For centuries, iron has been employed in architectural elements. Its use became more extensive as mining and production techniques improved. By the mediaeval period Age Wrought iron was being used to create sophisticated architectural designs. During the 18th century. With the adoption of cast iron and new production technologies, the appeal of wrought iron was boosted its even more. By the time we reached the Georgian era, the consistent design of cast iron complimented the fashion of the time.
Georgian architecture is well recognised known for its symmetry and proportion. In those days, members of the upper classes travelled across Europe to visit the great antiquity sites. These young travellers were so taken with the design aspects of classical building that they returned home resolved to recreate what they had observed.
Another railing feature of the early Georgian period is the pineapple, they can be seen everywhere in London, not just on railings but also on rooftops, entrances and doors of private houses and spires of important building. Apart from their decorative qualities, pineapples were a symbol of wealth and status. In the 18th century, pineapples cost the equivalent of around £5,000 but people could rent pineapples out for the night if they were having a dinner party, using them as a centrepiece to demonstrate their wealth.
Designing with mathematical gadgets had also become commonplace. The Golden Ratio (a similar mathematical calculation to the Rule of Thirds in photography), for example, was frequently utilised to determine window placement. Georgian railings reflect this emphasis on harmony and consistency. Simple designs with square or circular railing bars topped with spiky finials characterise most wrought iron railings from this era. Geometric components are the only other ornamental features.
In towns like Edinburgh, Bristol, Bath, and London, Georgian mansions and railings are widespread. The railings just outside 10 Downing Street, which have elongated spike heads with simple urn heads on every twelfth railing bar, are perhaps the most obvious example of the design. The Gothic Revival finally surpassed it in popularity throughout the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
The Gothic style has never fully gone out of favour in the United Kingdom, with some examples dating back to the Georgian period. However, this style did not begin to influence private and public buildings in Britain until the start of the Victorian era.
The differences with the classical style are dramatic: minutely detailed stone and metal work replaces basic lines and columns. Although just around the corner and in complete contrast from Downing Street, the railing of The Houses of Parliament, which were completely rebuilt in 1840 are dominated by a multitude of spires, gargoyles, and stained glass, and are one of the best examples of this era.
New inspirations in metal work design emerged around the turn of the century. The Arts and Crafts Movement’s organic aspects and Art Nouveau’s organic lines were among them. These elements were fused with features of classical and Gothic architecture by Edwardian architects.
The outcome is designs that combine this period’ symmetry with the Victorian era’s extravagant Gothic motifs.
Albeit on a much lesser scale than Victorian examples, Edwardian railings usually include some complex or ornamental aspects. Simple circular railing bars with ornamental heads for example. Or, on occasion, the use of infill panels.
Today of course, each property is different. Just as many period railings were designed to a follow a particular period style, you can now design your railings to your own specifications without having to follow any specific style or trend.
Use our FREE ironwork design tool and start designing not only your own wrought iron railings and gates but also your handrail and balustrades.