Cottages Ornés: The Charms of the Simple Life
by Roger White

Date: Tuesday 22 October 2019

The cottage orné, or ornamental cottage, is an English invention of the mid-18th century and is the only architectural genre to cover the entire social spectrum.

Cottages Ornés: The Charms of the Simple Life

An invention of mid-18th-century England, cottages ornés or ornamental cottages reflected a desire for a more informal way of living. Uniquely, they spanned the entire social spectrum, from small lodges intended to house peasants, through larger examples for the middle classes and aristocracy, right up to those designed for members of the Royal Family such as Queen Charlotte and King George IV.  From English beginnings the genre spread to the rest of the British Isles, to the Continent, and then to British colonies and to the newly-independent United States of America.

Analysing cottage designs by some of the leading architects of late-Georgian England – including Robert Adam, John Soane and John Nash – Roger White explores the aesthetic values that made the form so appealing, and he reveals the significant impact of the genre on social, cultural and political history.

Roger White is a professional architectural historian living in Sherborne. He studied at Christ’s College, Cambridge and Wadham College, Oxford, where he carried out doctoral research into English Palladianism. He has run both the Georgian Group and Garden History Society, and has curated exhibitions on Georgian garden buildings, on Nicholas Hawksmoor, on the English Baroque, and on John Piper. He is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, and his book on the cottage orné genre was published by Yale University Press to general acclaim in 2017.

Back to the previous page