Georgian Architecture

The features of Regency Georgian architecture were based essentially on similar principles to the Palladian Georgian architectural style of the eighteenth century. Georgian buildings often possess impeccably symmetrical facades and designs are based around the mathematical proportions of the cube, square and circle. Georgian house plans are often based on a symmetrical pattern around a central hall. But Palladian architecture was far more rigid, standardised and homogenous than the Regency version, which was based on a much freer and eclectic interpretation of the principles of proportion and order, and was thus prepared to incorporate aspects of other architectural styles. This can be clearly discerned at Farringford, where a basic Georgian structural shell and plan has been altered by the addition of Gothic elements.

The Classical style of Georgian architecture was popularised in the 18th century by pattern books, a new development that had not existed in previous centuries. From about 1780, a new type of architectural pattern book emerged, illustrating modest houses, villas, cottages and cottage ornées, aimed at the middle-classes. Previously, these pattern books had been aimed at the nobility or building tradesmen, and provided plans and elevations for country stately homes or grand town mansions. Pattern books now showed more modest houses and villas for affluent middle-class people, such as clergy, merchants, military officers, and professional people.

A typical example of these pattern books is that by John Plaw, entitled " Rural architecture; or designs, from the simple cottage to the decorated villa." The examples below are from the 1794 edition and show elevations and plans for Georgian houses built in the Classical style. They show design features similar to Farringford, suggesting that the original house derived very much from this architectural tradition.

Regency Cheltenham Regency Cheltenham Regency Cheltenham
Typical Georgian house in Cheltenham showing symmetrical arrangement. Another typical Georgian house in Cheltenham, showing an M-shaped roof with similar gable end to Farringford. A design from John Plaw’s Rural Architecture, showing typical Georgian front elevation. Again this has similarities to Farringford.
Regency Ryde Regency Farringford
St. John’s house in Ryde. A Georgian house, built in about 1769. This shows a central block with additional wings on the end with a hipped roof, similar to the original single storey wings at Farringford. Farringford House as it was in 1806, three years after its construction. Unlike many Georgian houses, which had a chimney stack on each end, Farringford’s chimney stacks were placed centrally in a similar manner to St. John’s on the left. Another unusual feature of this Georgian house are the Gothic windows and battlements.
John Plaw’s Rurual Architecture, 1794 John Plaw’s Rurual Architecture, 1794
John Plaw’s Rurual Architecture, 1794 Examples of designs suggested in John Plaw’s Rurual Architecture, 1794. These all show a symmetrical front elevation, with ground, first and second floors. The attic floor contains small windows. Two of these examples also contain side wings.
Gentleman's Architect Gentleman's Architect
Examples of typical handbooks produced for architects and builders in the 18th century. [Left] The Country Gentleman’s Architect by John Miller, 1791. [Above] Rural Architecture by Robert Morris. London, 1750.


In forming this plan, care has been taken to avoid whatever experience has found objectionable relating to the domestic offices, and to afford facility of communication to the apartments, without subjecting them to inconvenience or offence. The pantry is near the dining-room, and commands the porch. The servants'-hall is beyond the door leading to the yard, and has the effect of being detached from the house, though really within it. The kitchen is arranged with the same advantages; the door opposite the pantry is only in use for the service of dinner. The scullery is wholly removed from the house. The laundry and wash-house are yet more retired, and immediately under the inspection of the housekeeper, who, in this arrangement, is considered as cook also. The knife and shoe-room adjoins the servants'-hall. The larder and dairy are farther removed from the inhabited parts; and the offices on this side are approachable by a trellis colonnade, so that at all seasons they are accessible with safety. The minor staircase leads to the chamber-landings and to the cellars; there is a stair to the cellar also, from the colonnade. The chambers contain three apartments for the men, three for the maid-servants, and a room for stores.

From the porch, a hall of small dimensions communicates with a waiting-room, which is a receptacle for coats, hats, sticks, &c. Water should be laid on to a wash-stand near the window; this room contains a water-closet. The dining-room entrance is from the hall, and is favourably situated for the service of dinner. The dining-room is unconnected with the retiring apartments; but a jib-door communicates with the vestibule, and precludes the necessity of passing through the hall to the drawing-room or gallery. The niches to contain candelabra at the sideboard end, and the corresponding recesses at the other angles, are suited to an architectural decoration consonant with the purposes of this room. The withdrawing-room, breakfast-room, and gallery or library, are approached from the vestibule, and from each other. The advantages of this arrangement are so obvious, that they are not treated of; but in the general adoption of the connected drawing-room and library, the mind becomes highly gratified on contemplating the acknowledged influence of female intellect, and those charms of social loveliness, that have allured the apartment of study from its obscure retreat.

The drawing-room is so formed as to avoid the dark shades which invariably collect in the corners of all rooms, and affords the means of a very elegant decoration. The gallery is lighted from the top, as its purpose is to contain pictures, marbles, bronzes, and books, and thus admit a beautiful variety of arrangements round it, forms the approach to the chambers.

georgian plan

The vestibule is always a most desirable appurtenance to a dwelling, and is here situated so as to afford additional ventilation; it reaches to the top of the building, and is surmounted by a lantern light; a gallery a gallery round it, forms the approach to the chambers. The vestibule opens to the staircase, and the staircase to this gallery. A water-closet is contained in the retired part of the staircase. The chambers above, are four, three with a dressing-room, and one without it.

Simplicity of character has been the leading object of this design. It will be seen that the extent of the house is aimed to be defined by pilasters, which are in number, four on the porch-front, four on the lawn-front, and two on the returning end; the remainder being plain walls, would be planted against, and hid by shrubberies, as there are no windows of the offices looking outwards.

The Palladian sashes of the dining-room, drawing-room, and the door of the breakfast-room, open to a stone terrace, which descends by two steps to the lawn. The terrace is so elegant in its character, and so useful as a promenade after wet weather, that it should be reluctantly, if ever, dispensed with.

georgian plan 2 georgian plan 3

A suggested plan for a house, illustrated in

Rural architecture , by John Plaw.

1794. This has essentially the same elements as the Farringford ground floor plan

Including the “Cover’d Passage” and two domestic wings at the back , except the domestic quarters at Farringford have been extended to form longer wings.

georgian plan 4 georgian plan 5 georgian plan 6 georgian plan 3

[Above] A house plan from Familiar architecture by Thomas Rawlins. 1795, showing the same basic Georgian lay-out for a small, gentleman’s residence as the three plans on the left.

[Above] Three separate plans for a small residence for a gentleman, showing a typical Georgian room lay-out. All exhibit certain common traits, which are also present at Farringford: central staircase and hall with rooms leading off; bedrooms leading off landing; a simple four-room storey. However, these houses have their domestic offices placed in the basement. (In each of the plans - Fig. 1: basement; fig. 2: living floor; fig. 3: first floor)

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