The Queen Anne style in Britain refers to either the English Baroque architectural style approximately of the reign of Queen Anne (reigned 1702–1714), or a revived form that was popular in the last quarter of the 19th century and the early decades of the 20th century (when it is also known as Queen Anne revival). In British architecture the term is mostly used of domestic buildings up to the size of a manor house, and usually designed elegantly but simply by local builders or architects, rather than the grand palaces of noble magnates.
The well-known architectural commentator and author Marcus Binney, writing in in 2006, describes Poulton House built in 1706, during the reign of Queen Anne, as "...Queen Anne at its most delightful". Binney lists what he describes as the typical features of the style:
- a sweep of steps leading to a carved stone door-case
- rows of painted sash windows in boxes set flush with the brickwork
- a central triangular pediment set against a hipped roof with dormers
- typically box-like "double pile" plans, two rooms deep
When used of revived "Queen Anne style" of the 19th and 20th century the historic reference in the name should not be taken too literally, as buildings in the Queen Anne style often bear as little resemblance to English buildings of the 18th century as those of any revival style to the original. Furthermore, the Queen Anne style in other parts of the English-speaking world, particularly in the United States and Australia, is significantly different from that in the United Kingdom, and may hardly include any elements typical of the actual architecture of Anne's reign.
British 19th-century Queen Anne style
George Devey (1820–1886) and the better-known Norman Shaw (1831–1912) popularized the Queen Anne style of British architecture of the industrial age in the 1870s. Norman Shaw published a book of architectural sketches as early as 1858, and his evocative pen-and-ink drawings began to appear in trade journals and artistic magazines in the 1870s. (American commercial builders quickly adopted the style.)
Shaw's eclectic designs often included Tudor elements, and this "Old English" style also became popular in the United States, where it became known (inaccurately) as the Queen Anne style. Confusion between buildings constructed during the reign of Queen Anne and the "Queen Anne" Style still persists, especially in England.
In the late 1850s the name "Queen Anne" was in the air, following publication in 1852 of William Makepeace Thackeray's novel. One minor side-effect of Thackeray's novel and of Norman Shaw's freehand picturesque vernacular Renaissance survives to this day. When, in the early 1870s, Chinese-inspired Early Georgian furniture on cabriole legs, featuring smooth expanses of walnut, and chairs with flowing lines and slat backs began to be looked for in out-of-the-way curio shops (Macquoid 1904), the style was mis-attributed to the reign of Queen Anne, and the "Queen Anne" misnomer has stuck to this day, in American as well as English furniture-style designations. (Even the most stylish and up-to-date furnishings of the historical reign of Queen Anne, as inventories reveal, used a style that 21st-century connoisseurs would immediately identify as "William and Mary".)
The British Victorian version of the style empathises more closely with the Arts and Crafts movement than does its American counterpart. A good example is Severalls Hospital in Colchester, Essex (1913–1997), now defunct. The historic precedents of the Queen Anne style were broad:
- fine brickwork, often in a warmer, softer finish than the Victorians characteristically used, varied with terracotta panels, or tile-hung upper stories, with crisply-painted white woodwork, or blond limestone detailing
- corner towers
- asymmetrical fronts and picturesque massing
- Flemish mannerist sunken panels of strapwork
- deeply shadowed entrances
- broad porches
- a domesticated free Renaissance style.
When an open architectural competition took place in 1892 for a County Hall (see photo, right) to be built in Wakefield, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, the instructions to competitors noted that "the style of architecture will be left to the competitors but the Queen Anne or Renaissance School of Architecture appears suited to an old town like Wakefield" (ref. Wakefield). The executed design, by architects James Gibson and Samuel Russell of London, combines a corner turret, grandly domed and with gargoyles at the angles, freely combined with Flemish Renaissance stepped gables.
American Queen Anne style
In the United States, the so-called "Queen Anne style" is loosely used of a wide range of picturesque buildings with "free Renaissance" (non-Gothic Revival) details rather than of a specific formulaic style in its own right. "Queen Anne", as an alternative both to the French-derived Second Empire and the less "domestic" Beaux-Arts architecture, is broadly applied to architecture, furniture and decorative arts of the period 1880 to 1910; some "Queen Anne" architectural elements, such as the wraparound front porch, continued to be found into the 1920s.
The gabled and domestically scaled, "Queen Anne" style arrived in New York City with the new housing for the New York House and School of Industry Sidney V. Stratton, architect, 1878). Distinctive features of American Queen Anne style (rooted in the English style) may include an asymmetrical façade; dominant front-facing gable, often cantilevered out beyond the plane of the wall below; overhanging eaves; round, square, or polygonal tower(s); shaped and Dutch gables; a porch covering part or all of the front facade, including the primary entrance area; a second-story porch or balconies; pedimented porches; differing wall textures, such as patterned wood shingles shaped into varying designs, including resembling fish scales, terra cotta tiles, relief panels, or wooden shingles over brickwork, etc.; dentils; classical columns; spindle work; oriel and bay windows; horizontal bands of leaded windows; monumental chimneys; painted balustrades; and wooden or slate roofs. Front gardens often had wooden fences.