The Principles of Gothic Ecclesiastical Architecture, Elucidated by Question and Answer, 4th ed.
by Matthew Holbeche Bloxam
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Transcriber's Note

A number of typographical errors found in the original text have been maintained in this version. They are marked in the text with a [TN-#]. A description of each error is found in the complete list at the end of the text.

The oe ligatures used in the original text have been expanded to "oe" in this version.

The following codes are used for characters which cannot be represented in the character set used for this version of the book.

[=mn] mn with a macron over the two letters [=om] om with a macron over the two letters [=on] on with a macron over the two letters [=re] re with a macron over the two letters

Some footnotes in the original were marked with a dagger. The dagger is represented by a + in this version of the text.

"Whereby may be discerned that so fervent was the zeal of those elder times to God's service and honour, that they freely endowed the church with some part of their possessions; and that in those good works even the meaner sort of men, as well as the pious founders, were not backwards."

Dugdale's Antiq. Warwickshire.












In revising this Work for a Fourth Edition several alterations have been made, especially in the Concluding Chapter; and the whole has been considerably enlarged.

M. H. B.

Rugby, April 1841.


Page CHAP. I. Definition of Gothic Architecture; its Origin, and Division of it into Styles 17

CHAP. II. Of the different Kinds of Arches 22

CHAP. III. Of the Anglo-Saxon Style 30

CHAP. IV. Of the Norman or Anglo-Norman Style 51

CHAP. V. Of the Semi-Norman Style 74

CHAP. VI. Of the Early English Style 86

CHAP. VII. Of the Decorated English Style 102

CHAP. VIII. Of the Florid or Perpendicular English Style 120

CHAP. IX. Of the Debased English Style 145

CONCLUDING CHAPTER. Of the Internal Arrangement and Decorations of a Church 153


Page 41, line 9, for Cambridge, read Lincoln.

Page 49. In addition to the list of churches containing presumed vestiges of Anglo-Saxon architecture, Woodstone Church, Huntingdonshire, and Miserden Church, Gloucestershire, may be enumerated.

Page 71. The double ogee moulding is here inserted by mistake: it is not Norman, but of the fifteenth century.

Page 137. In some copies the wood-cut in this page has been reversed in its position.



Amongst the vestiges of antiquity which abound in this country, are the visible memorials of those nations which have succeeded one another in the occupancy of this island. To the age of our Celtic ancestors, the earliest possessors of its soil, is ascribed the erection of those altars and temples of all but primeval antiquity, the Cromlechs and Stone Circles which lie scattered over the land; and these are conceived to have been derived from the Phoenicians, whose merchants first introduced amongst the aboriginal Britons the arts of incipient civilization. Of these most ancient relics the prototypes appear, as described in Holy Writ, in the pillar raised at Bethel by Jacob, in the altars erected by the Patriarchs, and in the circles of stone set up by Moses at the foot of Mount Sinai, and by Joshua at Gilgal. Many of these structures, perhaps from their very rudeness, have survived the vicissitudes of time, whilst there scarce remains a vestige of the temples erected in this island by the Romans; yet it is from Roman edifices that we derive, and can trace by a gradual transition, the progress of that peculiar kind of architecture called GOTHIC, which presents in its later stages the most striking contrast that can be imagined to its original precursor.

The Romans having conquered almost the whole of Britain in the first century, retained possession of the southern parts for nearly four hundred years; and during their occupancy they not only instructed the natives in the arts of civilization, but also with their aid, as we learn from Tacitus, began at an early period to erect temples and public edifices, though doubtless much inferior to those at Rome, in their municipal towns and cities. The Christian religion was also early introduced,[3-*] but for a time its progress was slow; nor was it till the conversion of Constantine, in the fourth century, that it was openly tolerated by the state, and churches were publicly constructed for its worshippers; though even before that event, as we are led to infer from the testimony of Gildas, the most ancient of our native historians, particular structures were appropriated for the performance of its divine mysteries: for that historian alludes to the British Christians as reconstructing the churches which had, in the Dioclesian persecution, been levelled to the ground. But in the fifth century Rome, oppressed on every side by enemies, and distracted with the vastness of her conquests, which she was no longer able to maintain, recalled her legions from Britain; and the Romanized Britons being left without protection, and having, during their subjection to the Romans, lost their ancient valour and love of liberty, in a short time fell a prey to the Northern Barbarians; in their extremity they called over the Saxons to assist them, when the latter perceiving their defenceless condition, turned round upon them, and made an easy conquest of this country. In the struggle which then took place, the churches were again destroyed, the priests were slain at the very altars,[4-*] and though the British Church was never annihilated, Paganism for a while became triumphant.

Towards the end of the sixth century, when Christianity was again propagated in this country by Augustine, Mellitus, and other zealous monks, St. Gregory, the head of the Papal church, and the originator of this mission, wrote to Mellitus not to suffer the Heathen temples to be destroyed, but only the idols found within them. These, and such churches built by the Romans as were then, though in a dilapidated state, existing, may reasonably be supposed to have been the prototypes of the Christian churches afterwards erected in this country.

In the early period of the empire the Romans imitated the Grecians in their buildings of magnitude and beauty, forming, however, a style of greater richness in detail, though less chaste in effect; and columns of the different orders, with their entablatures, were used to support and adorn their public structures: but in the fourth century, when the arts were declining, the style of architecture became debased, and the predominant features consisted of massive square piers or columns, without entablatures, from the imposts of which sprung arches of a semicircular form; and it was in rude imitation of this latter style that the Saxon churches were constructed.

The Roman basilicas, or halls of justice, some of which were subsequently converted into churches, to which also their names were given, furnished the plan for the internal arrangement of churches of a large size, being divided in the interior by rows of columns. From this division the nave and aisles of a church were derived; and in the semicircular recess at the one end for the tribune, we perceive the origin of the apsis, or semicircular east end, which one of the Anglo-Saxon, and many of our ancient Norman churches still present.

But independent of examples afforded by some few ancient Roman churches, and such of the temples and public buildings of the Romans as were then remaining in Britain, the Saxon converts were directed and assisted in the science of architecture by those missionaries from Rome who propagated Christianity amongst them; and during the Saxon dynasty architects and workmen were frequently procured from abroad, to plan and raise ecclesiastical structures. The Anglo-Saxon churches were, however, rudely built, and, as far as can be ascertained, with some few exceptions, were of no great dimensions and almost entirely devoid of ornamental mouldings, though in some instances decorative sculpture and mouldings are to be met with; but in the repeated incursions of the Danes, in the ninth and tenth centuries, so general was the destruction of the monasteries and churches, which, when the country became tranquil, were rebuilt by the Normans, that we have, in fact, comparatively few churches existing which we may reasonably presume, or really know, to have been erected in an Anglo-Saxon age. Many of the earlier writers on this subject have, however, caused much confusion by applying the term 'SAXON' to all churches and other edifices contradistinguished from the pointed style by semicircular-headed doorways, windows, and arches. But the vestiges of Anglo-Saxon architecture have been as yet so little studied or known, as to render it difficult to point out, either generally or in detail, in what their peculiarities consist: the style may, however, be said to have approximated in appearance much nearer to the Debased Roman style of masonry than the Norman, and to have been also much ruder: and in the most ancient churches, as in that at Dover Castle, and that at Bricksworth, we find arches constructed of flat bricks or tiles, set edgewise, which was also a Roman fashion. The masonry was chiefly composed of rubble, with ashlar or squared blocks of stone at the angles, disposed in courses in a peculiar manner.

The most common characteristic by which the NORMAN style is distinguished, is the semicircular or segmental arch, though this is to be met with also in the rare specimens of Anglo-Saxon masonry; but the Norman arches were more scientifically constructed: in their early state, indeed, quite plain, but generally concentric, or one arch receding within another, and in an advanced stage they were frequently ornamented with zig-zag and other mouldings. A variety of mouldings were also used in the decoration of the Norman portals or doorways, which were besides often enriched with a profusion of sculptured ornament. The Norman churches appear to have much excelled in size the lowly structures of the Saxons, and the cathedral and conventual churches were frequently carried to the height of three tiers or rows of arches, one above another; blank arcades were also used to ornament the walls.

The Norman style, in which an innumerable number of churches and monastic edifices were originally built or entirely reconstructed, continued without any striking alteration till about the latter part of the twelfth century, when a singular change began to take place: this was no other than the introduction of the pointed arch, the origin of which has never yet been satisfactorily explained, or the precise period clearly ascertained in which it first appeared; but as the lightness and simplicity of design to which the Early Pointed style was found to be afterwards convertible was in its incipient state unknown, it retained to the close of the twelfth century the heavy concomitants of the semicircular arch, with which indeed it was often intermixed: and from such intermixture it may be designated the SEMI or MIXED NORMAN.

