Make Yourself at Home in a Georgian Town House
|Terrace Homes facing the street in Ashbourn|
The design of these houses varied little regardless of their location. Though the exterior facades might feature local stone or brick, stucco or fancy ornamentation, the essential structures remained uniform.
Although primarily designed as residences, Georgian terraces built along main urban thoroughfares often incorporated ground-floor shops with residences in the upper stories.
History of Terrace Houses
|Historic Town home|
The initial 1667 Act required brick or stone to be used for all external and party walls, eliminating the typical timber fronts of the Tudor and early Stuart houses. The 1707 Act eliminated thick timber cornices. The 1709 Act required window frames be set back behind the building line. The 1774 Act required the use of stone or brick, specified street width, the size and layout of the houses, floor to ceiling heights and controlled decoration on facades even more rigidly. It also divided terrace houses into four classes.
At the bottom of the scale, fourth rate houses, were those built in large numbers by speculative developers from the late eighteenth century in response to industrial development in towns like Liverpool and Manchester. These houses were often built back-to-back in tiny yards pressed behind street frontages, standing in yards and courts, apart from easy street access. They were worth less than £150 per year in rent and occupied less than 350 square feet of land, often standing only three stories instead of four.
|First, Second and Fourth rate Town Homes|
Second rate houses faced streets, notable lanes, and the River Thames. They were worth between £350 and £850 in ground rent and had an exterior foot print of 500-900 square feet.
Third rate houses faced principal streets, rented for £150-£300 and occupied 350-500 square feet ground space.
Terrace House Design
|Floor plan of very large Belgravian town home, from The Gentleman's House.|
A warren of offices might be housed in the basement. These rooms might include
- the scullery-a small room for washing and storing dishes and kitchen equipment)
- pantry and larder for food storage
- butler's pantry and quarters
- safe, and cleaning-room for the silver
- still-room for drying and preparing foods and herbs for storage, medicinal formulations, soap, ect
- servants'-hall where servants might eat and socialize
- a wine-cellar
- closet for beer;
- laundry and housemaid's-closet for linen storage
- quarters for housekeeper, cook and possibly men-servants
- vaults for coals and dust
A lift, also called a dumbwaiter, might be employed to bring food and other items up from the basement to the principle floors of the house. The lift could be located in a back stair well rather than opening directly into a room of the house.
Drawing rooms were a place near the front door for accessibility in greeting visitors. The women of the house and their female guests would also use the drawing room as a place to retreat after dinner, so they would be near the dining room as well. Drawing rooms were often the most elaborately decorated room in the house and usually very feminine in style.
The more modestly appointed parlor was a private room for the family’s enjoyment.This room might be on either the ground or first floor.
In large houses, the ground floor might also house an entrance hall, cloak-room, storage closet, and library or office. These would be more likely to face the street side of the house since guests would not spend time in those rooms.
The First Floor
Furnishings and other decor on this floor would be the most elaborate and expensive in the house, positioned to impress visitors.
The Second Floor
Even though there was a great deal of similarity between the terraced homes, the differences were important reflections of the wealth and status of the occupants of these home.
ReferencesCharacteristics of the Georgian Town House
The Ideal House
Kerr, Robert. The Gentleman's House (1871, 3ed.)
Lane, Maggie. Jane Austen and Food. Hambledon (1995)
Le Faye, Deirdre. Jane Austen: The World of Her Novels. Harry N. Abrams (2002)
Parissien, Steven. Regency Style. Phaidon Press Limited (2000)
Sabor, Peter (editor). The Cambridge Edition of the Juvenilia. Cambridge University Press (2006)
Spencer-Churchill, Henrietta. Classic Georgian Style. Collins & Brown (1997)
Summerson, John. Georgian London. Yale University Press (2003) Town Houses
Yorke, Trevor. Georgian & Regency Houses Explained. Countryside Books (2007)
Yorke, Trevor. Regency House Styles. Countryside Books (2013)
Darcy's Decision, The Future Mrs. Darcy and All the Appearance of Goodness and Twelfth Night at Longbourn. Click here to find her books on Amazon. For more on her writing and other Random Bits of Fascination, visit her website. You can also like her on Facebook, follow on Twitter or email her.