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Timeline of Britain's Buildings

The architecture of Britain has evolved throughout history and has been influenced by many things, including the occupation of the Roman's, the domination of England on other parts of the world, the design creativity of individuals you picked up on elements of grand design from their trips to Europe and beyond, through to technological advances of today and will no doubt go on evolving into the future.

Here we have produced a table ordered by the period in history, looking at the major developments that took place at that time and listing some of the examples of buildings that still survive today and therefore you can visit.

Period Major Developments Example Buildings


community based structures, from excavations carried out it is assumed mainly circular in nature

Stonehenge, Wiltshire

Avebury, Wiltshire

Cadbury Castle, Somerset

Example Round Houses can be found at Living History museums in England and Wales.


Built first cities and towns

Road systems, creating streets

Structures built with Brick

Hypocausts supplying hot water


Communal Baths

Roman Baths, Somerset

Hadrian's Wall

Fishbourne Roman Palace, West Sussex


Mainly made of wood.

Use of Ashlar Masonry in combination with reused Roman Brick.

Typically high and narrow, usually accompanied with a West Tower.

Small windows with rounded or triangular tops deeply splayed or in groups divided by squat columns.

Only examples left are churches, although most of those left today are Norman, no major Anglo Saxon church survives.

Earls Barton Church, Northamptonshire

Bradford on Avon Church, Wiltshire

Norman (Medieval)

Destroyed all of England's existing cathedrals and built Romanesque ones.

Rounded arches

Arcades supported by cylindrical piers

Low relief sculpture decoration

Decorative Chevron patterns

Motte and Bailey Castles

Durham Cathedral

St Albans Cathedral, Hertfordshire

White Tower, Tower of London

Domestic examples include:

Haddon Hall, Derbyshire

Jews House, Lincoln

Oakham Castle, Rutland (a fortified manor house)

Gothic (Medieval)

Influenced by France

Columns composed of multiple shafts

Large windows - often stained glass and subdivided by decorative stone tracery.

Pointed arches, rib vaults, flying buttresses and pinnacles

Large Gatehouses on castles

Salisbury Cathedral, Wiltshire

Wells Cathedral, Somerset

Westminster Hall, London

Vernacular (Medieval)

Constructed of wood

Wattle and Daub, clay or Turf

Based around a Great Hall with a bay at each end split into two one for service rooms the other for owners.

Ightham Mote, Kent

Alfriston Clergy House, Sussex

Stokesay Castle, Shropshire


Moved away from defence structures to those for entertaining.

Tudor Arch

Increased use of Glass

Hampton Court Palace

Longleat House, Wiltshire

Montacute House, Somerset

Hatfield House, Hertfordshire

Hardwick Hall, Derybshire


Palladian style from Italy influenced by Inigo Jones

Following the Great Fire of London

Sir Christopher Wren

Baroque style - included heavy embellishment and mass

Queens House, Greenwich


St Paul's Cathedral, London

Chatsworth House, Derbyshire

Castle Howard, Yorkshire

Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire


European Palladianism

Urban development

Introduction of crescents and terraces.

Woburn Abbey, Bedfordshire

Kedleston Hall, Derbyshire

Georgian Terrace Bath, Somerset

Mayfair, London


Romantic Medieval Gothic

Introduction of steel as a building component

Palace of Westminster

20th Century

Arts and Crafts

Non symmetrical design

Mullioned or Lattice windows

Multiple Gables

Tall chimneys

Art Deco

Red House, Bexleyheath, Kent

Castell Coch, Cardiff

Manchester Central Library

Modernism (20th Century)

Following World War II cost dictated designs, however it did still evolve with Brutalism - many are now being redeveloped.

Re-inforced concrete frames.

Prefabricated buildings

Metal frames

Concrete cladding

High Rise housing

Barbican Arts Centre, London

Royal National Theatre, London

Bracknell, Berkshire (town centre)

High-Tech (20th Century)

Mainly used in non-domestic buildings

Lloyds Building, London

Millennium Dome

Post Modern (20th Century)

Fashionable in the 1980's with shopping malls and office complexes

Broadgate, London

Neo-Classical (20th Century)



Contemporary (20th Century)



Gateshead Millennium Bridge

London Eye

The Gherkin, London


See Also:

Britain's Buildings

List of historic buildings and architects of the United Kingdom

List of British architects

Lists of Grade I listed buildings in England by county

Timeline of Architectural Styles


By: Tracey Park Section: Heritage Key:
Page Ref: buildings_timeline Topic: Discussion Last Updated: 06/2011

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