When the original Norman style of building was first broken through, by the introduction of the pointed arch, which was often formed by the intersection of semicircular arches, the facing of it, or architrave, was often ornamented with the zig-zag, billet, and other mouldings, in the same manner as the Norman semicircular arches: it also rested on round massive piers, and still retained many other features of Norman architecture. But from the time of its introduction to the close of the twelfth century, the pointed arch was gradually struggling with the semicircular arch for the mastery, and with success; for from the commencement of the thirteenth century, as nearly as can be ascertained, the style of building with semicircular arches was, with very few exceptions, altogether discarded, and superseded by its more elegant rival.

The mode of building with semicircular arches, massive piers, and thick walls with broad pilaster buttresses, was now laid aside; and the pointed arch, supported by more slender piers, with walls strengthened with graduating buttresses, of less width but of greater projection, were universally substituted in their stead. The windows, one of the most apparent marks of distinction, were at first long, narrow, and lancet-shaped: the heavy Norman ornaments, the zig-zag and other mouldings peculiar to the Norman and Semi-Norman styles, were now discarded; yet we often meet with certain decorative ornaments, as the tooth ornament, which, though sometimes found in late Norman work, is almost peculiar to the Early Pointed style; also the ball-flower, prevalent both in this and the style of the succeeding century. Many church towers were also capped with spires, which now first appear. This style prevailed generally throughout the thirteenth century, and is usually designated as the EARLY ENGLISH.

Towards the close of the thirteenth century a perceptible, though gradual, transition took place to a richer and more ornamental mode of architecture. This was the style of the fourteenth century, and is known by the name of the DECORATED ENGLISH; but it chiefly flourished during the reigns of Edward the Second and Edward the Third, in the latter of which it attained a degree of perfection unequalled by preceding or subsequent ages. Some of the most prominent and distinctive marks of this style occur in the windows, which were greatly enlarged, and divided into many lights by mullions or tracery-bars running into various ramifications above, and dividing the heads into numerous compartments, forming either geometrical or flowing tracery. Triangular or pedimental canopies and pinnacles, more enriched than before with crockets and finials, yet without redundancy of ornament, also occur in the churches built during this century.

In the latter part of the fourteenth century another transition, or gradual change of style, began to be effected, in the discrimination of which an obvious distinction again occurs in the composition of the windows, some of which are very large: for the mullion-bars, instead of branching off in the head, in a number of curved lines, are carried up vertically, so as to form perpendicular divisions between the window-sill and the head, and do not present that combination of geometrical and flowing tracery observable in the style immediately preceding.

The frequent occurrence of panelled compartments, and the partial change of form in the arches, especially of doorways and windows, which in the latter part of the fifteenth century were often obtusely pointed and mathematically described from four centres, instead of two, as in the more simple pointed arch, and which from the period when this arch began to be prevalent was called the TUDOR arch, together with a great profusion of minute ornament, mostly of a description not before in use, are the chief characteristics of the style of the fifteenth century, which by some of the earlier writers was designated as the FLORID; though it has since received the more general appellation of the PERPENDICULAR.

This style prevailed till the Reformation, at which period no country could vie with our own in the number of religious edifices, which had been erected in all the varieties of style that had prevailed for many preceding ages. Next to the magnificent cathedrals, the venerable monasteries and collegiate establishments, which had been founded and sumptuously endowed in every part of the kingdom, might most justly claim the preeminence; and many of the churches belonging to them were deservedly held in admiration for their grandeur and architectural elegance of design.

But the suppression of the monasteries tended in no slight degree to hasten the decline and fall of our ancient church architecture, to which other causes, such as the revival of the classic orders in Italy, also contributed. The churches belonging to the conventual foundations, which had been built at different periods by the monks or their benefactors, and the charges of erecting and decorating which from time to time in the most costly manner, had been defrayed out of the monastic revenues, and from private donations, being seized by the crown, were reduced to a state of ruin, and the sites on which they stood granted to dependants of the court. The former reverential feeling on these matters had greatly changed; and as the retention of some few of the ministerial habits, the square cap, the cope, the surplice, and hood, which were deemed expedient for the decent ministration of public worship, gave great offence to many, and was one of the most apparent causes which led to that schism amongst the Reformers, on points of discipline, which afterwards ended in the subversion, for a time, of the rites and ordinances of the Church of England, any attempt towards beautifying and adorning (other than with carved pulpits and communion-tables or altars) the places of divine worship, which were now stripped of many of their former ornamental accessories, would have been regarded and inveighed against as a popish and superstitious innovation; and a charge of this kind was at a later period preferred against Archbishop Laud. Parochial churches were, therefore, now repaired when fallen into a state of dilapidation, in a plain and inelegant mode, in complete variance with the richness and display observable in the style just preceding this event.

Details, originating from the designs of classic architecture, which had been partially revived in Italy, began early in the sixteenth century to make their appearance in this country, though as yet, except on tombs and in wood-work, we observe few of those peculiar features introduced as accessories in church architecture.

Hence many of our country churches, which were repaired or partly rebuilt in the century succeeding the Reformation, exhibit the marks of the style justly denominated DEBASED, to distinguish it from the former purer styles. Depressed and nearly flat arched doorways, with shallow mouldings, square-headed windows with perpendicular mullions and obtuse-pointed or round-headed lights, without foliations, together with a general clumsiness of construction, as compared with more ancient edifices, form the predominating features in ecclesiastical buildings of this kind: and in the reign of Charles the First an indiscriminate mixture of Debased Gothic and Roman architecture prevailing, we lose sight of every true feature of our ancient ecclesiastical styles, which were superseded by that which sprang more immediately from the Antique, the Roman, or Italian mode.


[3-*] Tempore, ut scimus, summo Tiberii Caesaris, &c.—GILDAS.

[4-*] Ruebant aedificia publica simul et privata, passim Sacerdotes inter altaria trucibantur.—BEDE, Eccl. Hist. lib. i. c. xv.



Q. What is meant by the term "Gothic Architecture"?

A. Without entering into the derivation of the word "Gothic," it may suffice to state that it is an expression sometimes used to denote in one general term, and distinguish from the Antique, those peculiar modes or styles in which most of our ecclesiastical and many of our domestic edifices of the middle ages have been built. In a more confined sense, it comprehends those styles only in which the pointed arch predominates, and it is then often used to distinguish such from the more ancient Anglo-Saxon and Norman styles.

Q. To what can the origin of this kind of architecture be traced?

A. To the classic orders in that state of degeneracy into which they had fallen in the age of Constantine, and afterwards; and as the Romans, on their voluntary abandonment of Britain in the fifth century, left many of their temples and public edifices remaining, together with some Christian churches, it was in rude imitation of the Roman structures of the fourth century that the most ancient of our Anglo-Saxon churches were constructed. This is apparent from an examination and comparison of such with the vestiges of Roman buildings we have existing.

Q. Into how many different styles may English ecclesiastical architecture be divided?

A. No specific regulation has been adopted, with regard to the denomination or division of the several styles, in which all the writers on the subject agree: but they may be divided into seven, which, together with the periods when they flourished, may be generally defined as follows:

The SAXON Or ANGLO-SAXON Style, which prevailed from the mission of Augustine, at the close of the sixth, to the middle of the eleventh century.

The NORMAN style, which may be said to have prevailed generally from the middle of the eleventh to the latter part of the twelfth century.

The SEMI-NORMAN, Or TRANSITION style, which appears to have prevailed during the latter part of the twelfth century.

The EARLY ENGLISH, or general style of the thirteenth century.

The DECORATED ENGLISH, or general style of the fourteenth century.

The FLORID Or PERPENDICULAR ENGLISH, the style of the fifteenth, and early part of the sixteenth century.

The DEBASED ENGLISH, or general style of the latter part of the sixteenth and early part of the seventeenth century, towards the middle of which Gothic architecture, even in its debased state, became entirely discarded.

Q. What constitutes the difference of these styles?

A. They may be distinguished partly by the form of the arches, which are triangular-headed, semicircular or segmental, simple pointed, and complex pointed; though such forms are by no means an invariable criterion of any particular style; by the size and shape of the windows, and the manner in which they are subdivided or not by transoms, mullions, and tracery; but more especially by certain minute details, ornamental accessories and mouldings, more or less peculiar to particular styles, and which are seldom to be met with in any other.

Q. Are the majority of our ecclesiastical buildings composed only of one style?

A. Most of our cathedral and country churches have been built, or had additions made to them, at different periods, and therefore seldom exhibit an uniformity of design; and many churches have details about them of almost every style. There are, however, numerous exceptions, where churches have been erected in the same style throughout; and this is more particularly observable in the churches of the fifteenth century.

