The architecture behind London period properties

The architecture behind London properties is quite outstanding. In some ways it is some of the best design and planning the world has ever seen, in others the basic elementary mistakes make you question some of the point in building so beautifully in the first place. With this blog post we will take a look at the core components that make beautiful London architecture. Those being brickwork, windows, woodwork, cornice and plasterwork, iron railings, slate roofs, and lastly but not least lead light in the doors and surrounds that lit up the entrance to these beautifully designed period homes.

Brickwork yellow stock brick

One of the most fascinating parts of a victorian property is the yellow stock brick. It looks stunning when new and creates an aura of wealth and prosperity. If you’ve ever seen this brick cleaned up you’ll fully understand what I mean. On top of that, a quality bricklayer can bring the best of of the mortar too making the external aperture and architecture all the more appealing. A perfect combination of design, planning, and application.

yellow stock
yellow stock

What’s more, yellow stock brick has proved to be extremely durable. Most Victorian properties remain totally unaffected by a hundred and forty years of ageing. Because of the soft lime mortar and footings many of these properties were not damaged at all by the London bombing in WW2. These amazing constructions didn’t fall over when bombed, simply they simply bounced as a result of the soft joining compounds. Even more amazingly from an architecture perspective, these were easily repaired during the war and have proved to have lasted 150 years or more

Floor to ceiling sash windows, totally encompass the idea of architecture

Sash window design for airflow, what more can I say? They are designed to be opened top and bottom so that this will create a wonderful airflow for the homeowner or person staying in the property. Brilliantly, these fantastic sash windows were initially designed serviceable by homeowner, unfortunately this is a skill that we’ve long since forgotten. Following on from this theme sash windows are extremely easy to repair and they come with amazingly beautiful profiles that give them an elegant appearance like no other. Combined with the Beautiful wavy glass that was not made by machine but in some cases actually had made as well which was an amazing selling point for these original architectural marvels.

sash windows
sash windows

The amazing woodwork – You only have to take a look at the beautiful staircases. Staircases in the Victorian times were built so strongly and with purpose that they still remain in perfect condition today. Occasionally you’ll find a few that I’ve got a bit of a Creek or a loose board but apart from that there in near on the same condition that they were made 140 years ago. This is a testament to not only the quality of a craftsman, but the quality of timber and the joining compound that they had for these as well. They would you be using high quality glue and amazingly we haven’t really improved upon that glue even today. What’s even more impressive is the fact that they will have been able to have done all of this in the near on dark. Imagine those cold winter days of got 4 p.m. dark shut out. With the timber being such high quality it was extremely easy to identify. Basically to cut a long story short the more growth rings there are in a piece of timber the higher the density and therefore the stronger the timber and the closer the grain. It also means that you’ll get a crisp finish on your joinery if you have a harder timber with close grain density. Lovely architrave around windows and door frames benefited massively from is quality of timber leaving beautiful lines and straight edges that are unachievable with modern softer timber. Some of woodworking find in a Victorian property listed below:

  • Beautiful staircase spindles
  • Lovely panelling surrounding windows
  • Internal shutters
Elegant staircase
Elegant staircase

Cornice – plaster mould around ceiling

One of my personal favourite things to see in a Victorian property is the cornice around the corner of the ceiling. This beautiful decorative mould is simply unrivalled in elegance and beauty. Amazingly there’s not that many tradesmen left they they can actually form this moulding. It’s more commonly brought as an actual fixed section that screw into today’s just out of sheer cost. It’s a bit unfortunate as you can tell the difference instantly but with the costs of this type of tradesman being extremely high if you can even get your hands on one there’s not really a lot of choice.

Cornice - plaster mould around ceiling
Cornice – plaster mould around ceiling

Wrought Iron Railings – Beautiful cast iron elegant detail

Wrought Iron Railings were built to last. Most rare iron railings are still in existence today and if you’re walking through Central London you’ll find almost all of the Originals. They just simply been painted and a little bit of maintenance over the last 150 years and they still stand as good as the day that they were made. Occasionally you’ll notice a couple of them they’ve got an issue on the hinges where they’ve obviously been swung open and closed thousands and thousands of times. But these hinges are completely serviceable and replaceable if necessary. So its just a minor bit of maintenance overall the Wrought Iron Railing remaining excellent condition.

Wrought Iron Railings
Wrought Iron Railings

Slate roofs – stunning look

surprisingly durable. And it’s amazing because they look so beautiful. You wouldn’t think it because of the slave being so slender, and that’s what gives it aesthetic appearance but overall slate and extremely useful product for the roof. Not only is it lightweight, when compared to concrete tiles, but also that means that you reduce the amount of timber required in the roof trusses. This is significantly better for the environment and also it’s better than we’re not wasteful when we can avoid it.

slate roof
slate roof

Slate by his nature is extremely waterproof and durable, and as we already know more than capable of withstanding all of the British typical weather that we receive every year. The slate roofs can last easily 30 or 40 years with absolutely no issues whatsoever and very little maintenance.

Lead light in doors and fixed lights around the door.

One of my very personal Favourite Things is to see is lead light in doors and fix lights around the entrance way. It can look stunning and extremely exuberant but you can understand exactly why Victorians did this and why the would discerning amongst them would like to do this. It looks absolutely stand out, and if you have the money well why not do it? Architecture is sometimes about being lavish and not just always about practicality. The Victorians prove that perfectly and actually I believe managed to strike amazing balance.

Carole Melendez

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