How to Identify a Victorian House / Victorian Architecture

What is A Victorian House?

Victorian architecture is the term used to describe a style of architecture that became popular during the reign of Victoria from 1837-1901. There are a number of features that characterise a typical Victorian property and we analyse some of these below. In general terms, Victorian architecture was more ornate and decorative than the more austere designs that were common in the Georgian era.

Victorian architecture Dublin

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Larger Window Panels & Stained Glass

Plate glass arrived in 1832 and allowed for larger window panes. While Georgian windows often had 6 and even 9 panels per pane, Victorian windows tended to have a lower number of larger panels.

Georgian and Victorian windows

The Georgian building on the left is perfectly symmetrical with up to 15 small panels per window whereas the asymmetrical Victorian building on the right has larger panes of glass.

Bay Windows

Bay windows are a very common feature of Victorian properties. These are in stark contrast to the flat “cliff edge” facades of Georgian buildings. In the below street-view of a Victorian building, you will see a number of two storey bay windows. If you look closely, the date stamp in the centre of the building is visible and is 1894, putting it squarely in the Victorian era.

Victorian Bay Windows

Towers & Turrets

Unlike the more austere architecture of Georgian buildings, Victorian architecture regularly included decorative and imaginative towers and turrets. In the street-view below of Patrick’s Bridge in Cork, the juxtaposition of the tower and bay windows of the Victorian property on the right with the cliff-face, austere Georgian buildings on the left is stark and really serves to highlight the difference in styles between both eras.

Victorian Tower & Turret

Typical Georgian & Victorian Architecture in Cork


Decorative Bargeboards

An ornate and decorative bargeboard is a common feature of Victorian properties.

victorian bargeboard

Ornate Bargeboard & steep pitched roof on traditional Victorian property above.

Decorative Gables

Over the centuries, builders have used various techniques to decorate the gable ends of properties. In the below image, the decorative mock timber framing is a common trait of Victorian properties.

decorative mock timber frame Victorian gable

Asymmetric Design

While symmetry is very much associated with the earlier Georgian era, Victorian architecture was less concerned with strict adherence to symmetry, often preferring instead more complex and decorative designs. Of course, there are multitudes of examples of symmetrical Victorian buildings as there are no rules but asymmetry is far more prevalent in Victorian buildings than Georgian as per the below property.

typical asymmetric Victorian design

No Garages / Parking

Cars weren’t invented until the end of the Victorian era and as such victorian properties tend to have no garages or space for parking. In the row of terraced Victorian properties below, cars park on the street as there is no space for them at the front of the property.

victorian property with no parking

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Where to Find Victorian Architecture in Ireland

As all of Ireland was part of the UK throughout the 19th century, British architecture continued to have a strong influence in Ireland throughout the Victorian era. Fantastic examples of Victorian property are to be found throughout Ireland. We’ve included some examples below but just by keeping an eye out, you are sure to see beautiful Victorian architecture throughout Ireland.

Esplanade Hotel, Bray, Co. Wicklow

The Esplanade Hotel, Bray, Co Wicklow

The Esplanade Hotel in Bray, Co Wicklow is a truly magnificent example of Victorian architecture as it really has it all. Bay windows, asymmetrical complex design, decorative bargeboards, towers and turrets, large glass pane sash windows and intricate iron railings are all present and make for a stunning and imposing building. In fact, a whole host of splendid Victorian properties are to be found all along Strand Road in Bray – we have featured an example below that we found on our Google Street View travels, just next door to the Esplanade.

Typical Victorian Architecture, Bray, Co Wicklow

Beautiful Traditional Victorian Architecture, Bray, Co Wicklow

Typical Victorian Architecture, Rathgar, Co Dublin

Beautiful Traditional Victorian Architecture, Rathgar, Dublin

Victoria Road, Cork

Traditional Victorian Architecture, Victoria Road, Cork

Victoria Road Cork, so named after Queen Victoria, features a stunning collection of Victorian properties so is definitely worth a street view or even a visit.