Famous for restrained lines, proportion and symmetry, Georgian architecture dates back to the early 1700s. However, the style has never completely gone out of favour and Georgian style homes are still often built today.
What is Georgian architecture?
The term ‘Georgian Architecture’ refers to work completed from the period of August 1714 to June 1830, during the reigns of four British monarchs George I, George II, George III, and George IV. During this time, Georgian architecture came to prominence across Britain and continental Europe and was used for both public and private buildings.
Later, from the late 19th century, the style enjoyed a revival in the United States (where it came to be known as Colonial Revival Architecture and in Britain (where it was known as Neo-Georgian architecture).
What are the key characteristics of Georgian architecture?
Inspired by classical Greek and Roman architecture, the Georgian period was defined by restrained lines, proportion, and symmetry. Where embellishment was included, it was done so in a picturesque style.
Today, across Britain in cities like London, Newcastle upon Tyne, Edinburgh, and Bristol – and also abroad in Dublin and elsewhere – centuries after they were built, Georgian buildings still stand. However, the style was not confined to Britain and Ireland. Georgian buildings became popular both in Canada and the United States of America.
Here in Australia, Georgian architecture Australia dates as far back as 1814 (early in our history), when a Bristol-born architect Francis Greenway (a significant figure in Australian colonial architecture) was appointed the colony’s civil architect by Governor Lachlan Macquarie. From this time up until about the 1870’s many Australian buildings displayed the symmetry and uniformity of the Georgian style. Many Australian house styles 19th century, which are today viewed as classic style homes, are Georgian buildings.
Contemporary Georgian architecture - Georgian style homes Australia
Though generally not associated with new public building – whether you are in Britain, the US or Australia – it is not uncommon to find a newly-built Georgian house. A google search of Georgian style homes Melbourne is proof of this fact. Modern Georgian houses are formal, timeless, warm and inviting, particularly in terms of their Georgian façade, windows, bath, furniture, and so forth. If you want to build a Georgian house you don’t have to strictly follow all Georgian architecture characteristics or create a period house, but simply follow the themes of proportion and symmetry.
The top 7 examples of Georgian architecture
1. Houghton Hall, Norfolk UK
Designed by architects Colen Campbell, James Gibbs, and William Kent and completed in 1735, Houghton Hall was built as the country home of Robert Walpole, Britain's first prime minister. The house is situated on 1,000 acres of parkland, which is now home to deer. Apart from its impressive Georgian facade, the house itself features a large three-storey main block and two wings on the sides that are joined to the main block by colonnades. There are also domes on each corner of this Georgian mansion and colourful, ornate Georgian interiors.
2. Marble Hill, Twickenham
Designed by Henry Herbert and Roger Morris, Marble Hill’s first resident was Henrietta Howard, mistress of King George II before he became king. Completed in 1729, the house and gardens are located in Twickenham and were conceived as a retreat from the busy centre of London. Today, the house is owned by English Heritage and, among things, it is home to a collection of Georgian paintings. Its grounds now have cricket and rugby fields, tennis courts, playgrounds for children and hockey fields on them. They are known as Marble Hill Park.
3. House of Correction, Littledean, Gloucestershire
Designed by William Blackburn and completed in 1791, the House of Correction in Littledean was built as a type of role model for what modern prisons of the day could be. Indeed, London’s Pentonville Prison and the Philadelphian Cherry Hill Penitentiary System were modelled on the facility. Airy and light, today it is a museum that is “Home to the infamous Crime Through Time collection”. It carries a collection of crime and police memorabilia.
4. 10 Downing Street
A building that probably needs no description at all is No. 10 Downing St, home to the Prime Minister of the UK. No.10 was originally three separate buildings that were built between 1682 and 1684. Then, in 1733, it was renovated and enlarged and became home to the First Lord of the Treasury (Prime Minister) Robert Walpole. The No.10 door (its most recognisable feature) was installed in 1775. Its current resident is Boris Johnson.
5. Bedford Square
Built between 1776 and 1780 by architect Thomas Leverton, Bedford Square is a both a beautiful example of Georgian architecture and one of the first examples of a planned neighbourhood. The square was conceived as an upper middle class residential area and the building forms a perfect geometrical square. Today, Bedford Square is no longer a residential area. Instead, it is home to businesses and cultural institutions such as Southerby’s, Architecture Associates, Paul Mellon Centre, Yale University Press, and New College for Humanities.
6. Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh
The Royal Scottish Academy (originally known as the Royal Institution) was completed in 1826 and designed by William Henry Playfair. It features a large statue of Queen Victoria on its top, which was added in 1912 by sculptor William Thomas. However, the original plans involved erecting a statue of Pallas Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom. The Royal Scottish Academy is located adjacent to the National Gallery of Scotland.
7. Hyde Park Barracks - Georgian architecture Australia
Designed by Frances Greenway, this three-storey building was built to house as many as 1,400 convicts in colonial era Sydney. Made predominately of sandstone, its pedimented gable features a shaped stone panel containing an early colonial clock. Registered on the UNESCO World Heritage List for its historical significance, the building stands today as one of Sydney’s best-loved museums. It is a fine example of Georgian architecture Australia.