What are the Differences Between a Victorian and an Edwardian House?

One of the reasons there are so many Victorian properties found throughout the UK is that this period in British history coincided with the industrial revolution and the peak of the British Empire, which was reflected in wealth in the homeland. Migration to the towns and cities to work in factories and mills required housing,…

H owever, Victorian architecture is not all about streets of red brick terraces, there were grander properties built to reflect the wealth of their owners, but all share a common style. Queen Victoria reigned from 1830 to 1901, followed by King Edward VII’s shorter reign from 1901 to 1910. Both monarchs gave their name to the era they reigned over and this collective period of nearly a century saw a huge increase in housebuilding with different styles reflecting the changing times and moving demographics. So, what are the characteristics of Victorian property?

The Detail of Victorian Architecture

The Victorians were fond of their porches, and these can be open or closed in stone or brick, depending on the size of the house and its location. Ornate gables and carvings were not uncommon on properties owned by middle-class families. Stained glass doorways were also a very distinctive Victorian feature following the example set by the famous architect of the time, Augustus Pugin, and his Gothic Revival style with heavy religious overtones.

Brick was the material of choice for construction, made easier and more widespread by the development of the railways and often laid in decorative patterns. Slate is the most common roofing material on a Victorian property, and the homes of the wealthy would feature terracotta ridge tiles and finials, sometimes with carved ornaments on the point. Ornate gable trim often comprised decorative wooden barge boards on the gable ends.

The roofs on Victorian properties tend to have a steep pitch, and inside the house, there are typically high ceilings with elaborate moulding and ornate decoration, including intricately designed ceiling roses. A fireplace in every room was the order of the day, and the quality of the surround reflected the size and grandeur of the property. Tiled or marbled fireplaces were a popular feature with those distinctive terracotta chimney pots on the roof.

From a window perspective, Victorian houses are almost always fitted with two over two-panel sash windows with a single astragal bar on each sash, a departure from Georgian architecture where sash windows had multiple smaller panes. Many Victorian houses have bay windows in either circular or rectangular styles and sometimes on both floors. Often, bay windows on the ground floor have their own roofs.

Some windows have decorative stained-glass features and sash horns. Sash horns protrude in a downward direction from the bottom of the upper sash. There are lots of different types depending on the architecture of the house, and they are considered a valued detail by homeowners and are replicated on new timber replacements. Sash window horns originally strengthened the structure of the window and supported the mortice and tenon joints as the glazing bars diminished in number and the fashion for larger glass panes developed.

What Changed in the Edwardian Era?

Compared to the length of the Victorian period, the Edwardian era was just a flash in the pan, but what is significant, is that Britain was at the peak of its influence in world affairs before the gradual decline of the Empire and the start of the Second World War.

Edwardian architecture borrowed heavily from other periods and also reflected the fact that times were really beginning to change in terms of the social demographic. The middle classes moved out of the city into the suburbs, where comfortable villas with large gardens were built. Depending on where you look, Edwardian houses can exhibit mock Tudor cladding, some Georgian revival elements and six over two-panel sash windows, which also hark back to an earlier time. Of course, the Arts and Crafts movement also had an impact which re-connected with a softer, more rural existence pre-dating the industrial revolution.

Regional Differences

The availability of materials creates regional variations in what Victorian and Edwardian properties look like, In the west country, Victorian houses were often built of stone, whereas in the industrial cities, they tended to be constructed from red brick. Slate roofs are a common feature regardless of location, reflecting the plentiful supply and the ability to move slate around the country because of the railways. Even in large, industrial cities, Victorian red brick rows will usually have slate roofs.

We manufacture timber casement and sash windows as part of our restoration service for period properties. We also fit new windows into contemporary properties with an almost limitless range of sizes and shapes. Our restoration service can refurbish old windows on-site or in our workshops, allowing us to marry traditional craftsmanship with modern techniques. We produce classic heritage windows that benefit from 21st-century draughtproofing, thermal regulation and acoustic control.

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