Spotting the Victorian home

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  Can you spot a Victorian House just by the outside?

The Victorian period started in 1837 when Queen Victoria came to the throne of England and lasted until 1901 when she died.

Today, we have many materials and technology that was not available in the late 1800′s and early 1900′s.  It is quite easy to remodel a Victorian home.
How can you tell if the house is from the Victorian period? Well, these could be some clues…

  Clue #1:  Outside brick work

It’s rare that an owner will change the brickwork.  Some owners will change it, but if the owner wants to preserve the history of the house, he may very well just replace what bricks need to be replaced.  Mind you that could involve lots of work and maybe some headaches, but it can still be done.

Buildings from the early centuries have stood the test of time and so many are still standing strong today.  A real testament to the quality of the work and the materials used.

Most houses were built of red or orange colored bricks.  That was the standard.  The homes were built using the Flemish brick bond which consists of bricks placed in the  header, stretcher, header, stretcher positions.  The long side of a brick is called the stretcher and the end of the brick is called the header.  You can always Google more information on this.




  Clue #2;  Roofing material:

A great many houses had roofs made of slate.  I had never heard of slate, so this is what I read:
“Slate is a type of metamorphic rock which is highly durable and very very heavy”.

It seems they made tiles of slate to put on the roof.  Since slate is very heavy, the interior of the house needed to have good supports to hold the roof up.
Slate tiles are still available for home owners who have the original roof on their home and just replace the ones that are broken,  but these tiles are used less for roofing and more for other things, like tombstones,and commemorative tablets.

In the past, laboratory bench tops,billiard table tops and school black boards used slate tiles, but again with today’s technology, lighter materials are available.

Clue #3:  Garages

Victorian houses were built in a time when not many people had cars. The German Karl Benz is acknowledged as the inventor of the modern automobile in 1885.  He sold 25 automobiles between 1888 and 1893.  So as you can see, not many cars were on the road in Queen Victoria’s lifetime.

People either walked, traveled by boat or train or used horse drawn carriages or coaches to get around and do things. In 1840 the first bicycle to have pedals was invented by a Scottish man named Kirkpatrick Macmillan.  So naturally, the “Victorians” did not need another building beside the house.  Of course today nothing stops the owner from adding a garage on the property, if there is room.

  Clue #4: Chimneys

This next part might be a little tricky.  Chimneys.  The fireplace was the only source of heat to keep warm.  There was no electricity, so no central heating and no radiators.  Most rooms had fireplaces.  So if you see a house with more than one chimney sticking out of the roof, that’s  a clue right there.





In this modern age, we have electricity and radiators and more ways to heat that don’t need to cut down our trees.   I don’t know if an owner  would completely dismantle a chimeny on the roof?  If I had a chimeney, I would find a way to completely and permanently  close off the hole at the top still leaving the chimeny column up and I would scrub out and wash out the inside of the chimeney all the way up the column to the top.

Then I would use the fireplace “hole” / space to decorate.  Here imagination is just great.  Let yourself go nuts with this idea.

  Clue #6:  Windows

With today’s technology and the fact that some, not all home owners of Victorian houses have today changed their windows to more modern ones, trying to use the  windows to try and  to spot a Victorian home is almost impossible.  Your best bet is to study the brick work.

In Victorian times, the home had two types of windows, the sash windows and the bay windows.  True Victorian windows had six and later four paned vertical sliding sash windows with a single glazing bar down the middle.

These types of windows are the ones that slide all the way up, or they slide from side to side.   Even though they provide an advantage in cooling off a room in hot weather, and it is easy to clean all the glass from the inside just by sliding the two windows in different positions,  they were plagued with a few problems.

They were manly made of wood and so were prone to rot, and distort with the swelling  or shrinkage of the frame.  This would cause the windows to rattle in windy weather.As time went on and  technology improved, new sash windows have been developed to look like the traditional windows of olden times but they are made of better materials to avoid the problems above.

Typical Victorian bay windows are often associated with Victorian Architecture.   Bay windows are three sided and are used to provide the illusion of a larger room.  They also increase the flow of natural light into the room at the same time the view to look out is considerably enhanced.  Bay windows are very popular in all kinds of buildings.

Two other things that were used widely were stained glass windows and iron railings. Today stained glass is easily available and so anyone could install a door or a window to their home or their apartment and iron railings are very popular everywhere.
Things have changed so much in the last hundred years.  Today it is very easy to build a true Victorian home.  Don’t forget I’m not talking about how expensive it could be.  I’m talking about the technology and the materials and the know how that is available for use in this project.