battle of the Styles of the early Victorian period. In the United States the Federalist Style contained many elements of Georgian style, but incorporated revolutionary symbols.
In the early decades of the twentieth century when there was a growing nostalgia for its sense of order, the style was revived and adapted and in the United States came to be known as the Colonial Revival. In Canada the United Empire Loyalists embraced Georgian architecture as a sign of their fealty to Britain, and the Georgian style was dominant in the country for most of the first half of the 19th century. The Grange, for example, a manor built in Toronto, was built in 1817. In Montreal, English born architect John Ostell worked on a significant number of remarkable constructions in the Georgian style such as the Old Montreal Custom House and the Grand séminaire de Montréal.
The revived Georgian style that emerged in Britain at the beginning of the 20th century is usually referred to as Neo-Georgian; the work of Edwin Lutyens includes many examples. Versions of the Neo-Georgian style were commonly used in Britain for certain types of urban architecture until the late 1950s, Bradshaw Gass & Hope's Police Headquarters in Salford of 1958 being a good example. In both the United States and Britain, the Georgian style is still employed by architects like Quinlan Terry Julian Bicknell and Fairfax and Sammons for private residences.
Abbeville, formerly Abbeyville House, is an 18th-century country house in the townland of Abbeyville, civil parish of Kinsealy, Fingal within the traditional County Dublin, Ireland, best known as the home of Charles Haughey during his years as Taoiseach. The grounds contain streams, a pond and the site of a long-closed brewery.Abbott–Decou House
The Abbott–Decou House was built by Samuel Abbott in 1797 in what is now Hamilton Township, Mercer County, New Jersey. In 1888 it came into the possession of the DeCou family, whose matriarch, known locally as "Aunt Martha," had a considerable influence in local affairs. The house is considered a particularly fine example of 18th century Quaker Georgian architecture.Arkwright House, Preston
Arkwright House is in Stoneygate, Preston, Lancashire, England. The house was built in 1728, and was later expanded and restored. It is notable as the place in which Richard Arkwright and colleagues worked in 1768 to develop the water frame, a machine for spinning yarn. The house is an example of Georgian architecture, and is recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated Grade II* listed building.Caerwys Rectory
Caerwys Rectory is a late Georgian house in Caerwys, Flintshire in northeast Wales. It is a listed building. It is a 3-bay house of 2 storeys with an attic. In the 1920s a verandah and bay windows were added. Caerwys Rectory was the birthplace of the antiquary Angharad Llwyd (1780–1866), daughter of the rector John Llwyd (1733–93).Cliveden (Benjamin Chew House)
Cliveden ( KLIV-dən), also known as the Benjamin Chew House, is a historic mansion at 6401 Germantown Avenue in Germantown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was the scene of some of the bloodiest fighting of the Battle of Germantown, fought in 1777 during the American Revolutionary War.Colonial Revival architecture
Colonial Revival (also known as Neocolonial, Georgian Revival or Neo-Georgian) architecture was and is a nationalistic design movement in the United States and Canada, it seeks to revive elements of architectural style, garden design, and interior design of American colonial architecture.
The Centennial Exhibition of 1876 reawakened Americans to their colonial past. This movement gained momentum in the 1890s and was accelerated by the early 20th century due to the invention of the automobile, which expanded the ability of ordinary Americans to visit sites connected with their heritage.Successive waves of revivals of British colonial architecture have swept the United States since 1876. In the 19th century, Colonial Revival took a formal style. Public interest in the Colonial Revival style in the early 20th century helped popularize books and atmospheric photographs of Wallace Nutting showing scenes of New England. Historical attractions such as Colonial Williamsburg helped broaden exposure in the 1930s.
In the post-World War II era, Colonial design elements were merged with the then popular ranch-style house design. In the early part of the 21st century, certain regions of the United States embraced aspects of Anglo-Caribbean and British Empire styles.Duff House
Duff House is a Georgian estate house in Banff, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Now in the care of Historic Scotland, it is part of the National Galleries of Scotland and is a Category A listed building.The house is built of ashlar in three storeys to a square plan (9-bay x 8-bay) on a raised basement with advanced corner towers.
