What Is Georgian Architecture?
The Georgian era relates to the reigns of Georges I to IV from 1714 to 1830, and was a particularly exciting one for architecture.
Influenced by the classical architecture of ancient Greece and Rome, the Georgian style of classical proportions and symmetry, and its more flamboyant Regency variant, are still popular today.
There are Georgian buildings all over England, but here are some particularly great examples of Georgian architecture from around the country:
Any Georgian architecture list has to start with Bath.
It underwent significant development in the early 1800s, at the height of the Georgian building boom. Indeed Bath resident Jane Austen mentioned the amount of building works in Bath in several of her novels.
The resulting streetscape of golden stone-built crescents and boulevards has been a magnet for visitors and tourists ever since.
If you get the chance to visit, make sure you take in the Circus, Pulteney Bridge, Assembly Rooms and the majestic Royal Crescent, all built in Georgian times.
Cheltenham is a pretty town in Gloucestershire, just outside the Cotswolds.
It was lucky to become popular in Georgian times due to the discovery of spa waters thought to be good for health. (They’re actually foul-smelling and disgusting to taste – but perhaps they’re still good for you).
But the best example of Georgian architecture in Cheltenham is just outside the
city centre in the suburb of Pittville.
The suburb was designed and built by Joseph Pitt to serve many of the town’s
visitors wishing to sample the spa waters. It includes Pittville Park, a lovely estate of rolling parkland, lakes and woodland (worth a visit in itself).
The Park’s centrepiece is the opulent Pittville Pump Room, a magnificent spa
building set in rolling parkland, The exterior is magnificent, but its interior is on
Visitors are treated to a gorgeous classical dome, a terrace for music concerts and
the centrepieces, a marble pump servicing spa waters to the spa’s clientele.
After a visit from the Prince of Wales in 1788, Cheltenham became the fashionable place to take the waters, and the town started to boom and expand.
Hence many of its streets and public buildings were built in the Georgian Era. Like Bath it has a Royal Crescent and several streets lined with Georgian townhouses. The Montpellier area is particularly well stocked with these lovely examples of the mainly Regency style.
Regent Street, London
What better example of Regency architecture than that found on the street named after the Regent.
The area in what is now the West End was developed by Prince George, Regent and the future George IV. It’s packed with gorgeous Georgian architecture (and, of course, Regents Park). Regents Street is its most stunning example, however.
Architect John Nash designed the thoroughfare which sweeps in a gentle curve from Oxford Circus to Piccadilly Circus, and then south to Waterloo Place in St James’.
The street is now a part of London’s West End shopping scene and is filled with shops from the usual high street stores, to iconic upmarket department stores. Hamley’s, the oldest toy store in London is on Regents Street, as is the Liberty
None of this retail activity detracts, however, from the splendour of the buildings in which the stores are housed.
New Town, Edinburgh
Yes, we know Edinburgh is in Scotland not England, but we had to include this excellent example of a planned Georgian townscape.
In 1766 a competition was held to build on the site directly facing the ‘Old Town’, dominated by Edinburgh Castle. The competition was won by 26 year old James Craig.
Streets of townhouses, crescents, terraces, and other Georgian architecture mainstays, based on Craig’s original design, were soon being built.
Unlike the granite-coloured Old Town this ‘New’ Town was built of sandstone giving it a golden, lighter, colour. It’s now one of the most popular (and expensive) places to live in Edinburgh.
Belgravia is another planned townscape in London, this time by the architect Thomas Cubitt for the Grosvenor family.
It’s slightly different to previous examples, however, being of the late Georgian style.
This tended to be less austere than earlier Georgian architecture and was characterised by a greater use of columns and other ‘neoclassical’ features, and the use of stucco.
This cement-based mixture was used to cover the brick exteriors of houses – often colouring them white or cream. Belgravia is a great example of this style.
The Grosvenor Estate is still largely intact and owned by the Grosvenor family, who were elevated to be hereditary Dukes of Westminster by Queen Victoria.
The present Duke of Westminster, Hugh Grosvenor, is one of the richest people in the world – much richer than the Queen – due solely to the ownership of this exclusive estate.
It retains its charm, but also its exclusivity. Belgravia is still one of the most expensive places in London.