The Georgian Group exists to protect and preserve Georgian
buildings, monuments and landscapes. We were founded in 1937 by a group
led by Lord Derwent, Angus Acworth and Robert Byron, one of the
greatest travel writers of the twentieth century. What united them was
exasperation at the extent and pace of the destruction of Georgian
buildings in Britain, and particularly in London. Masterpieces of
eighteenth century urban architecture, such as Norfolk House in St
James's Square and the Adam Brothers' Adelphi by the Thames (above),
were being destroyed at an alarming rate, and at the whim of their
owners, to make way for new developments. Outside our towns, country
houses were suffering just as badly. An astonishing one in six of them
– many Georgian, and many home to exquisitely-crafted interiors – were
pulled down in the twentieth century.
Byron and his allies were determined to do what they could to save
the Georgian buildings that contributed so much to Britain's
townscapes. They had no legislation to back them up – in the inter-war
period, buildings dating from after 1700 were considered too modern to
qualify for statutory protection, which was extended to ancient
monuments and not much else. As a result, many triumphant creations of
the British Enlightenment were left exposed.
Initially, The Georgian Group was a sub-group of the Society for the
Protection of Ancient Buildings – hence the word 'group' in its title,
which has stuck. But by the early 1940s it had gained enough impetus
and struck enough of a popular chord to function independently.
Throughout the post-war years it played a significant role in saving
individual buildings and arguing successfully for stronger legal
protection for Georgian buildings, monuments and landscapes. It is
partly thanks to the Group that magnificent buildings such as Carlton
House Terrace in The Mall survive – there were serious plans in the
1950s to replace it with a department store. Our influence was also
critical in introducing conservation areas in the 1960s and thus giving
the first formal protection to groups of buildings, such as the superb
Georgian terraces in London, Liverpool, Bath, Exeter and Newcastle.
Today, The Georgian Group is a statutory amenity society in England
and Wales. This means that we must by law be consulted on any planning
applications affecting listed Georgian buildings, monuments, parks and
gardens. There are about 6000 of these every year. Our consultee status
gives us an opportunity to comment constructively on proposals and to
help owners, architects and planning authorities towards better
solutions. Thus, although we have no legal power to prevent buildings
from being demolished or altered, we continue to use our expertise to
exert a highly beneficial influence.
The Georgian Group is a registered charity and depends largely on its members for funding. Find out how you can help us continue our work.