Victorian coving is one of those period features that adds wow factor to a period property. Watch any TV property program and note the sheer joy that presenters such as kirsty Allsorp, from Channel 4’s location, location, location, show when they walk into a property that has its Victorian decorative features still intact.
The character of a period property is the combination of core features or qualities that distinguishes it from different eras of architectural and interior design. In the case of properties from the Victorian era, these core features and qualities include Victorian fireplaces, wooden sash windows, London stock bricks, and of course, ornate Victorian coving and other decorative plasterwork such as corbels and ceiling roses. When these elements are missing or incorrectly replaced with unsympathetic designs, there can be a sense of something not feeling right. A good analogy would be to imagine a classic car without its chrome trim, or even worse, the same classic car pimped with modern plastic wheel trims and tyres!
It is the combination of period features that work together to make up the character as a whole to give the overall sense of completeness and harmony. Many of the elements of the Victorian era are direct descendants of the famous architect Indigo Jones and his classical palaces erected in northern Italy. Indigo then brought this style to London (see the London Banqueting Hall). The terraced house is inherently classical and the original fireplaces, high ceilings and plasterwork are all just simpler versions of Palladio’s palazzo. A high Victorian ceiling can feel like a barren space without suitable Victorian coving, likewise an original fireplace balances the beauty of a grand bay window. The point is, many of the core victorian period features were there for a reason, not just because they looked pretty but because all of the elements work in unison to subtly add warmth, proportion and bring harmony to the rooms.
It’s inevitable that over time, original character features will be lost to modernisation and development and the victorian character fades away. Thats not say that you can’t bring back that character and add soul to your home. With some plaster moulding detective work and some advice from experts you can discover quite accurately which features your home used to have. When restoring your coving, casts can be made from original Victorian coving and made using traditional methods and then installed by expert fibrous plasterers.