On a walk through any town in Britain and many in the U.S. and elsewhere, you could encounter homes from the Georgian, Tudor and Edwardian eras, to name just three. It can often be difficult to distinguish one period from another. Victorian architecture makes up a large proportion of those buildings. Here’s how to distinguish Victorian homes from the rest, and the design elements that make up their distinctive style today.
What: Victorian architecture — buildings constructed during the reign of Queen Victoria
When: 1837 to 1901
Main type: Terraced housing, generally built to accommodate workers moving to cities to work in factories
The Victorian era is the period in which Queen Victoria ruled Britain, from 1837 to 1901. Following the industrial revolution, which began around 1760 and lasted until about 1840, production methods and manufacturing processes had changed greatly. The beginning of the railways meant that building materials that would previously only have been available to those in the local area were now available countrywide.
People flocked to the towns looking for work. “The explosion of the property market happened in the Victorian era, so they were forced to mass produce homes to accommodate all of the workers,” says Hugo Tugman of Architect Your Home.
A small, hidden kitchen. Kitchens were considered to be the territory of servants for the wealthy, and would certainly not have been on display to the public in smaller homes. Beyond the main house was what is called a rear projection, or outrigger, which housed the kitchen, the pantry and, historically, an outside toilet.
“The only rooms to be presented to the public were the formal reception rooms. That’s probably one of the biggest differences between an original Victorian property built in the 19th century and one now: things like cooking were certainly not something on show to friends and guests,” says Martyn Clarke of Martyn Clarke Architecture. The rear projections were often more than 20 feet long, and can be extended sideways today to create around 430 square feet of space.