Victorian Book Report: The Victorian House Explained, by Trevor Yorke

I never wrote up a report on the first book I read out of this series, Georgian and Regency Houses Explained, but this can stand for both; they’re pretty similar works. Skinny little books with a lot of pictures, seemingly intended for a market consisting of people who occupy or otherwise have an interest in the houses of different periods: there’s a timeline at the back, showing when different features came into and went out of fashion, so you can try to ID your house (or renovations thereof) by time period.

But in the course of serving this need, Yorke does two very useful things: first, he gives an overview of how styles changed over time (between the Georgian and Regency periods, or throughout the loooooong Victorian period), and second, he breaks the houses down by class of room, giving sample floorplans, and talking about how those rooms would be decorated. He’s much more interested in fixtures than furniture — with this book in hand, I could probably date a coal grate to within about twenty years — but where the actual structure is concerned, his books are a minor goldmine. (The Victorian book of this series lacks the stultifyingly boring section showing different kinds of drainpipes and door styles that the G&R book had; I tried to pay attention to that bit last time, but really, unless you’re trying to date the house you live in by the depth of the window-box, its use is limited.)

He’s done a whole series of these things — “England’s Living History” — not just for houses but also bridges, churches, even narrowboats. They’re all fairly small, but based on the data sample I have so far, clear and useful for the topics they cover.

0 Responses to “Victorian Book Report: The Victorian House Explained, by Trevor Yorke”

  1. fjm

    How rooms are used is fascinating. Reading up on the Georgian household helped me realise that one of the problems we were having house hunting was that most of the houses we looked at were late Victorian and later. What this meant was an assumption that “the family” would be together much of the time. We live much more like Georgians, with rooms purposed, and coming together only for one or two of those purposes (ie eating or late night reading). Otherwise, he has his work room(s) and I have mine.

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