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Friday, May 25

London Houses in Jane Austen's Day

Louis Simond was a French emigre who lived in America. He spent over 6 months in London in 1810, describing the customs and manners of the British in a book that is now entitled An American in Regency England.

During his tour of England, Louis met and talked to people from all walks of life. He observed every day and momentous events of that era, and visited the countryside, describing with a keen mind what he saw and ate and who he met.

If you read French, you can click here for a short description of his life.

Here is Louis' description of a typical London Townhouse:

Each family occupy a whole house, unless very poor. There are advantages and disadvantages attending this custom. Among the first, the being more independent of the noise, the dirt, the contagious disorders, or the dangers of your neighbour's fires, and having a more complete home. On the other hand, an apartment all on one floor, even of a few rooms only, looks much better, and is more convenient. These narrow houses, three or four stories high - one for eating, one for sleeping, a third for company, a fourth under ground for the kitchen, a fifth perhaps at top for the servants - and the agility, the ease, the quickness with which the individuals of the family run up and down, and perch on the different stories, give the idea of a cage with its sticks and birds.
Bow fronts, Palladian windows, symmetry, graceful linesand neoclassical touches were the hallmarks of the Regency town house as depicted in the two illustrations above.
In this image of a Georgian townhouse, you can easily see the four to five stories that Louis Simond described, with part of the basement evident from the street.

1 comment:

eric3000 said...

I'm fascinated by townhouse layouts. I think of the similar type of small multi-story townhouse existing in London and New York and even Amsterdam during that period. I never really thought about how this model would have been very different from Paris or other European cities. Interesting.