Welcome to the Gothic Pages

This topic looks at the evolution of Gothic architecture.  The topic starts by briefly describing the transition in style which took place during the 11th to 15th centuries and then examines some of the main elements (windows, vaults etc) in a bit more detail. 

A corbel table on one of the transepts at Winchester Cathedral. This is Norman work (pre Gothic) and dates from the early 12th century. The corbel table sits just below the roof line.

Summary of video styles

The Topic starts with the Normans who invaded England in 1066. They built their churches and cathedrals in a style known as Romanesque The term 'Gothic', which refers to the later Early English, Decorated and Perpendicular styles, would have meant nothing in the Middle Ages - the word was coined by devotees of classical architecture in the late renaissance period, and was, in fact, a pejorative comment on medieval architecture. The term may have been down to the 16th century art critic Giorgio Vassari who compared the architecture to the Barbarians and Goths who ransacked Rome. 

In the 19th century opinions changed; Pugin, the neo-Gothic Victorian architect, remarked that classical architecture, based on the buildings of Rome and Greece, was nothing more than 'log cabin' architecture - merely a collection of columns and beams.

Some of the later cathedrals and churches tend to be built in a single style; many of the earlier ones  have been altered and extended over the years and it's not uncommon to find a cathedral containing Norman, early English, Decorated and Perpendicular work.    

The Gothic period ends in the mid 1530s with Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries, although a Gothic 'revival' took place during the Victorian period. These pages are primarily concerned with the earlier period.  

Many regard Wells Cathedral (right) as the first genuine Gothic building in England. There are other good examples of Early English work at Salisbury and Lincoln.

Many of the photos featured in this Topic are of churches and cathedrals in the south west of England. This is partly because of logistical limitations, partly because there are some excellent examples in the south west, and partly because the Topic was initially conceived as a UWE student module. We hope to add more examples in the future.       

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