One of my pet subjects for a good dinner party chit-chat, is a discussion on the glories of London architecture. Among the very favourite, being the divine Regency years, of the Georgian period. It’s handy to know enough about these matters, to hold a pleasant conversation, but not to know so much, as to force the other dinner guests, to dash off early, with their petit fours untouched. (not really referring to you Rob…)
The Georgian period is roughly 1720 to 1840, Regency style towards the end – and there are some lovely examples all around London. Those places were built to last and is a testament to their design genius, that many of us, are still enjoying the privilege of living and working in them, today.
It’s usually easy to spot Georgian architecture, from its gracious proportions, simple clean lines and distinctive panelled windows. There are Georgian, terraced houses all around London, they were not just for the wealthy aristocrats, but would have been very desirable places to live in their day.
Over the years, many have been cleverly converted into flats, or offices, but still retain some of their original, majestic proportions, exquisite fireplaces and handmade staircases.
Some were not so lucky though, they were bombed and demolished after the second world war. Out of the surviving Georgian buildings, some fell into the hands of unscrupulous and shoddy freeholders who run them to the ground. This practice is a little bit more regulated today, buildings from the Regency period, would be ‘listed’, and therefore somewhat protected, from the stingy freeholder and property speculator. Freeholds were relatively cheap to buy, and a quick way for the exploitative low-life types, to cash in…It brings tears to my eyes, to see those ‘converted’ by blind architects in the 1980’s.
I love Georgian architecture- proportions mostly adhere with the famous ‘golden section’ (the mathematical proportions found in spiral galaxies and music, divine proportions…) and are absolutely the loveliest places to be, airy with lots of light and without the excessive wedding cake decorations that characterises the Victorian period that followed!
lady Sarah’s take on Georgian architecture:
To appreciate the grace of the period, one doesn’t need special training or an architect’s background. (sorry guys!) To create the grace, it’s an entirely different matter and it will take years of training, as well as talent. There is no substitute for talent… The easiest way to mess up is by altering the divine proportions, which is sadly, the first thing most people do. On the other hand, purists may feel that the architecture should remain untouched, but we need to find a contemporary role for older buildings. Everything to be left as a museum piece could in fact, kill London.
Londoners and admirers of all things Georgian would enjoy visiting Charles Dickens’s house, now converted into a museum. The house itself is a typical terraced house of the period and a fabulous example of late Georgian/early Victorian domestic interiors, fully furnished, with chairs, beds and even teapots! (Georgian Londoners were obsessed with tea.)
I often drop by Mr Dickens’s house, for some reviving afternoon tea & a little literary inspiration!
Charles Dickens Museum
48 Doughty Street,
London, WC1N 2LX
Check for opening times and special events here.
* SPECIAL CHRISTMAS Events * Dickens practically invented Christmas.