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Victorian Houses : Revival Style Homes

Victorian style homes and houses with description of their characteristics and the major historical revival type houses.

The Break up of Tradition

The nineteenth century was in the main a century of revivals of past styles of architecture, and was remarkable for the break-up of tradition, due in large measure to the prevailing freedom of thought and desire to evade the restraint of authority.

In the early part of the century the traditional Georgian art was in vogue, but this gave way to the Greek, Gothic (Tudor) and Elizabethan styles, which were employed successively and indiscriminately in domestic architecture, and resulted in the great confusion known as the Battle of the Styles, mirrored in the area of early Victorian furniture, in which classic principles, based on regularity, stateliness and balance of parts, were opposed to the Gothic principles based on irregularity, unfettered freedom and convenience.

Victorian Greek Revival Houses

During the years A.D. 1750-1825, Homer and the Greek authors usurped the pedestals of the Latin authors, which had held sway since the Renaissance. This produced an enthusiasm for Greek literature and art, which was emphasized by the publication of Stuart and Revett's Antiquities of Athens and other works. The importation (1801-3) of the Elgin Marbles from the Parthenon at Athens also assisted in this direction.

The Greek Revival, however, had little or no effect on the planning of domestic buildings, for not even the fervour of the Revivalists could make people bold enough to adopt the Pompeian classical type of plan.

Frequent sacrifices of convenience were, however, still demanded, in order to comply with that general principle of regularity which was required, especially in the larger houses, which were still provided with small wings for extra accommodation.

Domestic offices were still in the basement, but were eventually brought to the ground floor, even when the basement was retained for cellar purposes.

The villas of Regent's Park, London, by Nash, are familiar examples, and some of them are on quite a large scale, although executed with stucco-faced walls which have been held up to scorn.

The Gothic (Tudor) Revival

The changes of politics and the cessation of the land and sea wars that had engaged the forces of Europe from 1789-1815 tended to bring about a change in the ideas of Europeans between the years 1815 and 1850.

The study of the Middle Ages, owing to the writings of Sir Walter Scott, Goethe and Victor Hugo, became fashionable, and this helped to produce the Gothic Revival in art, which was aided, in A.D. 1819, by Rickman's "Attempt to discriminate the Gothic styles", the writings of Pugin, Brandon, Britton and others also helped forward the movement.

In the first instance, the revival seems to have been brought about by a desire to produce the decorative treatment of the Gothic style, but the chief reason which caused the Tudor style to be used was its adaptability of plan to modern requirements.

Attention was also ably drawn to the Gothic period by Sir Charles Barry's designs for the Houses of Parliament, in which a stately classic plan was clothed with a Tudor dress.

The Elizabethan Revival

A somewhat later phase, still on the same lines as regards the plan, was the Elizabethan1 revival which was a reversion to an eminently useful and national type of art.

This revival answered the practical requirements of everyday life, in which convenience entirely governed the design, and symmetry was not considered essential, except so far as it resulted from the requirements of the plan, which still, however, continued in many instances to follow the old Georgian type.

Victorian Style Houses

To attempt, however, to enumerate even a selection of the types of houses erected during the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries would, of course, be impossible. The principles of plan as now established lay great stress on the hygienic distribution of the various apartments and the special attention given to sanitary requirements.

The convenience and completeness of the domestic departments, due, no doubt, to the servant problem also form a conspicuous motif in modern house plans.

In whatever style - Greek, Gothic or Renaissance the architect works, he should use it in an eclectic manner so as to answer the requirements of his client, and he should not be fettered by style, if it does not coincide with convenience.

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