In Sussex, we’re lucky enough to boast many period homes and a wealth of vernacular architecture. From the ancient buildings of towns like Lewes, to the Art Deco splendour of Bexhill’s De La Warre Pavilion, Sussex really does have it all. Several of our clients own wonderful and historical properties with an abundance of character and a long past. Over the years, we’ve become familiar with the building styles and methods of construction that are common around the South East and, when it comes to period property, our enthusiasm knows no bounds. So, what do you need to know about your home’s history?
Many of the surviving medieval styles, such as Anglo-Saxon and Norman are only found in religious buildings nowadays, but the homes that are still standing tend to be in the Tudor style and retain many features that give them a unique flavour.
Whether your home was once owned by a wealthy or poor family, Tudor homes have the following things in common:
- An ‘H’ shaped floor plan.
- Hammerbeam roofs – timber framed roofs that are often very ornate.
- Brick and stone masonry.
- Brick fireplaces and chimneys, often topped with decorative pots.
- Prominent gables.
- Classic Tudor beams both inside and outside the house.
Common problems that can occur with Tudor properties are:
- Rot, an especial threat in properties of this period due to their timber frames.
- Foundation issues, as most Tudor homes were just built at ground level, with no real foundations.
As prosperity grew, the less wealthy were able to build more comfortable homes.
Homes of the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods tend to:
- Be larger than those of the Medieval period.
- Be built from stone not timber.
- Have Dutch-style, stepped gables.
- Be decorated with ornate strapwork, moulded plasterwork patterns, often found on ceilings and around doors.
Common problems that can occur with Renaissance homes include:
- Damp and condensation can have a severe effect on plaster and can damage traditional strapwork.
- Climbing plants can cause damage to masonry and stonework – watch out for cracks in the exterior walls.
- If the core of a stone wall collapses, this can distort external layers, causing structural problems.
This style describes most homes built between 1714 and 1830 and is named after the four King Georges that reigned over this 116 year period. Georgian architecture remains a characteristic style in cities like London and marks a step away from its Elizabethan and Jacobean predecessors. Georgian houses usually include:
- Exact symmetry and proportion in terms of layout and external appearance.
- Rows of identical terraced houses started to become common.
- Engraved details.
- Simple, restrained exteriors, with minimal ornamentation, but highly intricate decoration on the inside with ornate plasterwork and intricate carvings.
- Front gardens became popular.
- Houses tended to be tall and narrow to fit into small spaces in cities.
Georgian houses were built with very high levels of construction, but, like any other period property, they come with a unique set of common issues:
- The soft red brick that was popular during this period is liable to weathering and deterioration over time, and in heavy rain mortar can be washed away.
- Traditional bay and sash windows are susceptible to rot, where damp and condensation aren’t kept under control.
- Like Renaissance architecture, traditional plasterwork may crack and foundation problems are also common.
Victorian architecture utilises the features of the style that came before it, as well as developments in construction that came later in the period. As such, Victorian homes are often very eclectic, featuring a range of historical styles, modern techniques and elements of middle-eastern design. Elements to look out for are:
- The increasing use of steel in this period, especially in windows.
- High brick chimneys.
- Large, ornate feature staircases.
- Steps leading to the front door.
- Carved stone door-frames.
- Rows of painted sash-windows.
- Fine brickwork.
Because the Victorian style is so varied, there are a number of problems that can affect these homes, including:
- Weather damage to high chimneys.
- Rot, caused by damp and condensation, on original sash-windows.
- Deteriorating brickwork, as in Georgian homes.
- There are many roofing issues that can occur in Victorian homes, including missing slates, sagging timber beams and defective guttering.
- Poor ventilation and thermal efficiency is very common.
If you’d like any advice on your period home or have a big construction idea, get in touch with us. We’re always delighted to hear from you.