Georgian Architecture 1714-1830

The Georgian Era

The first four Hanoverian Kings, George I, George II, George III, and George IV, ruled over England from 1714 to 1830, hence the name Georgian for this time period. Both architecture and design experienced several great and differentiating changes, some of which are still popularized today, specifically in America. It has been noted that since the styles that take shape are so drastically different that it should not be referred to as the Georgian style, but styles.

Prior to the Georgian style, Baroque was what was the artistic trend in England from The House of Stuarts. It was dramatic, exaggerated and filled with rising tension, and the Whigs decided that that was not fashionable any longer. With both power over the government and now artistic thought, the Whigs were tired of architectural pieces such as St Paul’s Cathedral which was created by renowned architect, Sir Christopher Wren.


The first style was mainly inspired by Inigo Jones and Andrea Palladio. Jones was known for his application and utilization of the Vitruvian rules of symmetry and proportion. He was actually the one to introduce Palladio’s work and style to England in the early 1600’s. Palladio, on the other hand, was an Italian architect, humanist, and theorist. He highly valued harmonizing symmetry and proportion together to create rational structures. Back in Italy, Palladianism was not something that was picked up on and it was only his disciples who pursued his style in their work. In England, however, his style and ways thrived with the Whigs. Everything about it seemed sensible and reasonable in comparison to the grandeur and complications of Baroque architecture. In 1710, William Benson, a parliamentary Whig member, build his first Palladian style house. Other well known Palladian architects include Vincenzo Scamozzi, one of Palladio’s disciples, John Wood, and James Paine.

The Palladian style is typically characterized by columns, triangular pediments, arches, and block-like structure, at times circular or spherical forms such as domes, and its defined center axis.


At around mid 18th century, the next style takes place and it is referred to as Neoclassicism. No longer being derived from Italian influence, the architectural style shifts its focus onto Greek and Roman architecture. Classicism and Neoclassicism are terms that can be used interchangeably due to the fact that they both are derived from being built off of antiquity, it is just that Neoclassicism comes after Classicism. As industrialism began to settle in, so did a growing population. Mansions and houses were of high demand for both the aristocracy and middle class. Notable architects of this time include Robert Adam and Sir William Chamber.

Neoclassicism holds six characteristics very close to heart, those being idealism, harmony, clarity, restraint, universality, and rationalism. Similar to Palladianism, Neoclassicism was started due to the thought that styles such as Baroque were needlessly fancy and elaborate, losing meaning in their structure. To achieve this, architects that followed this style held value for very specific details rather than elaborate ones. Such an example would be simply using straight lines to design rather than arched or curved ones. Neoclassicism also heavily used columns, triangular pediments etc. for their structures.

Gothic Revival

In an attempt to perhaps keep the seemingly absurdness of Baroque architecture around, the Gothic Revival appeared at around 1747 with Horace Walpole's Strawberry Hill. Gothic architecture typically does not end up being used for the original purpose, instead it remains a feast for the eye with all the small yet extravagant details that it has to offer. The romantic perspectives of the Gothic Revival architects constantly clashed against those of the straight-to-the-point, Neoclassical architects with constant competition between the two.

As remarkably flamboyant places, key characteristics of Gothic Revival/Gothic architecture include intricate tracery, tall towers, pointed arches, and stained glass windows.

Height and light were the main driving forces for this type of style. Often times the interior of the building would be lofty and cavernous with plenty of light streaming in from the windows.

In Relations to the Text

In the book Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, setting plays an immense role in how the characters act and interact with others. Longbourn, Netherfield, Pemberley, and Rosings are all estates belonging to the characters in the book, typically physically reflecting their owners. Longbourn is owned by the Bennet family near a town called Meryton. Due to the fact the Meryton is also in the country, Longbourn can easily be seen or imagined as a house made of red bricks and wooden accents painted white, something that the Georgian era is typically credited to starting. Netherfield is owned by the Bingley family and this, too, would most likely be made in the same fashion as Longbourn is since it is also situated near Meryton.

The last two estates include Rosings and Pemberley, which are each respectively set in Kent and Derbyshire. Rosings is owned by Lady Catherine de Bourgh and it is described by Elizabeth as a "modern building" which could perhaps mean that it was styled after the gothic revival, fitting for the character's dramatics.

Pemberley is owned by the tall, wealthy, and prideful Mr. Darcy and is described by Elizabeth to be "large", "handsome", and not of "any artificial appearance". Although it is not from the Georgian era, Pemberley is commonly thought to be based off of the Chatsworth House, which is also located in Derbyshire. This house was built based off of the Baroque and Italian style. The Chatsworth house history began in the 16th century, but contains many qualities from the 17th and 18th century. In the 1700's, James Paine was commissioned to build the stables and a bridge for the house.

Images of the Chatsworth House including the bridge build by James Paine.

The history of the Chatsworth House near the time that Jane Austen was born to the time that she wrote Pride and Prejudice also seems to hold some striking similarities to the book. in 1774, the lady of the house was Lady Georgiana Spencer, who was married to the 5th Duke of Devonshire, William Cavendish. She was notably very close to one of the Duke's mistresses, Lady Elizabeth Foster, who later became the mistress of the house after Georgiana's death in 1806 (the two were married three years later in 1809).

Cited Sources:

"Chatsworth House." Chatsworth House. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Mar. 2017.

"Classicism and Neoclassicism." Britannica School, Encyclopædia Britannica, 19 Aug. 2009. Accessed 29 Mar. 2017.

"Different Directions in England." Arts and Humanities Through the Eras, edited by Edward I. Bleiberg, et al., vol. 5: The Age of the Baroque and Enlightenment 1600-1800, Gale, 2005, pp. 29-34. Gale Virtual Reference Library, Accessed 29 Mar. 2017.

"Georgian architecture." The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™, Columbia University Press, 2017. Research in Context, Accessed 29 Mar. 2017.

"Georgian style." Britannica School, Encyclopædia Britannica, 3 Feb. 2017. Accessed 29 Mar. 2017.

"Gothic architecture." Britannica School, Encyclopædia Britannica, 1 Jul. 2010. Accessed 28 Mar. 2017.

"Gothic Revival." Britannica School, Encyclopædia Britannica, 8 Sep. 2016. Accessed 28 Mar. 2017.

"Palladianism." Britannica School, Encyclopædia Britannica, 17 May. 2016. Accessed 29 Mar. 2017.

"The Development of Neoclassicism." Arts and Humanities Through the Eras, edited by Edward I. Bleiberg, et al., vol. 5: The Age of the Baroque and Enlightenment 1600-1800, Gale, 2005, pp. 49-57. Gale Virtual Reference Library, Accessed 29 Mar. 2017.


Created with images by deboombop - "brick red brown" • Marcus Meissner - "St. Paul's Cathedral" • Jim Linwood - "Chiswick House, London." • seier+seier - "lewerentz, stockholm august 2005" • Carmen Escobar Carrio - "La medida humana" • JackPeasePhotography - "St Peter's, Bournemouth at Sunset" • garyullah - "Beverley minster" • Jorge Lascar - "Gothic choir of the church-abbey - Mont St Michel" • Pedro Nuno Caetano - "The rose in the window" • ell brown - "Red House" • garyullah - "Peterborough cathedral" • jstarj - "chatsworth house lake peak district" • Gareth1953 All Right Now - "Chatsworth House - Sept 2014 - Esther on the Bridge" • al_si - "chatsworth house derbyshire england"

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