Q. Were they constructed on any regular plan?

A. The general ground plan of cathedral and conventual churches was after the form of a cross, and the edifice consisted of a central tower, with transepts running north and south; westward of the tower was the nave or main body of the structure, with lateral aisles; and the west front contained the principal entrance, and was often flanked by towers. Eastward of the central tower was the choir, where the principal service was performed, with aisles on each side, and beyond this was the lady chapel. Sometimes the design also comprehended other chapels. On the north or south side was the chapter house, in early times quadrangular, but afterwards octagonal in plan; and on the same side, in most instances, though not always, were the cloisters, which communicated immediately with the church, and surrounded a quadrangular court. The chapter house and cloisters we still find remaining as adjuncts to most cathedral churches, though the conventual buildings of a domestic nature, with which the cloisters formerly also communicated, have generally been destroyed. Mere parochial churches have commonly a tower at the west end, a nave with lateral aisles, and a chancel. Some churches have transepts; and small side chapels or additional aisles have been annexed to many, erected at the costs of individuals, to serve for burial and as chantries. The smallest class of churches have a nave and chancel only, with a small bell-turret formed of wooden shingles, or an open arch of stonework, appearing above the roof at the west end.



Q. Do the distinctions of the different styles, as they differ from each other, depend at all upon the form of the arch?

A. To a certain extent the form of the arch may be considered as a criterion of style; too much dependence, however, must not be placed on this rule, inasmuch as there are many exceptions.

Q. How are arches divided generally, as to form?

A. Into the triangular-headed or straight-lined pointed arch, the round-headed arch, and the curved-pointed arch; and the latter are again subdivided.

Q. How is the triangular-headed or straight-lined pointed arch formed, and when did it prevail?

A. It may be described as formed by the two upper sides of a triangle, more or less obtuse or acute. It is generally considered as one of the characteristics of the Anglo-Saxon style, where it is often to be met with of plain and rude construction. But instances of this form of arch, though they are not frequent, are to be met with in the Norman and subsequent styles. Arches, however, of this description, of late date, may be generally known by some moulding or other feature peculiar to the style in which it is used.

Q. What different kinds of round-headed arches are there?

A. The semicircular arch (fig. 1), the stilted arch (fig. 2), the segmental arch (fig. 3), and the horse-shoe arch (fig. 4).

Q. How are they formed or described?

A. The semicircular arch is described from a centre in the same line with its spring; the stilted arch in the same manner, but the sides are carried downwards in a straight line below the spring of the curve till they rest upon the imposts; the segmental arch is described from a centre lower than its spring; and the horse-shoe arch from a centre placed above its spring.

Q. During what period of time do we find these arches generally in use?

A. The semicircular arch, which is the most common, we find to have prevailed from the time of the Romans to the close of the twelfth century, when it became generally discarded; and we seldom meet with it again, in its simple state, till about the middle of the sixteenth century. It is in some degree considered as a characteristic of the Anglo-Saxon and Norman styles. The stilted arch is chiefly found in conjunction with the semicircular arch in the construction of Norman vaulting over a space in plan that of a parallelogram. The segmental arch we meet with in almost all the styles, used as an arch of construction, and for doorway and window arches; whilst the form of the horse-shoe arch seems, in many instances, to have been occasioned by the settlement and inclination of the piers from which it springs.

Q. Into how many classes may the pointed arch be divided?

A. Into two, namely, the simple pointed arch described from two centres, and the complex pointed arch described from four centres.

Q. What are the different kinds of simple pointed arches?

A. The LANCET, or acute-pointed arch; the EQUILATERAL pointed arch; and the OBTUSE-ANGLED pointed arch.

Q. How is the lancet arch formed and described?

A. It is formed of two segments of a circle, and its centres have a radius or line longer than the breadth of the arch, and may be described from an acute-angled triangle. (fig. 5.).[TN-1]

Q. How is the equilateral arch formed and described?

A. From two segments of a circle; the centres of it have a radius or line equal to the breadth of the arch, and it may be described from an equilateral triangle. (fig. 6.)

Q. How is the obtuse-angled arch formed and described?

A. Like the foregoing, it is formed from two segments of a circle, and the centres of it have a radius shorter than the breadth of the arch; it is described from an obtuse-angled triangle. (fig. 7.)

Q. During what period were these pointed arches in use?

A. They were all gradually introduced in the twelfth century, and continued during the thirteenth century; after which the lancet arch appears to have been generally discarded, though the other two prevailed till a much later period.

Q. What are the different kinds of complex pointed arches?

A. Those commonly called the OGEE, or contrasted arch; and the TUDOR arch.

Q. How is the ogee, or contrasted arch, formed and described?

A. It is formed of four segments of a circle, and is described from four centres, two placed within the arch on a level with the spring, and two placed on the exterior of the arch, and level with the apex or point (fig. 8); each side is composed of a double curve, the lowermost convex and the uppermost concave.

Q. When was the ogee arch introduced, and how long did it prevail?

A. It was introduced early in the fourteenth century, and continued till the close of the fifteenth century.

Q. How is the Tudor arch described?

A. From four centres; two on a level with the spring, and two at a distance from it, and below. (fig. 9.)

Q. When was the Tudor arch introduced, and why is it so called?

A. It was introduced about the middle of the fifteenth century, or perhaps earlier, but became most prevalent during the reigns of Henry the Seventh and Henry the Eighth, under the Tudor dynasty, from which it derives its name.

Q. What other kinds of arches are there worthy of notice?

A. Those which are called foiled arches, as the round-headed trefoil (fig. 10), the pointed trefoil (fig. 11), and the square-headed trefoil (fig. 12). The first prevailed in the latter part of the twelfth and early part of the thirteenth century, chiefly as a heading for niches or blank arcades; the second, used for the same purpose, we find to have prevailed in the thirteenth century; and the latter is found in doorways of the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries. In all these the exterior mouldings follow the same curvatures as the inner mouldings, and are thus distinguishable from arches the heads of which are only foliated within.



Q. During what period of time did this style prevail?

A. From the close of the sixth century, when the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons commenced, to the middle of the eleventh century.

Q. Whence does this style appear to have derived its origin?

A. From the later Roman edifices; for in the most ancient of the Anglo-Saxon remains we find an approximation, more or less, to the Roman mode of building, with arches formed of brickwork.

Q. What is peculiar in the constructive features of Roman masonry?

A. Walls of Roman masonry in this country were chiefly constructed of stone or flint, according to the part of the country in which the one material or other prevailed, embedded in mortar, bonded at certain intervals throughout with regular horizontal courses or layers of large flat Roman bricks or tiles, which, from the inequality of thickness and size, do not appear to have been shaped in any regular mould.

Q. What vestiges of Roman masonry are now existing in Britain?

A. A fragment, apparently that of a Roman temple or basilica, near the church of St. Nicholas at Leicester, which contains horizontal courses of brick at intervals, and arches constructed of brickwork; the curious portion of a wall of similar construction, with remains of brick arches on the one side, which indicate it to have formed part of a building, and not a mere wall as it now appears, at Wroxeter, Salop; and the polygonal tower at Dover Castle, which, notwithstanding an exterior casing of flint, and other alterations effected in the fifteenth century, still retains many visible features of its original construction of tufa bonded with bricks at intervals. Roman masonry, of the mixed description of brick and stone, regularly disposed, is found in walls at York, Lincoln, Silchester, and elsewhere; and sometimes we meet with bricks or stone arranged herring-bone fashion, as in the vestiges of a Roman building at Castor, Northamptonshire, and the walls of a Roman villa discovered at Littleton, Somersetshire.

Q. Have we any remains of the ancient British churches erected in this country in the third, fourth, or fifth centuries?

A. None such have yet been discovered or noticed; for the ruinous structure at Perranzabuloe in Cornwall, which some assert to have been an ancient British church, is probably not of earlier date than the twelfth century; and the church of St. Martin at Canterbury, built in the time of the Romans, which Augustine found on his arrival still used for the worship of God, was rebuilt in the thirteenth century, but, to all appearance, with the same materials of which the original church was constructed.

Q. Do any of our churches bear a resemblance to Roman buildings?

A. The church now in ruins within the precincts of the Castle of Dover presents features of early work approximating Roman, as a portal and window-arches formed of brickwork, which seem to have been copied from those in the Roman tower near adjoining; the walls also have much of Roman brick worked up into them, but have no such regular horizontal layers as Roman masonry displays. The most ancient portions of this church are attributed to belong to the middle of the seventh century. The church of Brixworth, Northamptonshire, is perhaps the most complete specimen we have existing of an early Anglo-Saxon church: it has had side aisles separated from the nave by semicircular arches constructed of Roman bricks, with wide joints; these arches spring from square and plain massive piers. There is also fair recorded evidence to support the inference that this church is a structure of the latter part of the seventh century. Roman bricks are worked up in the walls, in no regular order, however, but indiscriminately, as in the church at Dover Castle.

Q. What peculiarities are observable in masonry of Anglo-Saxon construction?

A. From existing vestiges of churches of presumed Anglo-Saxon construction it appears that the walls were chiefly formed of rubble or rag-stone, covered on the exterior with stucco or plaster, with long and short blocks of ashlar or hewn stone, disposed at the angles in alternate courses. We also find, projecting a few inches from the surface of the wall, and running up vertically, narrow ribs or square-edged strips of stone, bearing from their position a rude similarity to pilasters; and these strips are generally composed of long and short pieces of stone placed alternately. A plain string course of the same description of square-edged rib or strip-work often runs horizontally along the walls of Anglo-Saxon remains, and the vertical ribs are sometimes set upon such as a basement, and sometimes finish under such.

