Victorian house: Wikis


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Typical Victorian terraced houses in England, built in brick with slate roofs, stone details and modest decoration.

In the United Kingdom, and former British colonies, a Victorian house generally means any house built during the reign of Queen Victoria. During the Industrial Revolution successive housing booms resulted in the building of many millions of Victorian houses which are now a defining feature of most British towns and cities[1].

In the UK, Victorian houses follow a wide range of architectural styles. Starting from the early classicism inherited from regency architecture, the Italianate style gained influence in the 1840s and 1850s, and the Gothic style became prevalent by the 1880s. Later in the Victorian era, the Queen Anne style and the Arts and Crafts movement increased in influence, resulting in the transition to styles typically seen in Edwardian houses. Victorian houses are also found in many former British colonies where the style might be adapted to local building materials or customs, for example in Sydney, Australia and Melaka, Malaysia.

In the United States, Victorian house styles include Second Empire, Queen Anne, Stick (and Eastlake Stick), Shingle-style, Richardsonian Romanesque, and others.[2].


Victorian houses in Great Britain

Early in the Victorian era, until the 1840s houses were still influenced by the classicism of Regency styles. However the simplicity of Regency classicism fell out of favour as affluence increased and by the 1850s the Italianate style influenced domestic architecture which now incorporated varying quantities of stucco. From the 1850s domestic buildings also became increasingly influenced by the gothic revival, incorporating features such as pointed, projecting porches, bay windows, and grey slate [3].


Typical features

In addition to general architectural influences, this progressive change in style resulted from several other factors. In the 1850s, the abolition of tax on glass and bricks made these items cheaper and the coming of the railway allowed them to be manufactured elsewhere, at low cost and to standard sizes and methods, and brought to site. There was also progressive introduction from the 1850s of various building regulations[1]. There are a number of common themes in Victorian housing[1]:

  • Sanitation : regulations were introduced progressively from the 1850s to raise the importance of sanitation features, including correct drainage, waste facilities (the "ash pit" or "dust bin"), and toilet facilities either in the form of an outside privy or inside water closet.
  • Hot and cold water At the start of the Victorian era, some houses had running tap water and a boiler for hot water. By the turn of the century, hot and cold running water were a common feature.
  • Lighting powered by gas was available in many towns from the start of the Victorian era. By the end of the Victorian era, many houses had either gas or electric lighting.
  • A basement with a cellar for the storage of coal, required for open fires and to heat water.
  • Sash windows but with larger panes of glass, from the 1850s, than the characteristic 6 plus 6 smaller panes seen in Georgian and Regency architecture.
  • Victorian houses were generally built in terraces or as detached houses.
  • Building materials were brick or local stone. Bricks were made in factories some distance away, to standard sizes, rather than the earlier practice of digging clay locally and making bricks on site[1].
  • The majority of houses were roofed with slate, quarried mainly in Wales and carried by rail. The clay tiles used in some houses would be available locally.

Houses for all classes

In Victorian times, population growth, and the Industrial Revolution which saw a migration of workers from the countryside to the cities, resulted in successive housing booms in the 1850s and 1870s that saw the creation of millions of houses. These catered not only for the rich and the new "middling-classes" but also for the poor.

In deprived areas, Victorian houses were often very small, for example, Back-to-back houses built in extremely cramped conditions. Some of these areas became slums or 'rookeries', and were later cleared. Some smaller, Two-up Two-down houses still survive, for example in Salford, Greater Manchester.

Victorian houses for the middle classes and upwards tended to have accommodation for servants, often employed to carry out the considerable labour required to keep the house, including its fireplaces clean and well stocked.[1].

Victorian houses of the middle and upper classes aspired to follow the purest forms of contemporary architecture, for example, the Gothic or Queen Anne styles.

Great houses

The Victorian era, together with the Edwardian era was the last sustained period in which great houses were built in large numbers[4]. Many of these harked back to earlier periods of english architecture, for example:

Victorian houses in North America

Queen Anne style: Carson Mansion, California
Painted ladies near Alamo Square Multi-colored Victorian era houses in San Francisco are known as Painted Ladies.

Victorian-era homes can be one, two, or three stories high, with the homes in Eastern US cities tending to be three stories and homes in Western US cities more typically two-story homes or one-story cottages. In some regions of the country, but is not representative of a typical Victorian era-home in all regions.

Although the general public often incorrectly refers to a Victorian era house as a Victorian "style" house, Victorian era refers to a time period and not to a style. Although architectural historians generally agree that there are about eight primary architectural styles prominent in the United States and Canada during the Victorian era, Victorian-era residential architecture in the United States and Canada was a procession of styles borrowed from every country and every era in history.[citation needed]

Victorian houses in Australia

The Abbey, Annandale, New South Wales (Free Gothic)

In Australia, the Victorian period is generally recognised as going from 1840 to 1890. There were fifteen styles that predominated, of which the following eight were used for homes:[5]

  • Victorian Georgian
  • Victorian Regency
  • Filigree
  • Italianate
  • Tudor
  • Free Gothic
  • Rustic Gothic
  • Free Classical

(The Arts and Crafts style and Queen Anne style are placed in the Federation Period, from 1890 to 1915.)[6]


See also


  1. ^ a b c d e Marshall, John; Willox, Ian (1986). The Victorian House. London: Sidgwick and Jackson Limited. ISBN 0283993634. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Quiney, Anthony (1989). Period Houses, a guide to authentic architectural features. London: George Phillip. ISBN 0540011738. 
  4. ^ Pragnall, Hubert (1984). Styles of English Architecture. Frome: Batsford. ISBN 0713437685. 
  5. ^ A Pictorial Guide to Identifying Australian Architecture, Apperly (Angus and Robertson) 1994, pp.40-97
  6. ^ A Pictorial Guide to Identifying Australian Architecture, pp.132-143

Further reading

  • Larsen, Michael; Elizabeth Pomada, Photographs by Douglas Keister (1987). Daughters of Painted Ladies: America's Resplendent Victorians. New York: E. P. Dutton. ISBN 0-525-48337-3. 

External links


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