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The Semi-Detached House

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The Semi-Detached House

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The Semi-Detached House

The craze for semi-detached houses really began between the first and second world wars. Architects of the newly expanding leafy suburbs tried to capture the essence of the country cottage, which may account for the rather bizarre collection of features often assembled in your typical suburban semi: false beams, lattice windows, weather-boarding, pebble-dash and fancy herringbone brickwork. Mock Tudor styles were particularly popular too, which is where the bay window comes in – although then, as now, this “Jacobethan” look was derided by the arbiters of taste. The architecture of the semi reflected the changes in English society. These houses were smaller than previously as there was no need to provide rooms for live-in domestic help, and the pairing of houses meant they were more affordable for the increasing numbers of people looking to rent rather than buy. Although many semi-detached houses were built identically and in bulk by developers, the new breed of proud owner-occupiers found ways to customise them in the details. After all, an Englishman’s home is his castle, even though it might share a central wall!

Photo: Maria Gibbs

NOMINATION 1099 OF 1160

Your comments

The Semi-Detached House certainly from the beginning of the twentieth-century brought about a better standard of living to a larger section of the population - from high to low income and the 'Semi' reflected this.

David Robson


You very rarely see them anywhere else
Maria Rainford


I can't think of another country that has used the format of the 'semi' to the extent of England. Larger sprawling countrys have detached housing or flats (condo's) for the suburbs where space is less of a premimum and the need for post war rebuilding was less concentrated. Taken at face value its a bizarre idea that two seperate families share the ownership and mantenance of what is in effect a single building. This seems a tribute to the English reasonableness and pragmatism that this can work so well in thousands of houses.
Clive Steele


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I nominate the red pillar box.

Donna Spencer

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