Architecture In regency england

Motivations for the Project

This undertaking is largely due to the fact that it has been required of me in order to earn a passing grade in my junior British Literature class, but that, by no means, is my only interest. The book of concern in the past few weeks of the course, Pride and Prejudice, has, without a doubt, showcased a comedic yet highly-intriguing perspective on living in society that I have much to relate to and learn from.

Thus, it is partly due to my interest in the book that I chose to spend my time to really make this a worthwhile project. However, there is yet another underlying reason for my undertaking—and that is my long-held interest in architecture and perhaps one day becoming worthy of the title "architect."

Architecture is when you carefully put two bricks together. There it begins.

My only hope is that by the time you, whoever you may be, scroll to the end of this page, I will have gotten an A on my project, you have obtained some basic information regarding Regency Era Architecture, and I will have furthered my understanding of humans and society by a few more inches.

Apparently "Duma i uprzedzenie" means "Pride and Prejudice" in Polish [courtesy of the every-reputable Google Translate]

Introduction to the Concept

This page is designed to give the reader a basic overview of the subject of interest, Regency Era architectonics, establish the context in which this particular style of design flowered, introduce the reader to some basic technical concepts in architecture, and relate those findings to life in Jane Austen's novel Pride and Prejudice.

Architecture should speak of its time and place, but yearn for timelessness. (Frank Gehry)
Architectonics is the scientific study of architecture.

Historical Background

Though any form of art is very difficult to put formal dates for a starting and ending time, the times in which Regency-style architecture is generally accepted to have flourished are the first 30 years of the 19th century.

An important historical point to note is the occurrence of the Napoleonic Wars from 1803-1815, directly coinciding with the beginning of the prominence of Regency-style construction. The wars resulted in very little real construction during the beginning development of Regency Era Architecture. There are many reasons for the resulting dramatically reduced building.

  1. Elimination of government spending on housing
  2. Shortage of imported timber and other inputs into construction
  3. High taxes on building materials
  4. Decrease in population present and able to purchase buildings (due to death toll in war as well as absence of many men heads of households)
Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815)

After the end of the wars in 1815, however, there was a financial boom and surge in British consumer confidence. Construction of houses, churches, and public buildings heightened quickly and the birth of Regency style architecture began anew.

For those of you who know a bit about macro economics: the housing market boomed much more than other markets after the Napoleonic wars because houses are durable goods—meaning that they are typically made and bought on the assumption for a long-term investment. Durable good markets are hit especially hard during financial and consumer spending crises.

Origins in Georgian Architecture

Regency Architecture is the late phase of Georgina architecture (1714-1880), and draws many influences from it. The name "Georgian" comes from the four British monarchs from the House of Hanover that ruled during that time period.

Georgian architecture marked a turn towards simplicity and symmetry–and the beginning of the revival of classical architecture (Roman and Greek).

The Georgian architectural period saw the emergence of the Architect as a legitimate trade. Previously, construction and design of public buildings and homes had been done by skilled craftsman.

What is Regency Architecture?

"Regency Architecture" refers to the classical buildings built in Britain while George IV was Prince Regent, as well as the earlier and later constructions in the same style.

Two Prominent Styles of the Era

The Regency time period was all about "revival" architecture—specifically medieval revival and classical revival. Medieval revival, also known as Victorian Gothic, or Gothic revival, is, as the name implies, a renewal of interest in medieval design philosophies and early 13th and 14th century Gothic churches.

Characteristic gothic curves, stone structures, large expanses of glass, clustered columns, sharply pointed spires, intricate sculptures, ribbed vaults, and flying buttresses began to show up in Regency constructions early on.

Examples of Gothic and Classically-influenced insides of churches are shown on the left and right, respectively.

The second (and more popular) revival architectural movement was towards the ancient Greek and Roman ideals. This can partly be explained by a general surge of interest by Regency English society in Classical Greece. There was not simply a reestablishment of Classical style in architecture, but also in painting, interior design, and dress design amongst much more.

Architecture is not about space but about time.

Classical flairs such as fluted pillars and cornices also became popular during the Regency Era.

Cornices are ornamental moldings around the wall of a room just below the ceiling.
An example of the fluted (grooved) pillars of Greek and Roman architecture.
Another interesting aspect of Classical Architecture was that everything was very mathematically related—and the Golden Ratio was embedded in everything.

Different Types of Regency Buildings

Private Home
Regency Church

Concurrent Styles Worldwide

Around the world, during the development of Regency Style in England, the Biedermeier Style was born in German Lands, Federal Style in the United States, and Empire Style in France.

Biedermeier Style interior décor
American Federal Style at its finest in the construction of federal government buildings
Perhaps the most famous example of France's Empire style: L'Arc de Trionphe de l'Étoile

Back to the Book

After our thorough discussion relating to the historical background, origins, prominent architectural styles, and concurrent styles of the English regency period, it is important to relate it all back to the book of interest—Pride and Prejudice.

Let us examine what the Longbourn, Rosings, and Pemberley may have looked at, given our knowledge of what architects during this period prized.

Top Left: Rosings; Top Right: Longbourn; Above Pemberley

About the Author

Just somebody living life.


Created with images by radeklat - "Painted Hall at Old Royal Naval College" • krecimag - "Pride-and-Prejudice-Jane-Austen" • Klarinette71 - "rouen france gothic" • Bigandtall - "war napoleon military" • skeeze - "money euros finance" • muffinn - "Cheltenham - Regency Buildings" • garyullah - "Lincoln cathedral" • Pexels - "arches architecture art" • Fabiano Rebeque - "Château de Versailles" • roy.luck - "Paestum" • The Marmot - "Golden Section" • Karen Roe - "Ickworth Park (NT) 05-10-2013" • ell brown - "Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum" • cliff1066™ - "Treasury Building (Department of the Treasury)" • Arian Zwegers - "Delhi, India Gate"

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