Understanding Georgian & Regency London Houses

Design of the House

Here we see how the house and its details were designed in Georgian and Regency London.

We will look at the house of a famous actor, David Garrick, built in the Adelphi, one of the most fashionable developments in London.

We see a design for a chimneypiece by William Chambers, an architect of the generation before Soane; and another design by Adam, for an ornamental wall at the rear of a yard in a grand London house. 

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 David Garrick’s House, Adelphi: Elevation

David Garrick’s House, Adelphi: Elevation


Adam Vol. 42/60

David Garrick, who lived from 1717 to 1779, was one of the most famous actors of his age. This is the house designed for him by Robert Adam in The Adelphi. Garrick and his wife were as famous and fashionable as film stars of today and wanted the very best and most beautiful house. They also had handsome furniture and paintings; in fact Soane bought An Election, a series of four paintings by William Hogarth after Mrs Garrick’s death: they can still be seen in the Museum today. Garrick’s house was in the centre of Royal Terrace overlooking the Thames and is shown in drawing The Royal Terrace, Adelphi, it was built in 1771.

The elevation was designed on the proportions of a Roman temple. The ground floor represents the podium of the temple and is fairly low; it has the entrance from the street, with an elegant doorcase. Above that are two floors linked by beautifully-decorated pilasters, or flattened columns, supporting a cornice which represents the main part of the temple and above that an attic. The rooms on the first floor (called the piano nobile) have the tallest ceilings and are the grandest and most important. This was the almost universal proportional system for Georgian terraced houses, although the pilasters would often be left out and the cornice simplified to a plain, raised, band of brickwork.