Q. What churches exhibit projecting strips of stonework thus disposed?

A. The towers of the churches of Earls Barton and Barnack, Northamptonshire, and the tower of one of the churches at Barton-upon-Humber, Lincolnshire, are covered with these narrow projecting strips of stonework, in such a manner that the surface of the wall appears divided into rudely formed panels; the like disposition of rib-work appears, though not to so great extent, on the face of the upper part of the tower of Stowe Church, Northamptonshire, of St. Benedict's Church, Cambridge, on the walls of the church of Worth, in Sussex, on the upper part of the walls of the chancel of Repton Church, Derbyshire, and on the walls of the nave and north transept of Stanton Lacey Church, Salop.

Q. Where do we meet with instances where long and short blocks of ashlar masonry are disposed in alternate courses at the angles of walls?

A. Such occur at the angles of the chancel of North Burcombe Church, Wiltshire; at the angles of the nave and chancel of Wittering Church, Northamptonshire; at the angles of the towers of St. Benedict's Church, Cambridge, of Sompting Church, Sussex, and of St. Michael's Church, Oxford, and in other Anglo-Saxon remains. The ashlar masonry forming the angles is not, however, invariably thus disposed.

Q. How are the doorways of this style distinguished?

A. They are either semicircular, or triangular-arched headed, but the former are more common. In those, apparently the most ancient, the voussoirs or arched heads are faced with large flat bricks or tiles, closely resembling Roman work. Doorways of this description are to be met with in the old church, Dover Castle; in the church of Brixworth, Northamptonshire; and on the south side of Brytford Church, Wiltshire. The doorway, however, we most frequently meet with in Anglo-Saxon remains, is of simple yet peculiar construction, semicircular-headed, and formed entirely of stone, without any admixture of brick; the jambs are square-edged, and are sometimes but not always composed of two long blocks placed upright, with a short block between them; the arched head of the doorway is plain, and springs from square projecting impost blocks, the under edges of which are sometimes bevelled and sometimes left square. This doorway is contained within a kind of arch of rib-work, projecting from the face of the wall, with strips of pilaster rib-work continued down to the ground; sometimes this arch springs from plain block imposts, or from strips of square-edged rib-work disposed horizontally, and the jambs are occasionally constructed of long and short work.

Q. Mention the names of churches in which doorways of this description are preserved?

A. The south doorways of the towers of the old church at Barton-upon-Humber and of Barnack Church, the west doorway of the tower of Earls Barton Church, the north and south doorways of the tower of Wooten Wawen Church, Warwickshire, the east doorway of the tower of Stowe Church, Northamptonshire, the north doorway of the nave of Brytford Church, Wiltshire, and the north doorway of the nave of Stanton Lacey Church, Salop, though differing in some respects from each other, bear a general similarity of design, and come under the foregoing description.

Q. How are we able to distinguish the windows of the Anglo-Saxon style?

A. The belfry windows are generally found to consist of two semicircular-headed lights, divided by a kind of rude balluster shaft of peculiar character, the entasis of which is sometimes encircled with rude annulated mouldings; this shaft supports a plain oblong impost or abacus, which extends through the whole of the thickness of the wall, or nearly so, and from this one side of the arch of each light springs. Double windows thus divided appear in the belfry stories of the church towers of St. Michael, Oxford; St. Benedict, Cambridge; St. Peter, Barton-upon-Humber; Wyckham, Berks; Sompting, Sussex; and Northleigh, Oxfordshire. In the belfry of the tower of Earls Barton Church are windows of five or six lights, the divisions between which are formed by these curious balluster shafts. The semicircular-headed single-light window of this style may be distinguished from those of the Norman style by the double splay of the jambs, the spaces between which spread or increase in width outwardly as well as inwardly, the narrowest part of the window being placed on the centre of the thickness of the wall; whereas the jambs of windows in the Norman style have only a single splay, and the narrowest part of the window is set even with the external face of the wall, or nearly so. Single-light windows splayed externally occur in the west walls of the towers of Wyckham Church, Berks, and of Stowe Church, Northamptonshire, Caversfield Church, Oxfordshire, and on the north side of the chancel of Clapham Church, Bedfordshire; but windows without a splay occur in the tower of Lavendon Church, Buckinghamshire. Small square or oblong-shaped apertures are sometimes met with, as in the tower of St. Benedict's Church, Cambridge; and also triangular-headed windows, which, with doorways of the same form, will be presently noticed.

Q. Of what description are the arches which separate the nave from the chancel and aisles, and sustain the clerestory walls?

A. They are very plain, and consist of a single sweep or soffit only, without any sub-arch, as in the Norman style; and they spring from square piers; with a plain abacus impost on each intervening, which impost has sometimes the under edge chamfered, and sometimes left quite plain. Arches of this description occur at Brixworth Church, between the nave and chancel of Clapham Church, and between the nave and chancel of Wyckham Church. The arches in St. Michael's Church, St. Alban's, which divide the nave from the aisles, have their edges slightly chamfered. There are also arches with single soffits, which have over them a kind of hood, similar to that over doorways of square-edged rib-work, projecting a few inches from the face of the wall, carried round the arch, and either dying into the impost or continued straight down to the ground. The chancel arch of Worth Church, and arches in the churches of Brigstock and Barnack, and of St. Benedict, Cambridge, and the chancel arch, Barrow Church, Salop, are of this description. Some arches have round or semicylindrical mouldings rudely worked on the face, as in the chancel arch, Wittering Church; or under or attached to the soffit, as at the churches of Sompting and St. Botulph, Sussex. Rudely sculptured impost blocks also sometimes occur, as at Sompting and at St. Botulph; and animals sculptured in low relief appear at the springing of the hood over the arch in the tower of St. Benedict's Church, Cambridge.

Q. How are some of the doorways, windows, arched recesses, and panels of Anglo-Saxon architecture constructed?

A. In a very rude manner, of two or more long blocks of stone, placed slantingly or inclined one towards the other, thus forming a straight line, or triangular-headed arch; the lower ends of these sometimes rest on plain projecting imposts, which surmount other blocks composing the jambs. We find a doorway of this description on the west side of the tower of Brigstock Church, forming the entrance into the curious circular-shaped turret attached and designed for a staircase to the belfry; an arched recess of this description occurs in the tower of Barnack Church, and a panel on the exterior of the same tower, and in windows in the tower of the old church, Barton-upon-Humber, and in the tower of Sompting Church, and St. Michael's Church, Oxford. The arch thus shaped is not, however, peculiar to the Anglo-Saxon style, but may occasionally be traced in most if not all of the subsequent styles, but not of such rude or plain construction.

Q. Were the Anglo-Saxon architects accustomed to construct crypts beneath their churches?

A. There are some subterranean vaults, not easily accessible, the presumed remains of Bishop Wilfrid's work, at Ripon and Hexham, of the latter part of the seventh century; but the crypt beneath the chancel of Repton Church, Derbyshire, the walls of which are constructed of hewn stone, is perhaps the most perfect specimen existing of a crypt in the Anglo-Saxon style, and of a stone vaulted roof sustained by piers, which are of singular character; the vaulting is without diagonal groins, and bears a greater similarity to Roman than to Norman vaulting.

Q. Are mouldings, or is any kind of sculptured ornament, to be met with in Anglo-Saxon work?

A. Although the remains of this style are for the most part plain and devoid of ornamental detail, we occasionally meet with mouldings of a semicylindrical or roll-like form, on the face or under the soffit of an arch, and these are sometimes continued down the sides of the jambs or piers. Foliage, knot-work, and other rudely sculptured detail occur on the tower of Barnack Church, and some rude sculptures appear in St. Benedict's Church, Cambridge; and the plain and simple cross of the Greek form, is represented in relief over a doorway at Stanton Lacey Church, and over windows in the tower of Earls Barton Church.

Q. What was the general plan of the Anglo-Saxon churches?

A. We have now but few instances in which the complete ground plan of an Anglo-Saxon church can be traced: that of Worth Church, Sussex, is perhaps the most perfect, as the original foundation walls do not appear to have been disturbed, although insertions of windows of later date have been made in the walls of the superstructure. This church is planned in the form of a cross, and consists of a nave with transepts, and a chancel, terminating at the east end with a semicircular apsis—a rare instance in the Anglo-Saxon style, as in general the east end of the chancel is rectangular in plan. The towers of Anglo-Saxon churches are generally placed at the west end, though sometimes, as at Wotten Wawen, they occur between the chancel and nave. No original staircase has yet been found in the interior of any. The church at Brixworth, an edifice of the seventh century, and that of St. Michael, at St. Alban's, of the tenth century, have aisles. Sometimes the church appears to have consisted of a nave and chancel only.

Q. Why have we so few ecclesiastical remains of known or presumed Anglo-Saxon architecture now existing?

A. There are probably many examples of this style preserved in churches which have hitherto escaped observation[49-*]; still they are, comparatively speaking, rarely to be met with: and this may be accounted for by the recorded fact, that in the repeated incursions of the Danes in this island, during the ninth and tenth centuries, almost all the Anglo-Saxon monasteries and churches were set on fire and destroyed.


