Doors in the Victorian Period

Written by elyse james
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Doors in the Victorian Period
Victorian doors were painted bright colours to attract attention. (Victorian street image by Edward White from

During the Victorian era, the door was one of the most important components to a home. The door was a way of giving a first impression --- the more impressive the door was, the wealthier the homeowners were. Victorian doors were a focal point for the front of a house and were often surrounded by eye-catching fixtures. They were mostly constructed out of wood and panelling with decorative doorknobs and inlaid mortise locks.

Door Surroundings

The surroundings of the door were just as important as the door itself because they enhanced the overall appearance of the entry. Victorian houses often had a set of regal, stone steps that led up to the door. Circular fanlight windows were a common feature and were located above the door to draw the eye upward. More elaborate homes had two, thinner side windows to frame the door and add an extra touch of elegance.


Victorian doors were most commonly constructed of good quality hardwood like beech or oak. Pine was also used because, despite being a soft wood, it is quite dense and durable. For households that could not afford a solid wood door, it was common to paint the door to disguise this fact. Less expensive doors were stained to imitate the colour of high-quality wood. In the Victorian era it was also popular to "ebonize" doors -- paint them black -- to make the door look more dramatic.

Door Knobs

Rounded door knobs became a popular fixture during the Victorian era. The rounded shape was thought to be more streamlined and sophisticated than the upwardly projecting handles of the past. The knob shape was often customised by the owner; flower-shaped and polygon-shaped knobs were popular. Victorian door knobs were made of ceramic, coloured glass or easily malleable metals such as brass. Inside the home, decorative handles were used on the most public rooms.


The mortise lock was developed in the Victorian era and began to replace the rim lock. Mortise locks were set within the door for a sleeker look. One way of distinguishing a wealthy home from that of a working class home was to look at the locks. Wealthier families could afford to update the hardware on their front doors and did so. Later on in the Victorian era, mortise locks increased in popularity because of the escutcheon. Escutcheons were decorative metal plates that slid over the mortise lock opening and added further elegance to the door.

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