The house and the associated Fife gates, walled garden, Collie lodge, mausoleum, ice house, Bridge Gates House and the Eagles Gate lodge are designated as Category A listed group of buildings.George Washington Tomlinson House
George Washington Tomlinson House is a historic home located at Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana. It was built about 1862, and is a 1 1/2-story, center passage plan, double pile, frame dwelling with Greek Revival and Georgian style design elements. It is sheathed in clapboard siding, has a side gable roof, and four interior end chimneys. The house was moved to its present site in 1979.It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.Isaac Winslow House
The Isaac Winslow House, also known as the Winslow House Museum, is a mansion located in Marshfield, Massachusetts built around 1700. The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.Langham House, Ham
Langham House is a grade II-listed house facing Ham Common, London, built in about 1709 and former home of several notable residents.Leighton Hall, Lancashire
Leighton Hall is a historic house 0.5 miles (1 km) to the west of Yealand Conyers, Lancashire, England. It is recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated Grade II* listed building.Michael Sweetser House
The Michael Sweetser House is a historic house at 15 Nahant Street in Wakefield, Massachusetts. The 2.5 story timber-frame house was built c. 1755 by Michael Sweetser, an early settler of the area. It is traditionally Georgian in character, although its front door surround was added during Greek Revival period of the mid 19th century. One of the house's 19th century occupants was Paul Hart Sweetser, one of the founders of the Massachusetts Teachers Association and a locally active politician.The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.Nathaniel Cowdry House
The Nathaniel Cowdry House is a historic house at 71 Prospect Street in Wakefield, Massachusetts. Built about 1764, it is one of Wakefield's oldest buildings, built by a member of the locally prominent Cowdry family, who were early settlers. The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.Oley Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania
Oley Township is a township in Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States. As of the 2010 census, the township had a population of 3,620. Oley Township was originally formed in 1740 as a part of Philadelphia County, before Berks County was formed in 1752. The entire township was listed as a historic district by the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. Daniel Boone was born in Oley Township November 2, 1734.Regency architecture
Regency architecture encompasses classical buildings built in the United Kingdom during the Regency era in the early 19th century when George IV was Prince Regent, and also to earlier and later buildings following the same style. The period coincides with the Biedermeier style in the German-speaking lands, Federal style in the United States and the French Empire style. Regency style is also applied to interior design and decorative arts of the period, typified by elegant furniture and vertically striped wallpaper, and to styles of clothing; for men, as typified by the dandy Beau Brummell, for women the Empire silhouette.
The style is strictly the late phase of Georgian architecture, and follows closely on from the neo-classical style of the preceding years, which indeed continued to be produced throughout the period. The Georgian period takes its name from the four Kings George of the period 1714–1830, including King George IV. The British Regency strictly lasted only from 1811 to 1820, but the term is applied to architecture more widely, both before 1811 and after 1820; the next reign, of William IV from 1830 to 1837, has not been given its own stylistic descriptor. Regency architecture is especially distinctive in its houses, and also marked by an increase in the use of a range of eclectic "revival" styles, from Gothic through Greek to Indian, as alternatives to the main neoclassical stream.
The opening years of the style were marked by greatly reduced levels of building because of the Napoleonic Wars, which saw government spending on building eliminated, shortages of imported timber, and high taxes on other building materials. In 1810 there was a serious financial crisis, though the only major asset class not to lose value was houses, at least in London, mainly because the low level of recent building had created pent-up demand. After the decisive victory at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 ended the wars for good, there was a long financial boom amid greatly increased British self-confidence. Most Regency architecture comes from this period.Samuel Gould House
The Samuel Gould House is a historic house at 48 Meriam Street in Wakefield, Massachusetts. Built c. 1735, it is one of the oldest houses in Wakefield, and its only surviving period 1.5 story gambrel-roofed house. It was built by Samuel Gould, whose family came to the area in the late 17th century. It has had modest later alterations, including a Greek Revival door surround dating to the 1830s-1850s, a porch, and the second story gable dormers.The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.Shire Hall, Hertford
The Shire Hall in Hertford, the county town of Hertfordshire, England, is an 18th-century building. It was designed to provide assembly rooms, courts and a council chamber. It also housed the town's corn exchange until the mid-nineteenth century.
It was proposed as a joint project by Robert Adam and his younger brother James Adam, but James took charge of the commission and the design is credited to him. Built around 1768–9, the building was expanded several times in subsequent years.
It is a separate building to County Hall, a larger and more modern complex located further from the town centre.Stone Hill Historic District
Stone Hill Historic District is a national historic district in Baltimore, Maryland, United States. It is one of the original mill villages along the Jones Falls, having been developed circa 1845–1847 to house textile mill workers. Comprising seven blocks, the district includes 21 granite duplexes, a granite Superintendent's House, and a granite service building (now converted to a duplex) – all owned by Mount Vernon Mills from 1845 to 1925.It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2001.Voorhees Chapel (Rutgers)
Voorhees Chapel is one of two chapels on the campus of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey in New Brunswick, New Jersey in the United States. Built in 1925 with a donation from Elizabeth Rodman Voorhees, wife of Rutgers trustee Ralph Voorhees, the chapel once served the community of Douglass College. Douglass, founded the New Jersey College for Women (founded in 1918), was the women's residential college at Rutgers.
The chapel is an example of Georgian period Colonial Revival architecture in the tradition of English architect Sir Christopher Wren.
The chapel houses a large mechanical-action pipe organ built by Karl Schuke Berliner Orgelbauwerkstatt. The instrument has 3-manuals & pedals, 41 independent registers, 41 speaking stops, and 65 ranks.
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