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A Brief Introduction to Terraced Housing

The terrace is one of the most recognisable styles of housing in England.

Around a quarter of the population live with a neighbour on each side of them in a set of three or more uniformly designed houses, sharing common materials and plan forms. Another great blog from Historic England

The style first emerged as a building type in the late 17th century and continued to develop in line with the development of towns and cities across England.

The style first emerged as a building type in the late 17th century and continued to develop in line with the development of towns and cities across England.

There was style of terraced housing for everyone: from grand aristocratic compositions intended to mimic country houses through to modest workers’ housing.

Georgian 1714-1830

The Georgian terrace is often regarded as one of England’s greatest contributions to the urban form; defining and shaping the historic character of places like London, Bath, Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle and Brighton, where whole districts of terraces still exist.

Georgian terraced housing was initially fashionable and expensive, and speculative builders worked quickly to put up new streets.

Technological advances made this increased level of development possible. The price of glass also fell, meaning windows could be large enough to illuminate the floor space and stairs from only two walls. This was coupled with the invention of the sash window, which allowed for improved ventilation.

As the popularity of terraces grew, builders experimented with new styles including circuses and crescents, good examples of which exist in Brighton, Bristol and Weston-Super-Mare. The grandest late Georgian and Regency terraces faced onto a square or garden.

Some of the most impressive terrace compositions were designed by John Nash and Thomas Cubitt in London, Richard Grainger in Newcastle and John Foster in Liverpool.

By the late Georgian and early Victorian period many towns across the country, including York, Exeter, Hull, Liverpool and Leeds, had handsome streets for the wealthier urban classes lined with the ordered facades of terraced development.

Victorian 1837-1901

Later on, terraced housing became a solution to demographic changes in England that saw huge urban population growth as a result of the Industrial Revolution.

Large numbers of terraces were built speculatively to accommodate householders further down the socio-economic scale, who needed to live near their places of work.

At the same time, the terrace form was also used for model communities sponsored by enlightened mill owners and employers like Titus Salt, who constructed Saltaire for his workforce.

In the middle of the 19th Century the style became more closely associated with the aspiring middle classes, as the rich looked for individual, detached houses.

During this time, the middle class terrace typically had much more colour and decoration than its Georgian predecessor: ornate details and trims, bay windows, stained glass panes and tiling patterns on roofs are all common features.

However, these houses were often put up speculatively and so the quality could be very poor. By the later Victorian period, the upper middle classes were seeking detached houses or villas, and the terrace then became associated with the lower middle classes.

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