Monday, September 17, 2007

Regency Style

The last post I did, I labeled architecture. But truly, I think the word I was looking for was style. So not just the buildings, but the look of them and what was in them and how they were used.

I talked about Soane. He was the protege of George Dance the younger who was described as "a poet architect". These architects were of the Picturesque school and they aimed to imbue buildings with a mood. While Soane designed and worked during the Regency, Dance had a great influence on what was to come.

Of particular note is Dance's Newgate Prison built between 1770-80 with a forbidding rusticated (meant to look countrified) exterior pierced with a doorway overhung with sinister iron shackles. I don't think there is any doubt about the mood this entrance inspires. And don't forget that public executions were regularly held outside these walls during this period.

Prisons in the 1800's were horrific, not far off medieval dungeons. And it is a topic that I plan to spend some time on in a future post, since at least two of my heros are going to spend some time in prison. But we will come to that another day.

In the Regency era came the Greek Revival, led by Sir Robert Smirk. His best known work is the British Museum and in particular the great South Front shown in the picture. Although this was designed in 1823, during the Reign of George IV, it was not completed until 1852. He also designed Covent Garden Theater begun in 1808 and the Royal Mint started in 1809.

These are of course great public works, but they influenced what people wanted when they renovated existing houses and built new ones.

What about the houses people lived in? Well we will get to some of that another time, of course. I have lots and lots to share, but next time I think I will focus on the materials used for building.

Until next time Happy Rambles.