Peek Inside the Typical Regency Era Townhouse, by Sharon Lathan

Peek Inside the Typical Regency Era Townhouse, by Sharon Lathan

Have you ever wondered about the inside layout of a typical London townhouse? Of course, there were variations in design, size, styling, and decor to these upper-crust neighborhood dwellings. For the wealthy, money was not a huge concern. On the other hand, land was a premium commodity and the narrow, often oddly shaped lots created a challenge for the architect. The following cutouts and floor plans from townhouses built during the Georgian and Regency periods give an idea of what was standard.

1750 London townhouse
1750 townhouse (click to enlarge)

 

The standard London townhouse of the 18th century was a brick-built, flat-fronted house on four or five floors with regularly spaced sash windows and often a canopy over the front door. As in the previous century, the ground floor was sometimes used as a shop or for running a business and the houses were built on the line of the pavement with no front garden.

Layout of a house on Charles Street in Berkeley Square.
Georgian dollhouse
Georgian dollhouse (click for larger view)
1720 Georgian
Etching from 1720

 

The Regency Town House was built on what had already become the traditional layout for town houses. The domestic offices for the servants were in the basement, the formal rooms were on the ground and first floors and the bedrooms on the floors above. Due to higher land prices in towns, even large houses tended to be built upwards on long, narrow plots. At the back of the house there was a coach house, stable block and quarters for the coachmen and grooms.

Grosvenor plan

British History Online has several pages of house plans and descriptions for Grosvenor Square before 1926: HERE  

 

townhouse cutout

 

Not all Georgian townhouses were narrow, however. Wealth afforded wider street-front property in the posh residential neighborhoods such as Kensington, Mayfair, and St. James. Some of the mansions built within these districts leaned toward being independent houses rather than true townhouses with joined side walls. The image below of Lansdowne House on Berkeley Square is difficult to read, but note the corner location, enormous walled courtyard, and huge rooms. The map down further shows the location on a lovely single lot between two streets, another example of London city living.

 

1765 Lansdowne
Plans of Lansdowne (Shelbourne) House 1765, designed by Robert Adam as a private house and for most of its time as a residence it belonged to the Petty-FitzMaurice family, Marquesses of Lansdowne and earls of Shelbourne (hence the name Shelbourne on the plan).
Selfridge_LansdowneHouse_Greenwood'sMapLondon1830edited_wiki
Note Lansdowne House between Charles & Bolton Streets, SW corner of Berkeley Square.

A wonderful resource on English houses through the eras is this book, written in 1864 by Robert Kerr and available on Google Books: The Gentleman’s House, or How to Plan English Residences.

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17 COMMENTS
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martika
martika
June 15, 2022 3:20 PM

Thank you for your research and putting this information together! I know that internal walls were added or removed throughout the years for repairs or improvements, which makes it difficult to get precise room use and layout information for a specific period. Even the images provided here vary between the 1700s and 1900s. Still, it’s helpful for the mind’s eye! I just wish I could find better information regarding the back of the houses, whether they were courtyards, terraces, or gardens before finally reaching the the mews and stables.

Sue
Sue
February 13, 2021 7:16 PM

This really brings the books I read to life. I can really picture the houses now. They always sound so spacious, but a modest townhouse isn’t that much larger than my small old house. Thanks for the wealth of information.

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Michelle H
Michelle H
December 12, 2020 7:23 PM

Great post. I could pour over those floor plans till Christmas and not get anything else done. Fascinating. And where are the bedrooms??? I always envision something much more spacious when I read any Regency. I loved the Grosvenor Street floor plans; three rooms for wine, one for small beer, and one for ale.

junewilliams7
December 11, 2020 11:17 AM

This is a lovely and very helpful post, Sharon! Seeing the floorplans for these narrow vertical homes makes me less envious of a “London townhome”. No wonder Darcy preferred being at Pemberley, and Bingley wanted his own estate instead of sharing a townhome with his sisters and brother-in-law. Being in a townhome must have been very confining after an estate.

Ginna
Ginna
March 30, 2020 1:43 PM

I’ve wondered also about townhouses in London, especially when the author of a book includes a ballroom! Last year, I stayed in a townhouse near Hyde Park. It was very narrow, much narrower than the ones included in this post. The entry hallway went in along the inner wall, with the stairs also going up along the inner wall. There was one room to the right of the entryway. The house was not too deep, only 4 rooms maybe, although it extended a little further back when in the basement. I was staying on the entry floor, right behind reception, so did not have a reason to go upstairs to see what it was like. There was no room for a ballroom in this place!

darcybennett
October 8, 2019 9:59 AM

I have always wondered what a London townhouse looked like. This reminded me of a recent conversation I had with someone who grew up in London who was telling me that the homes there are much smaller than in the U.S.

Jennifer Redlarczyk
Jennifer Redlarczyk
October 5, 2019 9:21 AM

Love this post as I am always wondering about the homes during our favorite era. Thanks so much for sharing.

Gianna Thomas
AuAu
October 4, 2019 10:00 PM

Interesting post, Sharon. I did wonder about the number of bedrooms in a townhouse. It looked like there was only one bedroom or possibly two at most. Was that typical for a townhouse versus a regular house because of the lack of property? I do wonder as Richard usually has a bedroom consigned to him and occasionally other guests show up at Darcy’s home in London. And Darcy and Georgiana would have separate rooms and possibly Darcy’s wife when he marries. Are we stretching circumstances a bit from the reality? 🙂

Ellie Bennett
Ellie Bennett
October 2, 2019 2:49 AM

Very interesting! Btw ‘Peak’ should read Peek – different meaning.

Linny B
Linny B
October 2, 2019 2:22 AM

This was fascinating and so full of interesting information. Thank you for taking the time to share.

kyleswaters
October 2, 2019 1:14 AM

Thank you for sharing. I loved this.

summerhanford
summerhanford
October 1, 2019 8:25 PM

This post is so great and so useful! Thank you 🙂

Glynis
Glynis
October 1, 2019 11:52 AM

I love these posts Sharon! I think you posted something similar once before but if so it definitely bears repeating. I absolutely love that gorgeous dolls house! My daughter had a Sindy House and a shop made for her by my Dad. He made most of the accessories as well – fabulous job!
I really enjoy seeing the cross sections and how the families occupied these houses. This, fashion posts and your ‘guess what it is’ posts are my favourite way of learning Regency history. Thank you.

cindie snyder
cindie snyder
October 1, 2019 10:38 AM

What a cool post! The houses really are something, I would have hated to have to clean them!lol

Lucy
Lucy
October 1, 2019 8:53 AM

Very interesting. Thank you, Sharon!

Buturot
October 1, 2019 8:37 AM

This is awesome info Sharon. While I was reading this and looking at the houses, I am also imagining FD, ED and GD moving in it with their hourse guests etc. Thank you for sharing

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