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Victorian terrace houses in stucco and "london stock" yellow brick, incorporating gothic features such as pointed, grey slate rooves, bay windows and projecting porches

In the United Kingdommarker, and former British colonies, the term Victorian house generally refers to 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.

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 Sydneymarker, Australia and Melakamarker, Malaysiamarker.

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

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 .

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.

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. There are a number of common themes in Victorian housing:

  • 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.

And in common with earlier houses:
  • A basement with a cellar for the storage of coal required to heat space and water.
  • Sash windows but with larger panes of glass, from the 1850s, than the characteristic 6 + 6 smaller panes seen in Georgian and Regency architecture.
  • Victorian houses were generally built in terraces or as detached houses.
  • Victorian houses were generally built of brick or local stone, rooved with slate or clay tiles. In contrast to the first half of the 19th century, bricks were now manfuactured in factories some distance away, to standard sizes, rather than clay being dug, made into bricks and fired on or close to the building site.

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, Lancashiremarker.

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..

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

Victorian houses in the United States

An early Victorian "Carson Mansion Eureka "(California)

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 Statesmarker and Canadamarker 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.


An example of "Painted Ladies."
Multi-colored Victorian era houses in San Franciscomarker are known as Painted Ladiesmarker.

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