[49-*] All the Anglo-Saxon remains noticed in this chapter, except those alluded to as supposed to exist at Ripon and Hexham, together with the tower of the church of St. Benedict's, Lincoln, have been inspected by the author; and the illustrations of this chapter are, with three exceptions, from his sketches made on the spot. Of the remaining three vignettes, two are from drawings made whilst the author was present, and one only, viz. that of the crypt beneath the chancel of Repton Church, has been reduced from a larger engraving. Besides the churches which have been referred to, several others which have not been visited by the author exhibit vestiges, more or less, of presumed Anglo-Saxon work. Of such churches the following is a list, and, with those mentioned in the chapter, constitute all which have yet come under his notice:

Caversfield, Oxfordshire. Church Stretton, Salop. Trinity Church, Colchester. Deerhurst, Gloucestershire. Daglinworth, Gloucestershire. Jarrow, Durham. Laughton-en-le-Morthen, Yorkshire. Kirkdale, Yorkshire. Monkswearmouth, Durham. Ropsley, Lincolnshire. Stoke D'Abernon, Surrey. Wittingham, Yorkshire.

Of these, seven are noticed by Mr. Rickman.



Q. To what era may we assign the introduction of the Anglo-Norman style?

A. To the reign of Edward the Confessor, since that monarch is recorded by the historians, Matthew Paris and William of Malmesbury, to have rebuilt (A. D. 1065) the Abbey Church at Westminster in a new style of architectural design, which furnished an example afterwards followed by many in the construction of churches.[52-*]

Q. Is any portion of the structure erected by Edward the Confessor remaining?

A. A crypt of early Norman work under the present edifice or buildings attached to it is supposed to have been part of the church constructed by that monarch.

Q. During what period of time did this style prevail?

A. From about A. D. 1065 to the close of the twelfth century.

Q. By what means are we to distinguish this style from the styles of a later period?

A. It is distinguished without difficulty by its semicircular arches, its massive piers, which are generally square or cylindrical, though sometimes multangular in form, and from numerous ornamental details and mouldings peculiar to the style.

Q. What part of the original building has generally been preserved in those churches that were built by the Normans, when all the rest has been demolished and rebuilt in a later style of architecture?

A. There appears to have been a prevalent custom, among those architects who succeeded the Normans, to preserve the doorways of those churches they rebuilt or altered; for many such doorways still remain in churches, the other portions of which were built at a much later period. Thus in the tower of Kenilworth Church, Warwickshire, is a Norman doorway of singular design, from the square band or ornamental facia which environs it. This is a relic of a more ancient edifice than the structure in which it now appears, and which is of the fourteenth century; and the external masonry of the doorway is not tied into the walls of more recent construction, but exhibits a break all round. The church of Stoneleigh, in the same county, contains in the north wall a fine Norman doorway, which has been left undisturbed, though the wall on each side of Norman construction, has been altered, not by demolition, but by the insertion, in the fourteenth century, of decorated windows in lieu of the original small Norman lights.

Q. Were the Norman doorways much ornamented?

A. Many rich doorways were composed of a succession of receding semicircular arches springing from rectangular-edged jambs, and detached shafts with capitals in the nooks; which shafts, together with the arches, were often enriched with the mouldings common to this style. Sometimes the sweep of mouldings which faced the architrave was continued without intermission down the jambs or sides of the doorway; and in small country churches Norman doorways, quite plain in their construction, or with but few mouldings, are to be met with. There is, perhaps, a greater variety of design in doorways of this than of any other style; and of the numerous mouldings with which they in general abound more or less, the chevron, or zig-zag, appears to have been the most common.

Q. In what other respect were these doors sometimes ornamented?

A. The semicircular-shaped stone, which we often find in the tympanum at the back of the head of the arch, is generally covered with rude sculpture in basso relievo, sometimes representing a scriptural subject, as the temptation of our first parents on the tympanum of a Norman doorway at Thurley Church, Bedfordshire; sometimes a legend, as a curious and very early sculpture over the south door of Fordington Church, Dorsetshire, representing a scene in the story of St. George; and sometimes symbolical, as the representation of fish, serpents, and chimerae on the north doorway of Stoneleigh Church, Warwickshire. The figure of our Saviour in a sitting attitude, holding in his left hand a book, and with his right arm and hand upheld, in allusion to the saying, I am the way, and the truth, and the life, and circumscribed by that mystical figure the Vesica piscis, appears over Norman doorways at Ely Cathedral; Rochester Cathedral; Malmesbury Abbey Church; Elstow Church, Bedfordshire; Water Stratford Church, Buckinghamshire; and Barfreston Church, Kent; and is not uncommon.

Q. Are there many Norman porches?

A. Norman porches occur at Durham Cathedral; Malmesbury Abbey Church; Sherbourne Abbey Church; and Witney Church, Oxfordshire; but they are not very common. The roof of the porch was usually groined with simple cross springers and moulded ribs; and in some instances a room over has been added at a later period. Numerous portals of the Norman era appear constructed within a shallow projecting mass of masonry, similar in appearance to the broad projecting buttress, and, like that, finished on the upper edge with a plain slope. This was to give a sufficiency of depth to the numerous concentric arches successively receding in the thickness of the wall, which could not otherwise be well attained.

Q. What kind of windows were those belonging to this style?

A. The windows were mostly small and narrow, seldom of more than one light, except belfry windows, which were usually divided into two round-headed lights by a shaft, with a capital and abacus. Early in the style the windows were quite plain; afterwards they were ornamented in a greater or less degree, sometimes with the chevron or zig-zag, and sometimes with roll or cylinder mouldings; in many instances, also, shafts were inserted at the sides, the window jambs were simply splayed in one direction only, and the space between them increased in width inwardly.

Q. Do we meet with any circular or wheel-shaped windows of the Norman era?

A. A circular window, with divisions formed by small shafts and semicircular or trefoiled arches, disposed so as to converge to a common centre, sometimes occurs in the gable at the east end of a Norman church, as at Barfreston Church, Kent; and New Shoreham Church, Sussex; and are not uncommon.

Q. What kinds of piers were the Norman piers?

A. Early in the style they were (with some exceptions, as in the crypts beneath the cathedrals of Canterbury and Worcester) very massive, and the generality plain and cylindrical; though sometimes they were square, which was indeed the most ancient shape; sometimes they appear with rectangular nooks or recesses; and, in large churches, Norman piers had frequently one or more semicylindrical pier-shafts attached, disposed either in nooks or on the face of the pier. We sometimes meet with octagonal piers, as in the cathedrals of Oxford and Peterborough, the conventual church at Ely, and in the ruined church of Buildwas Abbey, Salop; and also, though rarely, with piers covered with spiral flutings, as one is in Norwich Cathedral; with the spiral cable moulding, as one is in the crypt of Canterbury Cathedral; and encircled with a spiral band, as one appears in the ruined chapel at Orford, in Suffolk; sometimes, also, they appear covered with ornamental mouldings. Late in the style the piers assume a greater lightness in appearance, and are sometimes clustered and banded round with mouldings, and approximate in design those of a subsequent style.

Q. How are the capitals distinguished?

A. The general outline and shape of the Norman capital is that of a square cubical mass, having the lower part rounded off with a contour resembling that of an ovolo moulding; the face on each side of the upper part of the capital is flat, and it is often separated from the lower part by an escalloped edge; and where such division is formed by more than one escallop, the lower part is channelled between each, and the spaces below the escalloped edges are worked or moulded so as to resemble inverted and truncated semicones.

Besides the plain capital thus described, of which instances with the single escalloped edge occur in the crypts beneath the cathedrals of Canterbury, Winchester, and Worcester, and with a series of escalloped edges, or what would be heraldically termed invected, in many of the capitals of the Norman piers in Norwich Cathedral, an extreme variety of design in ornamental accessories prevail, the general form and outline of the capital being preserved; and some exhibit imitations of the Ionic volute and Corinthian acanthus, whilst many are covered with rude sculpture in relief. They are generally finished with a plain square abacus moulding, with the under edge simply bevelled or chamfered; sometimes a slight angular moulding occurs between the upper face and slope of the abacus, and sometimes the abacus alone intervenes between the pier and the spring of the arch. There are also many round capitals, as, for instance, those in the nave of Gloucester Cathedral, but they are mostly late in the style.

Q. What is observable in the bases of the piers?

A. The common base moulding resembles in form or contour a quirked ovolo reversed; there are, however, many exceptions.

Q. How are the arches distinguished?

A. By their semicircular form; they are generally double-faced, or formed of two concentric divisions, one receding within the other. Early in the style they are plain and square-edged; late in the style they are often found enriched with the zig-zag and roll mouldings, or some other ornament. Sometimes the curvature of the arch does not immediately spring from the capital or impost, but is raised or stilted.

