Kaley Tyne Johnson: The Evolution of British House Styles

by | Aug 26, 2022 | Home

With an avid interest in architecture, Kaley Tyne Johnson is an interior designer who travels all over the world as part of her job, particularly Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. This article will focus on British house styles, identifying how they have evolved through the ages.

An Englishman’s home is his castle, or so the saying goes. There is no doubt that the United Kingdom has a rich architectural history. From thatched Tudor cottages right through to the Arts and Crafts Movement, there has been a continual evolution of architectural styles since the 1400s.

Tudor Houses

Britain was effectively cut off from the architectural fashions of Europe after King Henry VIII founded the Church of England. As a result, the rebirth of classical architecture and art that flourished throughout France and Italy had little impact on British housing in the 16th century.

Characterized by their exposed timber frames and thatched roofs, Tudor houses were constructed with functionality in mind. Homes of the era did not exhibit much in the way of embellishments; however, there were some exceptions, with close studding with tightly set vertical timbers denoting wealth in the east and south of England. Meanwhile, in the west and the north, small square panels featuring decorative patterns were also popular status symbols of the time.

Stuart Houses

Unlike King Henry VIII, the Stuart kings had distinctly Catholic leanings, making them more receptive to European architectural fashions. Inigo Jones was the first architect to apply this style to Royal buildings, but it was not until 1660 that the style really took off with the general public.

While timber-framed homes remained popular with merchants and farmers, particularly those residing in rural settings, homes of the well-to-do in eastern and southern counties were increasingly built of brick and stone throughout the Stuart era.

Georgian Houses

The 18th century saw the beginnings of both the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions in the United Kingdom, triggering the rise of a new middle class, with considerable expansion throughout London and the building of a new style of homes.

Based upon the designs of the 16th century Italian architect Andrea Palladio, the Palladian style home incorporated symmetrical facades as well as Greek motifs: a reference to Ancient Greek buildings discovered around this time. The Georgian era is characterized by its refined, elegant buildings devoid of lavish decoration.

Victorian Houses

The industrial revolution triggered a complete transformation in the way British people lived their lives. In response, John Ruskin and Augustus Pugin were leading lights in terms of promoting the Gothic Revival style in domestic architecture.

Frequently considered a defining attribute of British architecture, the vast majority of Victorian homes were created to house a working population, often consisting of characteristic terraces of red brick houses.

Queen Anne Houses

Following an era of busy patterns and pointed arches, appetite for the Gothic Revival style started to wane. Rather than looking to medieval churches, architects of the day began to emulate the style of manor houses and old farmhouses from the 17th century.

Architect Richard Norman Shaw is widely credited with popularizing the Queen Ann style, based on Dutch-style buildings that were popular in some parts of Britain in the early 18th century. There was a strong resurgence in Dutch gables, timber hoods over doors, and windows with glazing bars. Typically constructed from red brick, window frames and timber were usually painted white, and terracotta panels and tiles were popular features.

Edwardian Homes

During this period, the Baroque style of the late 1600s made a resurgence and was adapted for public buildings and grand houses.

As many began to eschew the mass-produced goods of the industrial age, traditional forms of craftsmanship were revived. During this period, the Arts and Crafts Movement drove a rise in vernacular architecture, with hanging tiles, pebbledash, and timber framing as common features in many Edwardian houses. Meanwhile, while still colorful and decorative, the exterior of Edwardian homes were generally more subdued than their Victorian predecessors.

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