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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Chimneypiece by William Chambers

Chimneypiece by William Chambers


Here is a design for a chimneypiece by the architect William Chambers, drawn in 1764. Georgian rooms would often have an elegant chimneypiece even if the rest of the room was fairly plainly decorated. The form and proportions, as with all the parts of a Georgian house, were based on those of Roman architecture. The mantleshelf is like the cornice of a temple, the frieze below is decorated with swags and an elegant classical urn. The architrave, below that, also runs vertically round the opening for the fire.

The sides are decorated with terms, which are like figures with simplified, stylised bodies and in this case ram’s heads. Below is the plan of the chimneypiece which shows how deep the opening is. Famous sculptors would often make the details for chimneypieces to keep their studios busy between larger jobs like church monuments. Coal was used to heat houses in London unlike many European cities where wood was the usual fuel. Coal gave a good heat but the smoke was very polluting and would hang over London in horrible dark clouds.