Q. What parts of Norman churches do we generally find vaulted?

A. In cathedral and large conventual churches built in the Norman style we find the crypts and aisles vaulted with stone, but not the nave or choir; and over the vaulting of the aisles was the triforium. In small Norman churches the chancel is generally the only part vaulted; and between the vaulting and outer roof is, in some instances, a small loft or chamber. Sometimes we find the original design for vaulting to have been commenced and left unfinished.

Q. Of what description was the Norman vaulting?

A. The bays of vaulting were generally either squares or parallelograms, though sometimes not rectangular in shape, and each was divided into four concave vaulting cells by diagonal and intersecting groins, thus forming what is called a quadripartite vault. Early in the style the diagonal edges of the groins appear without ribs or mouldings; at an advanced stage they are supported by square-edged ribs of cut stone; and late in the style the ribs and groins are faced with roll or cylinder mouldings. They are also sometimes profusely covered with the zig-zag moulding and other ornamental details.

Q. What is observable with respect to Norman masonry?

A. In general the walls are faced on each side with a thin shell of ashlar or cut stone, whilst the intervening space, which is sometimes considerable, is filled with grouted rubble. Masses of this grout-work masonry, from which the facing of cut stone has been removed, we often find amongst ruined edifices of early date.

Q. Were there any buttresses used at this period?

A. Yes; but the walls being enormously thick, and requiring little additional support, those in use are like pilasters, with a broad face projecting very little from the building; and they seem to have been derived from the pilaster strips of stonework in Anglo-Saxon masonry. They are generally of a single stage only, but sometimes of more, and are not carried up higher than the cornice, under which they often but not always finish with a slope. They appear as if intended rather to relieve the plain external surface of the wall than to strengthen it. Norman portals not unfrequently occur, formed in the thickness of a broad but shallow pilaster buttress, as at Iffley Church, Oxfordshire, and at Stoneleigh and Hampton-in-Arden Churches, Warwickshire, and elsewhere. This kind of buttress was also used in the next, or Semi-Norman style.

Q. Were there any towers?

A. Yes; they were generally very low and massive; and the exterior, especially of the upper story, was often decorated with arcades of blank semicircular and intersecting arches; the parapet consisted of a plain projecting blocking-course, supported by the corbel table.

Q. Do pinnacles appear to have been known to the Normans?

A. Although some are of opinion that the pinnacle was not introduced till after the adoption of the pointed style, many Norman buildings have pinnacles of a conical shape, which are apparently part of the original design.

Q. What distinction occurs in the construction of the small country churches of this style, and the larger buildings of conventual foundation?

A. Small Norman churches consisted of a single story only; cathedral and conventual churches were carried up to a great height, and were frequently divided into three tiers, the lowest of which consisted of single arches, separating the nave from the aisles: above each of these arches in the second tier were two smaller arches constructed beneath a larger; sometimes the same space was occupied by a single arch; and in this tier was the triforium or gallery. In the third tier or clerestory were frequently arcades of three arches connected together, the middle one of which was higher and broader than the others: and all these three occupied a space only equal to the span of the lowest arch. Blank arcades were also much used in the exterior walls, as well as in the interior of rich Norman buildings; and some of the arches which composed them were often pierced for windows.

Q. What were the mouldings principally used in the decoration of Norman churches?

A. The chevron, or zig-zag, which is not always single, but often duplicated, triplicated, or quadrupled.

The reversed zig-zag.

The indented moulding.

The embattled moulding.

The dovetail moulding.

The beak head.

The nebule, chiefly used for the fascia under a parapet.

The billet.

The square billet, or corbel bole, used for supporting a blocking course.

The cable moulding.

The double cone.

The pellet, or stud.

The hatched, or saw tooth.

The nail head.

The lozenge.

The studded trellis.

The diamond fret.

The medallion.

The star.

The scalloped or invected moulding.

A variety of other mouldings and ornamental accessories are also to be met with, but those above described are the most common.

Q. What kind of string-course do we usually find carried along the walls of Norman churches, just below the windows?

A. A string-course similar in form to the common Norman abacus, with a plain face and the under part bevelled, is of most frequent occurrence; a plain semihexagon string-course is also often to be met with. Sometimes the string-course is ornamented with the zig-zag moulding.

Q. What difference is there as to their general character and appearance between the early and late examples of Norman architecture?

A. The details of those buildings early in the style are characterized by their massiveness, simplicity, and plain appearance; the single or double-faced semicircular arches, both of doorways and windows, as well as the arches supporting the clerestory walls, are generally devoid of ornament, and the edges of the jambs and arches are square. The undercroft of Canterbury Cathedral, the work of Archbishop Lanfranc, between A. D. 1073 and A. D. 1080; the crypt and transepts of Winchester Cathedral, built by Bishop Walkelyn between A. D. 1079 and A. D. 1093; the plain Norman work of the Abbey Church at St. Alban's, built by Abbot Paul, between 1077-1093; and the north and south aisles of the choir of Norwich Cathedral, the work of Bishop Herbert, between A. D. 1096 and A. D. 1101, not to multiply examples, may be enumerated as instances of plain and early Norman work. In buildings late in the style we find a profusion of ornamental detail of a peculiar character, and numerous semi and tripartite cylindrical mouldings on the faces and edges of arches and vaulting-ribs. The transepts of Peterborough Cathedral, built by Abbot Waterville between A. D. 1155 and A. D. 1175, exhibit vaulting-groins faced with roll mouldings, and other details of an advanced stage; whilst the Galilee, Durham Cathedral, built by Bishop Pudsey, A. D. 1180, is remarkable for the lightness and elongation of the piers, which are formed of clustered columns; and the semicircular arches which spring from these are enriched both on the face and soffits with the chevron or zig-zag moulding. There are many intermediate gradations between the extreme plain and massive work of early date, and the enrichments, mouldings, and elongated proportions to be found late in the style; and in detail we may perceive an almost imperceptible merging into that style which succeeded the Norman.


[52-*] Defunctus autem Rex beatissimus in crastino sepultus est Londini, in Ecclesia, quam ipse novo compositionis genere construxerat, a qua post, multi Ecclesias construentes, exemplum adepti, opus illud expensis oemulabantur sumptuosis.—MATT. PARIS.



Q. What is the Semi-Norman style?

A. It is that style of transition which, without superseding the Norman style, prevailed more or less, in conjunction with it, during the latter part of the twelfth century, and probably even from an earlier period, and gradually led to the complete adoption, in the succeeding century, of the early pointed style in a pure state, and to the general disuse of the semicircular arch.

Q. By what is this style chiefly denoted?

A. By the intersection of semicircular arches, the frequent intermixture of the pointed arch in its incipient state with the semicircular arch, and the pointed arch with its accompaniments of features, mouldings, and ornamental accessories, exactly similar to those of the Norman style, both in its earlier and later gradations, and from which it appears to have differed only in the contour or form of the arch.

Q. Whence are we to derive the origin of the pointed arch?

A. Many conjectural opinions on this much-contested question have been entertained, yet it still remains to be satisfactorily elucidated. Some would derive it from the East and ascribe its introduction to the Crusaders; some maintain that it was suggested by the intersection of semicircular arches, which intersection we frequently find in ornamental arcades; others contend that it originated from the mode of quadripartite vaulting adopted by the Normans, the segmental groins of which, crossing diagonally, produce to appearance the pointed arch; whilst some imagine it may have been derived from that mystical figure of a pointed oval form, the Vesica Piscis[76-*]. But whatever its origin, it appears to have been imperceptibly brought into partial use towards the middle of the twelfth century.

Q. What are the characteristics of this style?

A. In large buildings massive cylindrical piers support pointed arches, above which we often find round-headed clerestory windows, as at Buildwas Abbey Church, Salop; or semicircular arches forming the triforium, as at Malmesbury Abbey Church, Wilts. Sometimes we meet with successive tiers of arcades, in which the pointed arch is surmounted both by intersecting and semicircular arches, as in a portion of the west front of Croyland Abbey Church, Lincolnshire, now in ruins. The ornamental details and mouldings of this style generally partake of late Norman character; and the zig-zag and semicylindrical mouldings on the faces of arches appear to predominate, though other Norman mouldings are common; but we also frequently meet with specimens in the Semi-Norman style in which extreme plainness prevails, and the character is of that nature as to induce us to ascribe such buildings to rather an early period. Single and double, and sometimes even triple-faced arches, with the edges left square, distinguish plain specimens of this style from the plain-pointed double-faced arches of the succeeding century, the edges of which are splayed or chamfered. In late instances of this, as of the cotemporaneous Norman style, we observe in the details a gradual tendency to merge into those of the style of the thirteenth century, when the pointed arch had attained maturity, and the peculiar features and decorative mouldings and sculptures of Norman character had fallen into isuse.[TN-2]

Q. What specimen of this style is there of apparently early date?

A. The church, now in ruins, of Buildwas Abbey, Salop, founded A. D. 1135[79-*], is an early specimen of the Semi-Norman style, in which, with the incipient pointed arch, Norman features and details are blended. The nave is divided from the aisles by plain double-faced pointed arches, with square edges, and hood mouldings over, which spring from massive cylindrical piers with square bases and capitals; whilst the clerestory windows above (for there is no triforium) are semicircular-headed. The general features of early Norman character, the absence of decorative mouldings, and the plain appearance this church exhibits throughout, are such as perhaps to warrant the presumption that this church is the same structure mentioned in the charter of confirmation granted to this abbey by Stephen, A. D. 1138-9.

