How nine years of Re­gency de­signed the look of Lon­don

A panel of ex­perts de­bate which ar­chi­tec­tural styles de­fine the Lon­don look­book. Anna White re­ports

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Front Page -

Revered for its ro­tunda, col­umns and deep sash win­dows, The Holme in Re­gent’s Park in­stantly trans­ports the on­looker to the cap­i­tal’s hey­day of splen­dour. Ian Nairn, the ar­chi­tec­tural critic, wrote: “If you want a def­i­ni­tion of Western civil­i­sa­tion in a sin­gle view, then here it is.” The view of the proud Pal­la­dian villa has now been de­light­ing Lon­don­ers for 200 years, and ar­guably rep­re­sents the most im­por­tant ar­chi­tec­tural phase in the Lon­don look­book. But much has changed since that decade of the Ge­or­gian era. Our panel of ex­perts choose the more re­cent styles of ar­chi­tec­ture, listed here in chrono­log­i­cal order, which they feel best sum up the spirit of Lon­don.

1 RE­GENCY REIGNS

“Lon­don had never been as beau­ti­ful as it be­came dur­ing the Re­gency years, and it will never be that beau­ti­ful again,” says David Hills, a part­ner at Pur­cell UK and the lead ar­chi­tect on the restora­tion of Bat­tersea Power Sta­tion.

In the nine-year spell that the so­cialite Prince Re­gent, later Ge­orge IV, manned the throne (1811 to 1820), res­i­den­tial de­sign strayed from the Ge­or­gian for­mula of straight lines, sym­me­try and sim­ple brick­work. Through the use of por­ti­cos, col­umns, ped­i­ments and em­bel­lish­ments, the prince and his band of pro­gres­sive ar­chi­tects showed a new will­ing­ness to think out­side the box, ar­gues Hills. “They un­shack­led them­selves from strict, min­i­mal­ist rules and a loose­ness came to the fore. Tastes were chang­ing and this new breed of ar­chi­tect was not afraid to add stat­ues to the top of ped­i­ments, which would have been seen as vul­gar by the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion.”

One such ar­chi­tect was John Nash, friend to the Prince Re­gent, who trans­formed Henry VIII’s hunt­ing ground into the Re­gent’s Park we know to­day. His plans de­tailed a lake, a canal, 56 vil­las (only eight were built, in­clud­ing The Holme) and a sum­mer palace (also never built). Nash was also re­spon­si­ble for the pala­tial ter­races of stucco-fronted town­houses that line the park.

Such dec­o­ra­tive fa­cades were rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the flam­boy­ance of the fop­pish Prince Re­gent, mocked in Black­ad­der the Third for over­spend­ing on socks. But he was the first monarch to put real en­ergy into con­struc­tion and master-plan­ning, com­mis­sion­ing rows of town­houses for the wealthy and mod­est streets for the con­struc­tion work­ers who were cre­at­ing his Lon­don legacy.

“To this day when a tourist pic­tures Lon­don they see Buck­ing­ham Palace,” which re­ceived its royal ren­o­va­tion in the 1820s, says Becky Fatemi of Rok­stone es­tate agency. “It’s the epit­ome of Re­gency.” The av­er­age buyer can’t get their hands on Buck­ing­ham Palace, of course, so the top end of the mar­ket looks for rar­ity. “They want the house at the cen­tre of the ter­race, the only pen­t­house in a block, or the prop­erty with the high­est ceil­ing,” she says. The Nash vil­las in Re­gent’s Park (and there are plenty on the mar­ket) sell for tens of mil­lions, or rent for around £35,000 per week.

NASH NOS­TAL­GIA The Holme, main, was built 200 years ago as part of John Nash’s orig­i­nal lay­out of Re­gent’s Park A three-bed­room, end-of-ter­race Vic­to­rian house in Stoke New­ing­ton is £1.2 mil­lion with Fox­tons

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