Fireplaces can either be contemporary or they can reflect a particular historical period. Contemporary fireplaces are in tune with the times we live in. They can look stunning in a period home.
Historical periods include Tudor, Queen Anne, Georgian, Regency, Victorian and French. We hope that the following brief guide to architectural styles will help you to choose the right fireplace for your home.
The Tudor period was between 1485 and 1603. With the widespread use of coal as a fuel, it heralded the arrival of the chimney stack. Chimney pieces were large and elaborate. Fireplaces were installed upstairs as well as on the ground floor. The Tudors followed the perpendicular style and in fireplace design, expect to find elegant lines and foliage motifs. Oak panelling was popular and often extended from floor to ceiling.
A Baroque style was popular during the reign of Queen Anne, between 1702 and 1714. In practice, it was an eclectic style incorporating classical, Flemish and French Renaissance influences. Carved ornamentation and patterned horizontal sidings were a feature, as were tall ornamental chimneys.
The Georgian architectural period was between 1720 and 1840. The principle Georgian styles were Palladian and its whimsical alternatives, Gothic and Chinoiserie. Georgian houses had chimneys on both sides of the home. The Palladian characteristics comprised grace, understated decorative elements and use of classical themes. One of the most well-known architects of this period was Robert Adam who designed the interiors of a great many country houses. His fireplaces are synonymous with Georgian style.
The Regency period lasted from 1811 to 1820, although sometimes the ‘Regency era’ refers to a longer period (the mid 1790s to 1837). There were two major styles which were popular during the Regency period. The first was a medieval revival. Often termed Victorian Gothic, it was popular well into the Victorian period. This style was based on medieval architecture especially Gothic churches of the late 13th and early 14th centuries. Architects emulated Gothic tracery and other decorative elements of the Gothic period.
The second was classical in nature. Restrained simplicity and imitation of traditional Greek and Roman architecture were used. For example, fluted Greek columns and painted and carefully moulded cornices. The theme was refined elegance.
The Victorian era spanned 1837 to 1901. Nostalgia was the keynote. Both watered-down Regency classicalism and the Greek revival continued after Queen Victoria ascended the throne.
The Gothic revival was popular and was a reaction to the classical style of the previous century. The Victorian era saw a return to the traditional styles of building, with Mock Gothic being particularly popular. The Gothic revival was a romantic yearning for the traditional, comforting past.
The two other styles popular during this period were Extravagant and Simple. The early Victorians favoured elaborate details and decoration. Later, the pendulum swung back to a simple, farmhouse style.
The history of French architecture runs parallel with its neighbours in Europe. Styles include Roman, Pre-Romanesque, Romanesque, Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo and Neo Classicalism. Designs were influenced by the reign of Louis XVI and featured sensuous curves and elaborate detailing.
Having a beautiful fireplace in your home provides a central talking point. A little knowledge of the history can help the conversation!