Architecture: The Georgian Period (1714-1830)
Architects, history and style
The Georgian period succeeded the English Baroque of Sir Christopher Wren, Sir John Vanbrugh, Thomas Archer, William Talman, and Nicholas Hawksmoor. The architect James Gibbs was a transitional figure, many of his buildings having a hint of Italian Baroque, reflecting the time he spent in Rome in the early 18th century.
Major architects to promote the change in direction from baroque were Colen Campbell, author of the influential book Vitruvius Britannicus; 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 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 was added to the design repertory, the main exponents being William Wilkins and Robert Smirke. Their work dominates late Georgian architecture and 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. “Regular” was a term of approval, implying symmetry and adherence to classical rules: the lack of symmetry, where Georgian additions were added to earlier structures, was deeply felt as a flaw. Regularity of housefronts along a street was a desirable feature of Georgian town planning. Georgian designs usually lay within the Classical orders of architecture and employed a decorative vocabulary derived from ancient Rome or Greece.
The most common building materials used are brick or stone. Commonly used colors were red, tan, or white. However, modern day Georgian style homes use a variety of colors.
During the Georgian times, there was a heavy tax on windows, as England needed money for war. The number of windows you had was a sign of your wealth - poor people often only had one window per floor. Some people bricked up windows to avoid the tax.
Characteristics of Georgian houses often included:
- Pillars in the front of the house.
- Square symmetrical shape.
- A paneled front door in the centre
- Tiled hipped roofs (A roof which slopes upward from all the sides of a building.)
- The roof was often hidden behind a parapet, or low wall built around the edge of the roof.
- Fan light above the door.
- Paired chimneys.
- Sash windows (windows which slide up and down).
- The windows nearer the roof are smaller than the rest.