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Different strokes from different folks

London’s rich architectural heritage makes surveying in the capital a pleasure because every part of the city offers properties with different styles, colours and materials, says Simon White

I’m a lucky man. I enjoy surveying in London because over the years it has witnessed every architectural fad and influence imaginable so what you end up with is a potpourri of styles.

Mass-produced housing started in London in the Georgian period between 1714 and 1837. Most Georgian houses were solid and symmetrical, as a drive down Kennington Park Road will testify.

From 1830 onwards London must have been one gigantic building site and the Victorian era comprised many styles.

For example, between 1880 and 1910 the Arts and Crafts movement was prominent and produced ornate houses with tile hung walls and Tudor-style inglenook fireplaces. Hampstead Garden Suburb is the best example of this type of architecture in London.

Between 1850 and 1880, upper class houses were often built in the Gothic Revival style with medieval influences such as crenellations, arrow slits and stone dressed windows. Tooting’s Heaver Estate exhibits some wonderful examples of Neo-Gothic and is worth a visit.

At the same time houses were also being designed in a style known as Italianate with a focus on stucco-type rendering and grand porticos. The Pimlico Grid in SW1 has terrace after terrace of such properties.

Between 1860 and 1900 a style known as the Queen Anne Revival developed and like Marmite was loved and loathed in equal measure. I love it for its ridiculous exuberance with unnecessary gables, turrets and parapets topped with demons and gargoyles. This is Victoriana at its best and if you care to take a stroll around Bedford Park in Chiswick you’ll see what I mean.

The next major change of style in the city’s architecture occurred in the 1920s and is often referred to as Art Deco.

This was a time of social change when less and less moneyed people had servants and their children weren’t banished to the top floor to spend the first 10 years of their lives with nannies. And with the rise of commuters, mass produced houses were smaller and predominately semi-detached.

The most popular style of the day was known as Mock Tudor or Tudorbethan, usually with half timbered or tile hung walls, leaded windows and elaborate chimneys.

A fine example of this is the Princess Gardens Estate in Acton, although it should be said that the Art Deco period also spawned a number of classic mansion blocks.

The best preserved is Du Cane Court in Balham, which has been used as a TV set in shows such as ITV’s Poirot. So there you have it, a cocktail of styles, colours and materials – that’s why I love surveying in London.


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