Q. What other noted specimens are there of this style?

A. The church of the Hospital of St. Cross, near Winchester, presents an interesting combination of semicircular, intersecting, and pointed arches, of cotemporaneous date, enriched with the zig-zag and other Norman decorative mouldings, and is a structure, in appearance and detail, of much later date than the church at Buildwas Abbey, though the same early era has been assigned to each.

St. Joseph's Chapel, Glastonbury, now in ruins, supposed to have been erected in the reigns of Henry the Second and Richard the First, is perhaps the richest specimen now remaining of the Semi-Norman or transition style, and is remarkable for the profusion of sculptured detail and combination of round and intersecting arches. In the remains of Malmesbury Abbey Church a Norman triforium with semicircular arches is supported on pointed arches which are enriched with Norman mouldings, and spring from massive cylindrical Norman piers. The interior of Rothwell Church, Northamptonshire, has much of Semi-Norman character: the aisles are divided from the nave by four lofty, plain, and triple-faced pointed arches, with square edges, springing from square piers with attached semicylindrical shafts on each side, and banded round midway between the bases and capitals; and the latter, which are enriched with sculptured foliage, are surmounted by square abaci; the west doorway is also of Semi-Norman character, and pointed, and is set within a projecting mass of masonry resembling the shallow Norman buttress. The circular part of St. Sepulchre's Church, Northampton, has early pointed arches, plain in design, springing from Norman cylindrical piers. In the circular part of the Temple Church, London, dedicated A. D. 1185, the piers consist of four clustered columns banded round midway between the bases and capitals, and approximating the Early English style of the thirteenth century; and these support pointed arches, over which and continued round the clerestory wall is an arcade of intersecting semicircular arches, and above these are round-headed windows.

Q. What particular specimen of the Semi-Norman style has been noticed by any cotemporaneous author, and the date of it clearly defined?

A. The eastern part of Canterbury Cathedral, consisting of Trinity Chapel and the circular adjunct called Becket's Crown. The building of these commenced the year following the fire which occurred A. D. 1174, and was carried on without intermission for several successive years. Gervase, a monk of the cathedral, and an eyewitness of this re-edification, wrote a long and detailed description of the work in progress, and a comparison between that and the more ancient structure which was burnt; he does not, however, notice in any clear and precise terms the general adoption of the pointed arch and partial disuse of the round arch in the new building, from which we may perhaps infer they were at that period indifferently used, or rather that the pointed arch was gradually gaining the ascendancy[83-*].

Q. How long does the Semi or Mixed Norman style appear to have prevailed?

A. Though we can neither trace satisfactorily the exact period of its introduction, or even that of its final extinction, (for it appears to have merged gradually into the pure and unmixed pointed style of the thirteenth century,) we have perhaps no remains of this kind to which we can attribute an earlier date than that included between the years 1130 and 1140, unless we except the intersecting arches at St. Botulph's, Priory Church, Colchester, which may be a few years earlier; and it appears to have prevailed, in conjunction or intermixed with the Norman style, from thence to the close of the twelfth century, and probably to a somewhat later period.


[76-*] The figure of a fish, whence the form vesica piscis originated, was one of the most ancient of the Christian symbols, emblematically significant of the word ichthys, which contained the initial letters of the name and titles of our Saviour. The symbolic representation of a fish we find sculptured on some of the sarcophagi of the early Christians discovered in the catacombs at Rome; but the actual figure of a fish afterwards gave place to an oval-shaped compartment, pointed at both extremities, bearing the same mystical signification as the fish itself, and formed by two circles intersecting each other in the centre. This was the most common symbol used in the middle ages, and thus delineated it abounds in Anglo-Saxon illuminated manuscripts. Every where we meet with it during the middle ages, in religious sculptures, in painted glass, on encaustic tiles, and on seals; and in the latter, that is, in those of many of the ecclesiastical courts, the form is yet retained. Even with respect to the origin of the pointed arch, that vexata quaestio of antiquaries, with what degree of probability may it not be attributed to this mystical form? It is indeed in this symbolical figure that we see the outline of the pointed arch plainly developed at least a century and half before the appearance of it in architectonic form. And in that age full of mystical significations, the twelfth century, when every part of a church was symbolized, it appears nothing strange if this typical form should have had its weight towards originating and determining the adoption of the pointed arch.—Internal Decorations of English Churches, British Critic, April, 1839.

[79-*] The date of the foundation of an abbey or church must not, however, be confounded with that of its actual erection, which was often many years later, and the only certain guide to which is the date of the Consecration.

[83-*] In the minute and circumstantial account which Gervase gives of the partial destruction of this cathedral by fire, A. D. 1174, and its after restoration, he seems to allude, though in obscure language, to the altered form of the vaulting in the aisles of the choir (in circuitu extra chorum); and his comparison, with reference to this building, between early and late Norman architecture is altogether so curious and exact as to deserve being transcribed:—

"Dictum est in superioribus quod post combustionem illam vetera fere omnia chori diruta sunt, et in quandam augustioris formae transierunt novitatem. Nunc autem quae sit operis utriusque differentia dicendum est. Pilariorum igitur tam veterum quam novorum una forma est, una et grossitudo, sed longitudo dissimilis. Elongati sunt enim pilarii novi longitudine pedum fere duodecim. In capitellis veteribus opus erat planum, in novis sculptura subtilis. Ibi in chori ambitu pilarii viginti duo, hic autem viginti octo. Ibi arcus et caetera omnia plana utpote sculpta secure et non scisello, his in omnibus fere sculptura idonea. Ibi columpna nulla marmorea, hic innumerae. Ibi in circuitu extra chorum fornices planae, hic arcuatae sunt et clavatae. Ibi murus super pilarios directus cruces a choro sequestrabat, hic vero nullo intersticio cruces a choro divisae in unam clavem quae in medio fornicis magnae consistit, quae quatuor pilariis principalibus innititur, convenire videntur. Ibi coelum ligneum egregia pictura decoratum, hic fornix ex lapide et tofo levi decenter composita est. Ibi triforium unum, hic duo in choro, et in ala ecclesiae tercium."—De Combust. et Repar. Cant. Ecclesiae.



Q. During what era did the Early English style prevail?

A. It may be said to have prevailed generally throughout the thirteenth century[86-*].

Q. How is it distinguished from the Norman and Semi-Norman styles?

A. The semicircular-headed arch, with its peculiar mouldings, was almost entirely discarded, and superseded by the pointed arch, with plain chamfered edges or mouldings of a different character. The segmental arch, nearly flat, was still however used in doorways, and occasionally the semicircular also, as in the arches of the Retrochoir, Chichester Cathedral.

Q. Of what three kinds were the pointed arches of this era?

A. The lancet, the equilateral, and the obtuse-angled arch.

Q. Which of these arches were most in use?

A. In large buildings the lancet and the equilateral-shaped arch were prevalent, as appears in Westminster Abbey, where the lancet arch predominates, and Salisbury Cathedral, where the equilateral arch is principally used; but in small country churches the obtuse-angled arch is most frequently found. All these arches are struck from two centres, and are formed from segments of a circle. In large buildings the architrave is faced with a succession of roll mouldings and deep hollows, in which the tooth ornament is sometimes inserted. In small churches the arches, which are double-faced, have merely plain chamfered edges.

Q. What was the difference of the piers between this and an earlier era?

A. Instead of the massive Norman, the Early English piers were, in large buildings, composed of an insulated column surrounded by slender detached shafts, all uniting together under one capital; these shafts were divided into parts by horizontal bands or fillets; but in small churches a plain octagonal pier, which can, however, scarcely be distinguished from that of a later style, predominated.

Q. How are the capitals distinguished?

A. They are simple in comparison with those of a later style, and are often bell-shaped, with a bead moulding round the neck, and a capping, with a series of mouldings, above; a very elegant and beautiful capital is frequently formed of stiffly sculptured foliage. The capital surmounting the multangular-shaped pier is also multangular in form, but plain, with a neck, and cap mouldings, and is difficult to be discerned from that of the succeeding style; the cap mouldings are, however, in general not so numerous as those of a later period.

Q. How are the doorways of this style distinguished?

A. The small doorways have generally a single detached shaft on each side, with a plain moulded bell-shaped capital, which is sometimes covered with foliage; and the architrave mouldings consist of a few simple members, with a hood moulding or label over, terminated by heads. We also find richer doorways with two or more detached shafts at the sides, and architrave mouldings composed of numerous members. Large doorways of the Early English style were sometimes double, being divided into two arched openings by a shaft, either single or clustered; and above this a quatrefoil was generally inserted, but sometimes the head was filled with sculptured detail. Examples of the double doorway occur in the cathedrals of Ely, Chichester, Wells, Salisbury, Lincoln, and Lichfield; also at Christchurch and St. Cross, Hants; Higham Ferrers, Northamptonshire; and in other large churches in this style.

