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English Church Architecture of the Middle Ages An Elementary Handbook

English Church Architecture of the Middle Ages
An Elementary Handbook
Category:
Title: English Church Architecture of the Middle Ages An Elementary Handbook
Release Date: 2019-01-20
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 27 March 2019
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List of Illustrations
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Chronology
Index:A,B,C,D,E,F,H,I,J,L,M,N,O,P,Q,R,S,T,V,W.

(etext transcriber's note)

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ENGLISH CHURCH ARCHITECTURE OF THE MIDDLE AGES
ENGLISH     CATHEDRALS

CANTERBURY—PETERBOROUGH—
DURHAM—SALISBURY—LICHFIELD—
LINCOLN—ELY—WELLS—WINCHESTER—
GLOUCESTER—YORK—LONDON
By Mrs. S. van Rensselaer. Illustrated
with one hundred andfifty-four Drawings
by Joseph Pennell. Also with Plans
andDiagrams. Fifth Edition, revised and
corrected. Cloth, 20s. net

 

 

HANDBOOK OF ENGLISH CATHEDRALS
By Mrs. S. van Rensselaer. Illustrated
with Drawings by JosephPennell. Also
with Plans and Diagrams. Cloth, 10s. 6d. net

T. FISHER UNWIN, LTD., LONDON

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ENGLISH CHURCH
ARCHITECTURE

OF   THE   MIDDLE   AGES
AN   ELEMENTARY   HANDBOOK
By A. FREEMAN SMITH

For many years Art Master and Instructor in all Architectural Subjects
in theMunicipal School of Art, Birmingham


WITH TWELVE PLATES

T. FISHER UNWIN, LTD.
LONDON: ADELPHI TERRACE

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First published in 1922.

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[All Rights Reserved]

PREFACE

THE object of this little work is to give an outline of the leadingcharacteristics of Gothic Architecture, as found in churches of theMiddle Ages in England. And it is hoped that it may be found useful tothose visiting those noble buildings, whose antiquity and inseparableconnection with the history of the country in their growth anddevelopment, in addition to the highest purpose for which they wereerected by the faithful followers of the Founder of the Christian Faith,entitle them to veneration and careful study in the realms of history,art, and religion.

Its purpose as a handbook is to explain the origin and use of some ofthe forms which are presented to the eye of the visitor to these ancientmonuments, not as being the result of caprice, or mere æsthetic motives,{vi}but as derived originally from a deep conviction of the living truthwhich their founders professed, and which they attempted to express inall their constructive work.

It is intended that the book may also be found useful as an elementaryintroduction to the study of Gothic Architecture through the manyelaborate and exhaustive treatises which are published on the subject.To such students, literary study should be supplemented by personalacquaintance with buildings recognised as standards of excellence.

The Introduction deals with symbols as the motive of Gothic design. Inthe following pages the various periods of English Gothic are defined bytheir predominating forms and ornaments dating from the seventh to thesixteenth centuries. Simple examples have been chosen in order to avoidthe confusion which might result from the choice of more complexillustrations.

In the preparation of the illustrations the works of Agincourt, Didron,{vii}Owen Jones, and the late Jethro A. Cossins, have been consulted forthose of Plate I. Of the remaining, Plate II., Fig. 5, and Plate V.,Fig. 1, are from works of Parker and Rickman respectively. Five detailsare from photographs; the remainder are from original sketches andstudies by the Author.{ix}{viii}

LIST OF PLATES

PLATE PAGE
I.Byzantine and Early Christian13
II.Anglo-Saxon21
III.Norman27
IV.Transitional, 1145-1190 (Norman to Early English)35
V.Early English39
VI.Decorated45
VII.Decorated47
VIII.Perpendicular53
IX.Perpendicular55
X.English Gothic Roofs63
XI.Vaulting71
XII.Vaulting73

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CHRONOLOGY

The popular classification of English Gothic Architecture divides thestyle into four periods, thus:

NormanWilliamI.,1066,to RichardI.,1189.
Early EnglishRichardI.,1189,to EdwardI.,1272.
DecoratedEdwardI.,1272,to RichardII.,1377.
Perpendicular    RichardII.,1377,to EdwardVI.,1547.

These terms are useful, but not sufficiently descriptive. They weresuperseded by the late Edmund Sharpe’s “Seven Periods,” the terms ofwhich are derived from the forms of the windows and their tracery, butare applicable to other details.

SHARPE’S “SEVEN PERIODS.”

Saxon  1066.
Norman1066to1145.
Transitional11451190.
Lancet11901245.
Geometrical      12451315.
Curvilinear13151360.
Rectilinear13601550.

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PLATE I

BYZANTINE AND EARLY CHRISTIAN{14} 

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PLATE I

English Church Architecture
of the Middle Ages

INTRODUCTION

Plate I

BYZANTINE AND EARLY CHRISTIAN

THE term Gothic was applied originally as one of contempt in thefifteenth century by the architects of the Renaissance, who attempted toreproduce the ancient architecture of Rome, and considered Mediæval Art,which had ruled all departments of design throughout Europe during thethree preceding centuries, to be no better than the invention of theBarbarians, the Goths, and the Vandals, who overran the Roman Empire inthe fourth century. During the three previous centuries the persecutedconverts to Christianity were driven to take refuge in any hiding-placeavailable. In Rome they descended to the Catacombs, the undergroundworkings of the ancient Roman stone quarries, consisting of narrow,{16} lowpassages, their aggregate lengths amounting to hundreds of miles. Therethey quarried out of the rock their chambers for assembly, where theygathered for worship in the light of torches or lamps, and excavatedrecesses for the burial of their dead. These chambers were imitated inthe form of the Crypts (hidden chambers) existing under some churchesand cathedrals. (Compare Plate I., Figs. 1 and 2.) The walls of thecatacombs have rude incised inscriptions and carvings revealing theChristian Faith by symbols, such as the cross, suggesting theCrucifixion—the emblem of sacrifice; the circle, the line withoutend, the symbol of Eternity (Plate I., Fig. 3); the triangle,trefoil, and triquetra, symbols of the Trinity (Figs. 6, 7, and 8);the quatrefoil of the four evangelists (Figs. 9 and 10). The fishwas adopted as a symbol of the Redeemer, because the letters of theGreek word icthys, when used as an acrostic, gave the initials of thewords—Jesus, Christ, God, Son, Saviour (Plate I., Fig. 11). This symbolwas extensively adopted in the decoration of baptismal fonts.

