Here are ten questions based on Jon Cannon’s new book Medieval Church Architecture, which offers a guide on how to understand the design of churches in medieval England:
By Jon Cannon
Shire Publications, 2014
Britain is a treasure trove of medieval architecture. Almost every village and town in the land has a church that was built during the period, whose history is legible – to those who know how to look – in every arch, capital, roof vault, and detail of window tracery. By learning how to identify the stylistic phases that resulted from shifts in architectural fashion, it is possible to date each part of a church to within a decade or two; this book introduces all the key features of each succeeding style, from Anglo-Saxon and Norman through to the three great gothic styles, Early English, Decorated and Perpendicular. It will be indispensable to anyone who enjoys exploring medieval churches, and who wants to understand and appreciate their beauty more deeply.
Excerpt: The aim of this book is to enable beginners to recognise these styles as they appear in England. To this end, I picked out in particular those details that are the most foolproof and easy to remember, and that can thus be described as diagnostic when identifying a given style, while paying less attention to those that are harder to distinguish from each other. Learn these, and you are halfway there. The most straightforwardly diagnostic elements are often ornamental: the way foliage is carved, for example, or the patterns of tracery seen in windows. Other features, such as the shapes of arches and stone patterns made in roof vaults, are also helpful to diagnosis; the mouldings with which all these things are articulated can, by contrast, be challenging for the beginner, and only the more straightforwardly diagnostic developments are addressed here.
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