Edwardian Style (1901-1910)

Also known as Edwardian Baroque is considered as an eclectic interpretation of Neo-Classical and Neo-Baroques styles and a continuation o Victorian Style. It spread in the first ten years of ‘900 and became popular during the kingdom of Edward VII, first in the UK and later in almost every part of the English Empire.

Port of Liverpool Building.

Image source: https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barocco_edoardiano#/media/File:Port_of_Liverpool_Building_Dome.jpg

Who was Edward VII?

Albert Edward (1841-1910) has been King of the United Kingdom and Emperor of India under the name of Edward The VII from 1901 to 1910.

Initially hopeful for a military career (which was firmly denied as he was the throne heir), he eventually became king at 59 with main interests in military, naval, and foreign matters. He was known as the “Uncle of Europe” as he was related to almost every monarch. His main contributes are to reforms in society, the army, and the general modernization of the nation.

He died in 1910 and was buried in St George’s Chapel in Windsor. His son George later became the new king.

portrait photograph of Edward VII

Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_VII

Something about the Edwardian Era

The Edwardian Era spanned from 1901 (the death of Queen Victoria) to 1911 and marked the return of a somewhat Liberal influence in the UK. Working classes, laborers, and women started playing a significant role in the politics of the Kingdom. Gender roles shifted, factories’ living standards were made better and death rates declined in urban areas.

This period is sadly well known for being the time in which a significant decline for the British fleet and commercial dominance would occur. The Royal Navy became outnumbered all around the world due to uprising foreign economies (French, Russian, Italian, Japanese, American) catching up to the tremendous British economic powerhouse. Nevertheless, the Edwardian Era is also a period of relative peace and prosperity for the English with a decent growth rate and no huge depressions.

Speaking about the design style, it’s safe to say that it’s not too far away from the Victorian one. However, the ornament density is lower with less complex decorative patterns and elements.

1911 Rolls-Royce 40-50 HP Silver Ghost Roi des Belges Tourer

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/908716f2-6166-41b0-94c1-a74cdd770e11 by Motor74

About the architectural style

The characterizing features of the Edwardian style draw their inspiration from the French style of the 18th century, the English Baroque, and the Victorian Style.

The main features of the style are the rustication of the ground level, domed corner rooftop pavilions, exaggerated keystones, ionic order columns (oftentimes paired), domed towers, and generally less decorative clutter than the Victorian style. The buildings tend to be colored in lighter hues such as light brown or shades of white but we notice that if the brickwork is present it will be red most of the time. Edwardian homes will also be recognized by wooden frames on the porch, wide hallways, and parquet floors.

Even though there are more than a few important buildings raised and made “Edwardian”, it needs to be said that the majority of the structures built using this style were high tier houses for wealthy people.

The Antrim House, an Edwardian example in Wellington (New Zealand).

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/6f3e261b-1d41-441a-b4db-d7667eb695e2 by 4nitsirk

The Edwardian style today

It is stunning how San Francisco has so many Edwardian houses yet it is so far away from the UK. Turns out that in 1906 an earthquake and a fire destroyed the city, so at the time the people just rebuilt their homes in a contemporary style. We can find plenty of these houses in heavily rebuilt areas like SOMA, Mission, and the downtown.

Edwardian houses in San Francisco; the downtown in the background.

Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Houses_in_San_Francisco.jpg

Info sources: https://www.royal.uk/edward-vii

https://www.britannica.com/topic/20th-century-international-relations-2085155/Completing-the-alliance-systems-1890-1907

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edwardian_architecture#Architectural_influences

https://theculturetrip.com/north-america/usa/california/articles/a-brief-history-of-edwardian-homes-in-sf-and-how-to-spot-them/