The Vesica piscis (Latin, the bladder of a fish) (Plate I., Fig. 5)was used as a nimbus or{17} glory to surround the figure of a sacredpersonage in sculpture and in painting. Its name shows the use of Latinterms in the Roman Church as distinguished from the Greek inByzantium, which was an ancient Greek city adopted by Constantine, theChristian Emperor, as the capital of the eastern division of the RomanEmpire under the new name of Constantinopolis—the modernConstantinople. But the term “Byzantine” has been retained in mattersrelating to art. Plate I., Figs. 15 and 16, show the Greek Cross, whichis a version of the Greek letter chi combined with the letter rho(similar to the English P). This symbol represented the name Christ,and was the Christian standard, the Labarum, chosen by the EmperorConstantine.

Plate I., 3A. The sacred monogram generally found in church decorationstands for the Latin phrase Jesus hominum Salvator—“Jesus, theSaviour of men.” The Greek letters IHS (iota, eta, sigma) gave thefirst three letters of the name Jesus.

In the plan of an English cathedral or cruciform church, the symbol ofthe Latin Cross is made the basis of its form (Plate XI., Fig. 1).{18} (TheByzantine or Greek Cross has the four limbs of equal length.) TheNave, N. (Latin, navis, a ship, a symbol of the Church), is built fromwest to east. The Choir or Chancel, which is screened off by aCancellum or lattice, is in continuation of the Nave to the east end.This in some cathedrals includes the Lady Chapel, which was in mediævaltimes dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

In several churches and some cathedrals the head of the Cross, theChancel or Choir, is not in line with the Nave, but is slightly inclinedto one side—not in all cases the same side. Two explanations are givenfor this, one being its orientationi.e., the axis of its lengthpoints to the rising of the sun on the day of its foundation, which doesnot coincide with that of the Nave, the Chancel having been commenced atan earlier or later date and different season of the year. The othertheory is that it symbolises the head of Christ falling on one side indeath.

Plate I., Fig. 14 (from the “Grammar of Ornament”), shows an ornamentaldesign composed entirely of early Christian symbols. Plate I., Figs. 12and 13, carved ornament and{19} a capital bearing crude resemblance to anancient Ionic capital. Both Figs. 12 and 13 are under the influence ofGreek and Roman Art without reference to symbolism.

Plate I., Fig. 4, shows a chevron (a French military ornament), adecoration dating back to ancient Egypt, where it symbolised the wavesof the Nile, and was adopted in many later periods, and becameconspicuous in the Norman arches of English architecture.{21}{20}

PLATE II

ANGLO-SAXON

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PLATE II

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Plate II

ANGLO-SAXON

THERE can be no doubt that Christianity found its way into Britain earlyduring the Roman occupation, but was suppressed through the violentpersecutions by the Pagan tribes who ruled following the Roman departureA.D. 410, to be revived and further developed after the mission of St.Augustine, A.D. 597, from Rome to the Anglo-Saxons, who occupied Britainbetween the fifth and eleventh centuries.

The church of Greenstead, in Essex, is one of the most ancient in thecountry, and was built by Anglo-Saxons. Its walls are of substantiallogs of timber placed upright upon a foundation of rude stonework. Thismethod appears to be a survival of their method of building theirdwellings.

Of stone buildings, the church tower of Barton-on-Humber (Plate II.,Fig. 6) is a good example of Anglo-Saxon work. In it the ex{24}ternalangles of the tower and of the door and window openings have theirquoins (corner stones) of “long-and-short” work, the name applied toSaxon masonry of this kind, in which long stones are placed on end withshort stones laid flat, suggesting their origin to be the work ofcarpenters who would place timbers in such positions, contrasted withthat of masons, who would place all stones horizontally or atright-angles to pressure.

In this example and the very fine one at Earls Barton, Northamptonshire,this “long-and-short” work is carried over the exterior of the wall as akind of surface decoration.

Plate II., Fig. 3, shows the present-day manner of framing timbers in apartition with sill (s.), posts or studs (p.), lintel (l.), inclinedstruts, and corbel-blocks (c.b.).

Saxon timber framing would be on similar lines, and this manner wasperpetuated traditionally in their stone walls. The practice ofimitating woodwork in stone and vice versa is one to be found in theworks of all ages from remote antiquity. The heads of Saxon door andwindow openings were either semicircular (Plate II., Figs. 7, 8, and 9)or formed by placing{25} two stones inclined to each other thus—ʌ, and ashort column or rude baluster was sometimes placed between two windows.

[Note.—The window over the clock face (Plate II., Fig. 6) is aninsertion of a later period.]

The interesting little church at Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire, shows thesame manner of building (Plate II., Fig. 1).

Anglo-Saxon bell-towers appear to have been generally covered with aroof of the form shown in Plate II., Fig. 5, as at Sompting, Sussex.{27}{26}

PLATE III

NORMAN, 1066-1189

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