Q. What kind of windows were prevalent?

A. In the early stages of this style the lancet arch-headed window, very long and narrow, was prevalent; frequently two, three, or more of these were connected together by hood mouldings, the middle window rising higher than those at the sides; sometimes they were unconnected, and without hood mouldings. In the east wall of Early English chancels three lancet windows, thus arranged, are frequently displayed. At a later period a broader window, divided into two lights by a plain mullion, finished at the top with a lozenge or circle, was used; and sometimes a window divided into three lights, the middle one higher than the others, and comprised under one hood moulding, was in use; windows of four and even five lancet lights, thus disposed, are to be met with, but are not common; the sides of the windows were in general simply splayed, without mouldings, and increased in width inwardly, but slender shafts were sometimes annexed; and we also find, in the interior of rich buildings of this style, detached shafts standing out in front of the stonework forming the window jambs, and supporting the arch of the window. Towards the close of this style the windows assumed a more ornamental cast, and became much larger, being frequently divided into two or four principal lights, with one or three circles in the heads; both the lights and circles are foliated, and these evince the transition in progress to the next, or Decorated style. Beneath the windows a string-course is generally carried horizontally along the wall; and a roll moulding, similar to the upper members of the string-course of Merton College Chapel, Oxford, is most commonly met with, as the string-course.

Q. How is the buttress of this age distinguished?

A. In general by its plain triangular or pedimental head, its projecting more from the building than the Norman buttress, and from its being less in breadth. It is also sometimes carried up above the parapet wall. The edges of the buttresses are sometimes chamfered; and plain buttresses in stages finished with simple slopes are not uncommon. We very rarely find buttresses of this style disposed at the angles of buildings, though such disposition was common in the succeeding style; but two buttresses placed at right angles with each other, and with the face of the wall, generally occur at the angles of churches in this style. Flying buttresses were sometimes used to strengthen the clerestory walls of large buildings, and have a light and elegant effect.

Q. Were the walls differently built?

A. They were not so thick as those of an earlier period, which occasioned the want of stronger buttresses to support them.

Q. Were the Early English roofs of a different construction from those of a later style?

A. The Norman and Early English roofs were high and acutely pointed. The original roofs of most of our old churches, from their exposure to the weather, have long since fallen to decay, and been replaced by others of a more obtuse shape; but in general the height and angular form of the original roof may be ascertained by the weather moulding still remaining on the side of the tower or steeple. The interior vaulting of stone roofs was composed of fewer parts and ribs, which were often not more numerous than those of Norman vaulting, and does not present that complexity of arrangement which occurs in the vaulting-ribs of subsequent styles. In the cathedral of Salisbury also in the nave of Wells Cathedral are simple and good examples of Early English vaulting. A curious groined roof, in which the ribs are of wood—plain, cut with chamfered edges—and the cells of the vaulting are covered with boards, is to be met with in the church of Warmington, Northamptonshire, a very rich, perfect, and interesting specimen of this style.

Q. Was not the spire introduced at this period?

A. Yes, many spires were then built; among which was that of old St. Paul's Cathedral, more than five hundred feet high, and which was destroyed by fire, A. D. 1561. The spire of Oxford Cathedral is also of this style. Early English spires are generally what are called Broach spires, and spring at once from the external face of the walls of the tower, without any intervening parapet.

Q. Whence did the spire take its origin?

A. It appears to have been suggested by the Norman pinnacle, which, at first a conical capping, afterwards became polygonal, and ribbed at the angles, thus presenting the prototype of the spire.

Q. What ornament is peculiar, or nearly so, to this style?

A. That called the tooth or dog-tooth ornament, a kind of pyramidal-shaped flower of four leaves, which is generally inserted in a hollow moulding, and, when seen in profile, presents a zig-zag or serrated appearance. The tooth moulding appears to have been introduced towards the close of the twelfth century; and an early instance where it occurs is on a late Norman doorway, at Whitwell Church, Rutlandshire: we do not, however, meet with it in buildings of a later style than that of the thirteenth century. It is sometimes found used in great profusion in doorways, windows, and other ornamental details; but many churches of this style are entirely devoid of this ornament. The ball-flower, though introduced in the thirteenth century, is not a common ornament until the fourteenth, to which era it may be said more particularly to belong; we find it in cornice mouldings, and sometimes on capitals.

Q. What may be observed of the sculptured foliage of this style?

A. As applied to capitals, bases, crockets, and other ornamental detail, we find the general design and appearance of the sculptured foliage of this style to be stiff and formal compared with that of the succeeding style, when the arrangement of the foliage more closely approximated nature, and a greater freedom both in conception and execution was evinced.

Q. How are the parapets distinguished?

A. They are often plain and embattled; but sometimes a simple horizontal parapet is used, supported by a corbel table, as in the tower of Haddenham Church, Buckinghamshire, and on that of Brize Norton Church, Oxfordshire. At Salisbury Cathedral the parapet is relieved by a series of blank trefoil headed pannels,[TN-3] sunk in the face.

Q. What may be said in general terms of the style of the thirteenth century, in comparing it with the styles which immediately preceded and followed it?

A. In comparison with the Norman style, with its heavy concomitants and enrichments, the style of the thirteenth century is light and simple, and the details possess much elegance of contour. These, in small buildings, are generally plain; but in large buildings they exhibit numerous mouldings, combined with a certain degree of decorative embellishment. This style is, however, far from presenting that extreme beauty of outline and tasteful conception, combined with the pure and chaste ornamental accessories, which prevail in the designs of the fourteenth century.

Q. What particular structures may be noticed as belonging to this style?

A. Salisbury Cathedral, built by Bishop Poore between A. D. 1220 and 1260, is perhaps the most perfect specimen, on a large scale, of this style in its early state, with narrow lancet windows; the nave and transepts of Westminster Abbey, commenced in 1245, exhibit this style in a more advanced stage; whilst Lincoln Cathedral is, for the most part, a rich specimen of this style in its late or transition state. The west front of Wells Cathedral, erected by the munificence of Bishop Joceline, between A. D. 1213 and A. D. 1239, is covered with blank arcades and a number of trefoil-headed niches, surmounted by plain pedimental canopies, which contain specimens of statuary remarkable for their extreme beauty and freedom of design.


[86-*] From the economic principles on which our modern churches are, with few exceptions, planned, they are mostly designed after and are intended to resemble in style those of the thirteenth century, in which more detail can be dispensed with than in any other style. Hence it follows that the just proportions and adaptation of the different parts and the minutest details and mouldings in ancient churches of this style required to be carefully studied, more so perhaps for practical purposes than in churches of any other style.



Q. When did the Decorated English style commence, and how long did it prevail?

A. It may be said to have commenced in the latter part of the thirteenth century, or reign of Edward the First, and to have prevailed about a century. The transition from the Early English style to this, and again from this to the succeeding style, was however so extremely gradual, that it is difficult to affix any precise date for the termination of one style, or the introduction of another.

Q. Whence does it derive its appellation?

A. From there being a greater redundancy of chaste ornament in this than in the preceding style; and though it does not exhibit that extreme multiplicity of decorative detail as the style of the fifteenth century, the general contours and forms which this style presents, and the principal lines of composition, which verge pyramidically rather than vertically or horizontally, are infinitely more pleasing; and it is justly considered as the most beautiful style of English ecclesiastical architecture.

Q. What difference is there between the arches of this style, which support the clerestory, and those of an earlier period?

A. The lancet arch is seldom seen; the equilateral arch is generally, though not always, used. Both this and the obtuse-angled arch are, taken exclusively, difficult to be distinguished from those of an earlier period. In small buildings the edges of the pier arches are plain and chamfered. In large churches a series of quarter-round or roll-mouldings, which have often a square-edged fillet attached, are applied to the sub-arch, edges, and facing.

Grendon Church, Warwickshire, and Austrey Church, Warwickshire.]

Q. What difference occurs in the piers from which these arches spring?

A. In large buildings piers of this style were composed of a cluster of slender cylindrical shafts, not standing detached from each other, as in the Early English style, but closely united. A common pier of this kind is formed of four shafts thus united, without bands, with a square-edged fillet running vertically up the face of each shaft. Sometimes a simple cylindrical pier is found. The octagonal pier, with plain sides, is very prevalent in small churches, and does not differ materially from the Early English pier of the same kind. The capitals are either bell-shaped, clustered, or octagonal, to correspond with the shape of the piers; but the cap mouldings are more numerous than in the earlier style. Sometimes the capitals are sculptured. In the churches of Monkskirby, Warwickshire, and of Cropredy, Oxfordshire, the arches which support the clerestory spring at once from the piers, without any intervening capitals, a practice not uncommon in the style of the fifteenth century, but very rare in this.

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