Town Planning, Leasing & Layout
Here we see how Georgian and Regency London houses were planned and how the ground and the houses built on it were leased. We look at the kinds or ‘Rates’ of houses which were built and a plan for a development in Alfred Place. We see a typical streetscape of the period in Blackfriars Bridge Road and a design for the elevations for The Royal Terrace, Adelphi, a particularly grand and important development in London.
We also see a view of Fitzroy Square which was designed by Adam to look like a series of grand palaces rather than a simple row of identical terraced houses.
London houses in the Georgian and Regency period were usually developed using the leasehold system. The owner of the land, often a wealthy aristocrat whose family had owned the land for many years, would lease it to a builder or speculator for a specified period of time often 60, 70 or 99 years; the builder then built the houses and sold them on to the people who would live in them. These occupants still had to pay rent to the landlord and when the period of the lease expired the ownership of the house went to landlord. Unfortunately this often meant that the houses were built only to last for the term of the lease.
Trouble with cheaply-built houses was common. Some leases even specified that no dances were to be held in the houses in case the weight of the guests meant the house fell down! This Sir John Soane’s lease for number 12 Lincoln’s Inn Fields. Number 12 is the house to the left of the Soane Museum, It is a beautiful and elaborate document written on vellum. Image number 1 shows it folded for filing inscribed with a description and date. Image number 2 shows the whole document.