History of Styles- Early Georgian: English Rococo


The Act of Settlement crafted in 1701 meant that after Queen Anne’s reign as monarch, her closest living ‘Protestant’ relative would take her place. At the time of her passing in 1714, George Louis from Hanover, Germany was nominated heir and became King George I. He was the first Hanoverian King of Great Britain, but with many closer catholic relatives to Queen Anne and the fact that George I did not speak (and never learnt) the English language, there were many that were displeased with his succession to the throne.

During his reign, Britain underwent continuing modernisation and shifting times, including the ongoing progression of a cabinet government. The Whigs governed and dominated politics for many years. The monarchy seemed to lose authority within British politics.

Norfolk House Music Room – One of the first examples of a room dedicated to music. Owned by the Duke of Norfolk in 1722, this space illustrates vital fundamentals of Rococo style including gilt carvings, wall panelling and rich fabrics.

George I was very active in foreign policy, establishing an union with France in opposition to Spain in 1718. However a major economic crisis hit Britain in 1720, in which the British international trading corporation ‘South Sea Company’ dissolved. At the time Britain was one of the most affluent and thriving countries in the world within the trading industry. After the War of Spanish Succession, as part of the treaty, Britain was given significant trade deals with Spanish colonies, South America and the West Indies. After the economic breakdown, there was calamity and political ambiguity that lead to uneasiness and disorder within British society.

In 1727, the son of George I, George Augustus became King, with his time as monarch also being dominated by an altering government and opposing political parties causing disruption and conflict.



The Rococo movement materialised in France, where Louis XIV nurtured younger artists and fresher designs to be crafted, shifting away from the strict and symmetry based designs of the previous era. Instead there was attention on detailing, sumptuous ornamentation and bold colours. Palladian style had been expensive and therefore more suited for elite members of society. Rococo style was far more distinct and was embraced by upper and middle classes rather than just the aristocracy, in Britain this became a prevalent design aesthetic. It first appeared in England within the embellishment of silverware engravings and then this grew into more ostentatious designs on plasterwork, gilded furniture and so on. The lack of restrictions and evenness, but instead curved lines and naturalist imagery and motifs proved to be well-liked in early 18th century Britain. In 1735 painter William Hogarth produced St Martins Academy (today known as the Royal Academy of Arts), and it is here that the first Rococo design books were published in Britain. With expanding towns and cities, Georgian housing had to accommodate and the divide of class meant peoples homes reflected their status in life. The more elaborate and rich the details the higher up you were in society.


Produced the first publication of design ideas and patterns called ‘The Gentleman and Cabinet Makers Director’. This was a platform for Rococo influenced furniture such as gilded items. It was a design bible of such with most of the fashions and interior tastes of the time represented.


Published prints of scrollwork motivated by Rococo design. These could be applied to plaster work or woodcarving and were original rather than replicas of French Rococo scrollwork



The Verney family, in social competition with the Temple family, transformed this building into a Rococo palace. There is intricate and exquisite plasterwork mixed with carved wood work, flaunting the sinuous and ornate Rococo designs of the time. A form of decorative art, the ceilings are adorned with lots of curls and scrolls. Later in the 18th century this style of plasterwork fell out of fashion coinciding with the Revolution and European War, as it was seen to be unpatriotic.


Scottish brothers that were known for scenic and exquisite architecture and interiors. They were resourceful at managing substantial projects and paid close attention to the decorative details. There was a mixture of Palladian as well as Rococo style in their work, and one of the central aspects was the introduction of corridors. This meant each room did not open out into one another, but instead there was an adjoining hallway, a practical and functional design element of fluctuating modern tastes. Syon House, and in particular the entrance hall was a great illustration of their eclectic style with large green marble columns and brightly bold marble flooring.