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Period Property

Victorian houses were built between 1837 and 1901 coinciding with the reign of  Queen Victoria. The Victorian Society  take ‘Victorian Architecture’ to encompass Edwardian as well, which extends the period to 1914. Edwardian housing similar in appearance often have the characteristics of low ceilings, a preference for red brick and stained glass in the front doors

The Victorian and Edwardian housing boom meant that areas surrounding the City of London were heavily dominated by this style. Hackney as a Borough to date has one of the highest concentrations of Victorian Housing across London.  To spot a house from the Victorian period they’re likely to have a number of distinguishable traits, although not all houses will have all of the following features one or more will be found in a property from this period:

Patterned bricks

The coming of the railways made it easier than ever to transport bricks around the country and patterned brick became popular. Victorian houses often used what is known as Flemish Brick bond, which consists of alternating headers (bricks whose end appears on the face of the wall) and stretchers (bricks whose long side appears on the face of the wall) along each course with the headers centred on the stretchers above and below.

Terraces

Victorian houses were built in terraces as more and more people moved to urban areas from the countryside. The kitchen is usually found at the back, with gardens to the front and rear.

Barge boards

Distinctive decorative wooden panels on the gable ends (triangular end section of a pitched roof) of buildings were popular in the Victorian period.

Decorated roof line and slates

Victorian houses commonly have slate roofs, again due to the new-found ease of getting building materials around by train. On the ridge (where two sides of a sloping or pitched roof meet) and gable ends they often have finials, a small carved ornament on the point. They also often have ridge tiles made of terracotta (unglazed or glazed fired clay, usually red in colour), which can be quite ornate.

Bay and sash windows

Plate glass arrived in 1832, so unlike the smaller 6-by-6 paned Georgian windows, Victorian windows had larger six and later four-paned vertical sliding sash windows with a single glazing bar down the middle. Three-sided bay windows, which are projecting windows with a flat front and slant sides, were fashionable. The ground floor bay window often had its own roof, or it continued into a first-floor bay, again topped with a roof.

Floor tiles

Victorian houses often have geometric terracotta floor tiles in the porch areas and through the ground floor. They were mainly of very natural colours such as red and brown, with dark blue, black and off-white also featuring.

Stained glass

Partly because of the Gothic revival, stained glass was popular in the Victorian period. Augustus Pugin’s revival of ‘mosaic’ stained glass, rather than painting directly onto the glass, created a distinct Victorian style. You can find it in doors and at the tops of windows.

Fireplace in every room

To keep the house warm (before advances in central heating) the household would have a fireplace, often with a grate, in every room. Surrounds could be stone, marble or wood. This means that Victorian houses also tend to have a lot of terracotta chimney pots.

Porches

Unlike in earlier building styles, the Victorians were fond of porches in front of the main door into their houses. Styles range from enclosed stone or brick porches to open and part glazed timber frame porches, which might also be of latticework (an open framework of strips with a crisscross pattern). The Victorians and Edwardians created elaborated designs with steep roofs, coped gables, carved kneelers (horizontal projecting stone at the base of each side of a gable to support the inclined coping stones) and finials.

Date stones

A lot of terraced houses have names and dates above the doors. This can be an excellent piece of evidence, although sometimes people put the date they made changes, moved in or got married, so once again it isn’t a hard-and-fast rule.

Victorian houses were built between 1837 and 1901 coinciding with the reign of  Queen Victoria. The Victorian Society  take ‘Victorian Architecture’ to encompass Edwardian as well, which extends the period to 1910. Edwardian housing similar in appearance often has the characteristics of low ceilings, a preference for red brick work and stained glass in the front doors.

The Victorian and Edwardian housing boom meant that areas surrounding the City of London were heavily dominated by this style. Hackney as a Borough to date has one of the highest concentrations of Victorian Housing across London.  To spot a house from the Victorian period they’re likely to have a number of distinguishable traits, although not all houses will have all of the following features, one or more will be found in a property from this period:

Patterned bricks

The coming of the railways made it easier than ever to transport bricks around the country and patterned brick became popular. Victorian houses often used what is known as Flemish Brick bond, which consists of alternating headers (bricks whose end appears on the face of the wall) and stretchers (bricks whose long side appears on the face of the wall) along each course with the headers centred on the stretchers above and below.

Terraces

Victorian houses were built in terraces as more and more people moved to urban areas from the countryside. The kitchen is usually found at the back, with gardens to the front and rear.

Barge boards

Distinctive decorative wooden panels on the gable ends (triangular end section of a pitched roof) of buildings were popular in the Victorian period.

Decorated roof line and slates

Victorian houses commonly have slate roofs, again due to the new-found ease of getting building materials around by train. On the ridge (where two sides of a sloping or pitched roof meet) and gable ends they often have finials, a small carved ornament on the point. They also often have ridge tiles made of terracotta (unglazed or glazed fired clay, usually red in colour), which can be quite ornate.

Bay and sash windows

Plate glass arrived in 1832, so unlike the smaller 6-by-6 paned Georgian windows, Victorian windows had larger six and later four-paned vertical sliding sash windows with a single glazing bar down the middle. Three-sided bay windows, which are projecting windows with a flat front and slant sides, were fashionable. The ground floor bay window often had its own roof, or it continued into a first-floor bay, again topped with a roof.

Floor tiles

Victorian houses often have geometric terracotta floor tiles in the porch areas and through the ground floor. They were mainly of very natural colours such as red and brown, with dark blue, black and off-white also featuring.

Stained glass

Partly because of the Gothic revival, stained glass was popular in the Victorian period. Augustus Pugin’s revival of ‘mosaic’ stained glass, rather than painting directly onto the glass, created a distinct Victorian style. You can find it in doors and at the tops of windows.

Fireplace in every room

To keep the house warm (before advances in central heating) the household would have a fireplace, often with a grate, in every room. Surrounds could be stone, marble or wood. This means that Victorian houses also tend to have a lot of terracotta chimney pots.

Porches

Unlike in earlier building styles, the Victorians were fond of porches in front of the main door into their houses. Styles range from enclosed stone or brick porches to open and part glazed timber frame porches, which might also be of latticework (an open framework of strips with a crisscross pattern). The Victorians and Edwardians created elaborated designs with steep roofs, coped gables, carved kneelers (horizontal projecting stone at the base of each side of a gable to support the inclined coping stones) and finials.

Date stones


A lot of terraced houses have names and dates above the doors. This can be an excellent piece of evidence, although sometimes people put the date they made changes, moved in or got married, so once again it isn’t a hard-and-fast rule.

Armed with this checklist you should now be able to recognise the Victorian houses in your neighbourhood! 

Jayson Kent

30.03.18

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