From tudor to today: A guide to Britain’s famous architecture

British architecture is fundamentally unique and deeply-entrenched in local history. We take a look back at some of the most iconic styles and their design considerations...

Whether it's a brand-new build or a period home from last century, one common theme exists in all home design - the influences of functionality reflect the society of the time.

British homes have been providing warmth and shelter for many centuries - and will do for a long time to come - but it's certainly interesting to reflect on how much trends and family life were factored into design.


The quintessential ye olde design, Tudor homes are classic - with a black and white exterior and pitched roofs. From the late 15th century to the early 17th century, this style of home had small windows as glass was very expensive to produce. 

These homes had tall, narrow doorways, wooden or bare dirt floors and living areas on the top level of the dwelling, with the family business taking up residence below.



A post shared by Geraldine Osman (@a_huge_passion_for_history) on


Also known as the Stuart time, from the 1600s to 1700s British homes experienced rapid change. Parlours and dining rooms were the hub of the home, where entertaining and socialising took place. For more weathy families, servants quarters (generally on the top level) were also factored into the layout.

After the Great Fire of London in 1666 destroyed many homes, the government ruled that properties be built from brick, not wood for greater protection against the elements.

The 'Semi'

As compact living became a trend in the 1930s, the size of the typical British home decreased in square footage. Red brick and timber, as well as bay windows with leaded panes were all the rage, and new developments further away from the city centre were attractive prospects to buyers.

The art deco movement of the 1920s and '30s also had an influence in this design, with bold wallpaper and geometric shapes dominating decorating trends.



A post shared by Katie & Co. (@and_life_inbetween) on

Contemporary design

As financial freedoms have increased, so has creativity. These days, British archtecture is largely dominated by designs featuring plenty of natural light and the use of sustainable building materials including reclaimed wood.

Solar power and renewable energies are at the forefront, as well as smart home technology and automation - essential for those living busy lives. Interestingly, while open plan living is the most popular layout of a modern home, building tiny homes with clever, multi-functional design is certainly on the rise.

Stream or watch new episodes of Phil Spencer's History of Britain in 100 Homes, Thursdays 8.30pm on Lifestyle.

Want more? We thought you might like this video.

Like this artice? Subscribe to our newsletter to get more articles like this delivered striaght to your inbox.

By registering you agree to our Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Privacy Notice


Sign Out

Join the Conversation

Please note, LifeStyle cannot respond to all comments posted in our comments feed. If you have a comment or query you would like LifeStyle to respond to, please use our feedback form.