Ornamental Gate Designs: How the Different Styles Originated And What They Mean

Ornamental driveway gates are strong, secure, and long-lasting. However, many homeowners favour these gates because of the way they look. Indeed, classically inspired ornamental gates exude an air of luxury and evoke the past with their old-world charm. Here’s more information about the various ornamental gate styles.

classic ornamental iron gate

The History of Ornamental Gate Designs

To understand the origins and evolution of ornamental gates, it helps to be familiar with the history of wrought iron, which, up until the late 19th century, was the sole material used to make ornamental fences and gates.

The term “wrought” comes from the word work, which is telling. This is because wrought iron is, in fact, iron that’s been moulded and worked into intricate designs.

The first wrought iron railings were manufactured in the 15th century, which became possible thanks to blast furnaces becoming more sophisticated.

Most early examples of wrought iron are panels and other decorative elements that were placed in churches. However, starting in 17th century, wrought iron fences and gates became increasingly popular in countries such as England, France, and the United States. They were prized among property owners not only for their elegance and charm but also because of their strength and durability.

wrought iron details of ornamental gate

In the second half of the century, cast iron was used to make ornamental gates as well. Cast iron is strong but also brittle and much less malleable than wrought iron. It therefore can’t be used to make intricate designs. However, since the process of casting iron is much less labour-intensive than that of producing wrought iron, cast iron soon became the prominent material used to make railings and gates.

In the late 19th century, steel became the dominant material used to make ornamental fences, which is even easier to manufacture. Plus, unlike cast iron, steel is malleable, and it can be moulded into the elaborate designs that are characteristic of wrought iron railings.

Today, most ornamental gates are made of steel. However, aluminum has also become a popular option. Though less robust than steel, aluminum is lightweight and pliable. Cast iron and wrought iron gates are less common but are far from being obsolete.

vintage photograph of Edwardian style group

Classic Ornamental Gate Styles

Historically, England was the trend-setter for iron fences and gates. The traditional styles for gates can be categorized into the three leading British architectural styles in the 18th and 19th centuries: Georgian, Victorian, and Edwardian.

  • Georgian
    Georgian architecture centres around symmetry and proportion. The focus on simplicity and harmony is reflected in Georgian fences and gates, which tend to have understated designs and are characterized by square or round railing bars with spiked finials. Decorative flourishes in Georgian fences and gates are limited to geometric elements.

  • Victorian
    Victorian architecture is often described as a revival of the Gothic style common in the Middle Ages. Some of its hallmarks are spires, gargoyles, and stained glass. It therefore heavily contrasts with the simplicity of Georgian style.

    Victorian fences and gates are characterized by intricate designs, including twisted railing bars, arched tops, and ornate finials.

  • Edwardian
    Edwardian architecture refers to a style that came into prominence at the beginning of the 20th century. It has elements of both the Georgian and Victorian style. Edwardian architecture borrows the Gothic elements from the Victorian period but is less ornate. The style was influenced by the naturalistic philosophies of the Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau movements. Edwardian gates often feature intricate or ornate elements but in a way that’s balanced and understated.

iron gate fencing with flowers

Secure Your Property and Add Curb Appeal With An Ornamental Driveway Gate

An ornamental gate can enhance the look of your property and bolster your home’s overall security. Creative Door Services™ provides automatic residential gate system services throughout Western Canada. Our team sources, installs, and maintains gates of all kinds, including those made of steel, iron, aluminum, wood, and glass.

Whether you’re interested in a classic design, a sleek modern esthetic, or a rustic look, we can provide you with an ornamental driveway gate you’ll love.

To request a quote for a residential gate system or to learn more about our gate installation, repair, or maintenance services, get in touch with our team today. Contact us at one of our eight locations in Western Canada: in Vancouver, British Columbia; Kelowna, British Columbia; Calgary, Alberta; Edmonton, Alberta; Fort McMurray, Alberta; Regina, Saskatchewan; Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; and Winnipeg, Manitoba.

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