Whether you’re house hunting or watching property programmes on TV, it’s common to hear older buildings being described as Georgian, Victorian or Edwardian.

These are the three main types of ‘period’ houses, meaning those which were built before World War One. 

Although you may not find them in all homes, each era has its own tell-tale period features to look out for. See if you know which features belong to which period.

Common features of Georgian homes

Date: The Georgian period was between 1714 and 1830, when four King Georges in a row held the throne. 

The houses built during this time are typically elegant, formal and symmetrical and probably one of the most famous examples, is London’s 10 Downing Street. They are also the most in demand style of house in the UK [1].

Other typical features of Georgian houses include:

  • ‘Hipped’ roofs - meaning the roof slopes upward from all the sides of the building - these often have embellished cornices with decorative mouldings. 
  • Chimneys were often paired and located on both sides of the houses, reflecting the internal location of fireplaces.
  • Small back gardens with no front gardens and pathways. 
  • Townhouses may have three or four storeys.
  • Sash windows with multiple panes. These are taller on the first two floors and smaller windows on the top storeys.
  • Fan lights: the doors often have these above them - a curved or arched top window above the main entrance door - letting light into the hallway. 
  • Flat, shallow and squared roofs with small windows jutting from the eaves.  
  • Built with local materials: homes were usually made of brick or stone, as it was difficult to transport building material long distances before the railways. 

Common features of Victorian houses

Date: Victorian houses were built between 1837 and 1901, when Queen Victoria was on the throne. 

Today, they’re very common in villages, towns and cities and is probably the most common period house we see in the UK. [1]

The Victorian age saw the introduction of the modern terrace - with a living room at the front, and a kitchen at the back - to house the many people who moved into urban areas for jobs and a better life. 

Thanks to the arrival of plate glass in 1832, Victorian homes are also often light and bright with big bay or sash windows.

Some other features to look out for in Victorian homes include:

  • Iron railings: front iron railings and gates were popular in the Victorian era.
  • Barge boards – the inverted v-shaped fascias on the side of a roof - were popular.
  • Slate roofs, often with ridge tiles made of terracotta, and decorative wooden panels on the ends.
  • Tiled floors in the porch areas and hallway. 
  • Stained glass, with floral and geometric patterns, was popular in front door panels and at the tops of windows.
  • Many fireplaces, often with grates. Many have since been taken out or - as is often the case in bedrooms - are no longer working. 
  • Patterned bricks: Victorian houses often used what is known as Flemish Brick bond, laying bricks in such a way as to make patterns. 

Common features of Edwardian houses

Date: The Edwardian period was much briefer than the Georgian or Victorian eras, spanning just nine years from 1901 to 1910. But it did coincide with a housing boom, particularly in city suburbs.

Houses of the time are often influenced by the Arts and Crafts Movement, which represented a shift away from mass-production, towards using quality, local, handcrafted goods.

Edwardian building standards were a great improvement on those in the Victorian era and building materials including timber and bricks, were of a high standard.

Other typical features of Edwardian houses include:

  • Wide hallways: typically wider than the Victorian houses that came before them, and larger, brighter rooms.
  • Off road: Edwardian houses were set back from the road, to cater for a desire for privacy. This means they have front garden space (in addition to back gardens).
  • Chimneys are often halfway down the slope of the roof.
  • Steep roofs with gable ends, meaning there is often space for a loft conversion.
  • Glazed: the upper two-thirds of front doors were typically glazed.
  • Fireplace surrounds often have shelving, either above or below the mantelpiece, for ornaments and built-in mirrors.
  • Red brick: houses were often built with red bricks from the local brickworks.

While you can often spot tell-tale signs of the period a house was built in, there was also plenty of variety in each era. But some of the distinctive features of each age make it easy to fall in love with period properties.

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[1] https://www.housebeautiful.com/uk/lifestyle/property/a28618109/most-popular-property-style-uk/