Buying a Victorian property

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Buying a Victorian house means living in a property that was built at the very apex of the British Empire – a time when comfort and style were of paramount importance to the wealthy individual. The eclectic mix of Victorian building styles that emerged in this iconic era can make any such purchase today an exciting and tricky affair.

It is a chance to buy a property with unique features, superior in many ways to today’s modern housing. In this article we will take a look at Victorian architecture´s main influences, the differing styles that resulted, how to spot an authentic Victorian property and how to maintain or improve upon that unique Victorian look.

The Victorian Era in Britain

The Victorian era in Britain lasted some 64 years, covering the reign of Queen Victoria from 1837 to 1901. In terms of change and modernisation, it was perhaps the most radical period in British history to date. When Queen Victoria came to power, Britain was an agrarian, rural society. By the time she died, Britain was a highly industrialised world power connected internally by an extensive railway network and overseas by a seaborne empire.

Emerging Victorian philosophical concepts converged to produce a number of contradictory building styles which reflected any one or a combination of new values and aspirations. The vast amount of money flowing into Britain from the colonies abroad and that being generated by emergent industrialisation saw massive amounts of building work undertaken and much of this was excess to demand.

Spare money was often poured into frivolous ornamentation – its is from here that the phrase a man´s home is his castle harks. The result for Victorian house styles? More religious influences and an array of architectural philosophies such as Mock Tudor, Gothic Revival, Queen Anne, Tudorbeathen and the all famous Arts and Crafts Movement.

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Differing Victorian House Styles

The Victorian era saw the emergence of a great of variety of building styles. Such diversity can lead to some confusion over what exactly is classed as a Victorian property. A Victorian property, officially speaking, is anything built during the reign of Queen Victoria, although often we use the term to refer to many houses built in the same style as a house dating from that period. Such historical details are of little use when home hunting, however, so lets take a look at the main types of Victorian architecture and how to visually identify them.The Arts and Crafts Movement

The Arts and Crafts Movement came about late in the Victorian era as a reaction against the soulless industrialisation of the British workforce. It sought to replace the mundane and evil machine with an idealised past via the endorsement of specialised craftsmen, hand painted ornamentation and human personality in design, espousing quality over quantity. The resulting Victorian houses emphasised natural materials and recalled medieval cottages with sloping roofs, small windows and expansive gardens. Red House in Bexleyheath London is a perfect example.

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