Charles Brooking’s major collection of architectural detail, referred to in our earlier news item, has been written up in The Financial Times, along with this griffin and other illustrations. The collection has now been moved to temporary storage, but is still under threat and needs a permanent home and financial assistance. To read the article in The Financial Times, click here. To find out more about the collection’s immediate needs, please visit their web-site.
Today is the 160th anniversary of the closing of the Great Exhibition. In the five months since it opened, over six million people had visited and viewed the 100,000 objects on display, including exhibits from France, America, Canada, India and Russia. To the surprise of many, the exhibition made a profit of £186,000, most of which was used to create the South Kensington museums. The influence of the Great Exhibition on interior design is examined in The Victorian House Book.
Wilsons Antiques, based in West Sussex, is the 50th company to be added to the Victorian House Decoration section on our Links page. Over the past few months, this resource has grown steadily, and now profiles a wide selection of companies providing goods and services useful for the renovation of period houses.
In our Architectural Mini-Quiz, launched on 23rd August, we asked you to say which of these three buildings you preferred: (from left) A, B or C. We can now report that 71% of respondents chose A, 20% B and 9% C. There is a lesson here.
We asked you to say which of these three buildings you preferred: (from left) A, B or C. We can now report that 71% of respondents chose A, 20% B and 9% C. There is a lesson here. To read more, please turn to our Blog.
In the 19th century, plasterwork such as cornices and dado rails played both a decorative and practical role. Dado rails, for example, prevented walls from being knocked by furniture, but also added visual interest because contrasting colours could be used above and below. If you wish to add or replace decorative plasterwork in your house, Simply Mouldings can make and install many features, including dado rails and ceiling roses. Their contact details are now available on our Victorian House Decoration page.
Today is the 210th anniversary of the birth of Sir Joseph Paxton, who designed the Crystal Palace for the Great Exhibition of 1851. The building was modelled on a conservatory he had created at Chatsworth to house the giant Victoria amazonica water lily. The plant’s vein structure is said to have been the inspiration for his design. There is a chapter on garden design, including conservatories, in The Victorian House Book. Paxton’s railway work is covered in The Railway Heritage of Britain.
‘However charming the gate or imposing the porch, it is the entrance door which captures the eye of the visitor as he waits to be admitted’ (Robin Guild, The Victorian House Book). Impress your visitors with a replica Georgian or Victorian timber door made by GBS Joinery, whose details are now available on our Links page under the Victorian House Decoration section. They offer a bespoke service, making and fitting doors and windows for residential and commercial properties.
The Victorians placed great importance on the fireplace as ‘the cornerstone of domestic comfort’ (Robin Guild, The Victorian House Book). If you would like to bring some authentic Victorian character into your home, Nostalgia UK Ltd supplies antique fireplaces in wood, stone, slate, cast iron and marble. We have just given them a link on our Links page under the category of ‘Victorian House Decoration’. They have a stock of more than 2,500 fireplaces, including classical, Gothic, Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau designs. Visitors to their web-site can take a virtual tour of their showrooms and warehouses.
When so many people are doing loft conversions or digging out their basements, there is a frequent need for new flights of stairs. To ensure a seamless connection between old and new, you need to be able to copy your existing staircase accurately. This is just the sort of job that E. A. Higginson can do. Their contact details are now available on our Victorian House Decoration page.
In Japan, frogs were thought to bring good fortune, allowing money to return to a person (the Japanese word for ‘frog’ is the same as ‘to return’). This little frog certainly looks as if he might have special powers, as he gazes up at the starry sky. This is our favourite design by The London Stained Glass Company. You can see more designs by visiting their web-site, which can be reached from Victorian House Decoration in Links.
We have added Original Architectural Antiques to our Links section. They supply oak beams, antique doors and door surrounds, new and old oak flooring, railings, chandeliers and limestone garden ornaments.
We have just added a link to Mr Jones of Muswell Hill, makers of curtains, blinds and traditional upholstery. After more than 25 years, they have built up an in-depth knowledge of their subject and amassed a stock of designer fabrics and wallpapers which they claim is the largest in North London. Do a one-stop shop with them, they say, and you will save yourself many frustrating hours of traipsing around.
We have given a link to Thomas Crapper, who gave their name to an inglorious noun and verb. They are still trading on it, producing hand-made replicas of their firm’s products from the late-Victorian and Edwardian periods. As you would expect, they do loos and W. C. seats, but they can also fit you out with baths, basins, taps and bathroom accessories which they claim are ‘ultra-authentic’ and not the ‘vaguely Victorian’ sanitary ware that is generally available. Lucinda Lambton and Adam Hart-Davis, among others, have written glowing reviews of their period detail and thunderous flush!
A front entrance with original tessellated tiles inevitably looks tired after more than a century of use, as this house in Dagnan Road, south-west London, demonstrates (above). Replacing like with like will generally produce the best result, as can be seen from the front entrance of a neighbouring house.
Everyone knows how the Victorians built and finished their houses. After walking down hundreds upon hundreds of streets, you imbibe the style as if by osmosis, so trying to pretend you live in a slick minimalist pad by putting down slate, white gravel, flag stones or other non-original surfaces is unlikely to work. The new will probably jar with the old. A really well-finished job, like the one below, will look far superior.
Workmen have started installing new windows in the house next door. What a relief: they are putting in the correct, wooden, box-sash windows! These closely match the originals and will raise the value of the house, unlike UPVC replacements, which would have lowered it.
Two of our neighbours in Cavendish Road have relaid their front paths in true Victorian style, and what an entrance they have made! They have used the right tiles with square-cut edges, not the rounded modern alternatives which never look as good.
‘I do like the traditional look,’ says the owner of the house on the right, who acted as project manager. He has found Victorian rope-top border tiles to trim the sides of the paths and commissioned new railings, complete with decorative pineapples to top off the gate posts. ‘The visitor had to be left in no doubt as to the owner’s position in society,’ wrote Robin Guild in The Victorian House Book, discussing the importance of the front entrance. Attitudes have changed since this south London house was built in 1893, but the truth of the statement is still evident more than a century on. Use the right architectural detail and you will impress.
These tiles were laid by the Victorian Tile Co., 07976 937 667.
This is an excerpt from the Publisher’s speech at The Victorian House Book launch party, Brunswick House, Vauxhall Cross.
Why did we do a book on Victorian houses? There are more of them in Great Britain than any other period house. A quarter of the British housing stock is Victorian. Nearly six million of us live in them and we all have to look at them when we walk or drive through our cities and towns. When I was a small boy living in Kent, my grandfather used to drive us up to London for a Christmas treat – Peter Pan on ice or Bertram Mills’ Circus – and as we made our way through the Victorian suburbs of Catford, Lewisham, New Cross, Peckham and Camberwell, I witnessed scenes of sad dilapidation. What had been Class I gentleman’s villas now had cars parked in their front gardens, garden walls crumbling, paint peeling off the windows, brickwork dark from London soot, front doors drab and cluttered with inappropriate ironmongery. Rows of plastic doorbells testified to the scourge of multi-occupation.