Romanesque — Norman

Norman Architecture

William the Conqueror had the full support of Rome when he set out for England in 1066, for the Pope thought that the Church of England, then in a backward state, would be greatly improved by the settlement of Normans in the land.

The Normans, who were in closer touch with Rome, were, in many ways, more skilful and cultured than the English. They were notable builders. Both the Saxon and Norman styles are Roman in origin, but many authorities regard Norman as the noblest form of Romanesque, and Saxon or English as the meanest.

Norman architecture shows its Roman parentage very clearly. The Norman round arch supported on piers is seen in the great aqueducts the Romans built : the round-headed apse was a common feature of the Roman basilica ; the Norman triforium (first storey) and clerestory (second storey) are developments of the construction shown in such buildings as the Colosseum, where one arcade is placed above another.

Early Norman builders trusted much to the thickness and solidity of their masonry and little to their mortar, which was of poor quality. Thus their earlier buildings possess a general appearance of massiveness, which, when combined, as it is, with a certain austerity of decoration, produces a stern and impressive effect, typical of Norman pride and Norman strength.

A Buttress

A Buttress

Early Christian Basilica Plan

Plan of Early Christian Basilica, Rome. By adding transepts to this the Cruciform plan was developed.

Apse Arcade

(Left) Apse. The elaborate use of the zig-zag ornament. (Right) Arcade. The intersecting round arches which may have suggested the use of pointed arches.

Norman arches of the north  transept,Winchester cathedral

Norman Arches of the North Transept, Winchester Cathedral. This is an example of early Norman work and is distinguished by general massiveness (the central pier looks as if were built to carry three times the weight) and restraint of decoration. This building affords an excellent opportunity for comparing early and late Norman stone-laying. When the central tower felt about 100 years after it was built the transepts were somewhat damaged. The repairs were executed in fine-jointed masonry, which is joined up to the wide-jointed masonry of the earlier and original work.

The chief characteristics of Norman work are (1) round-headed windows ; (2) round-headed doors or square-headed ones placed under an arch ; (3) massive piers ; (4) cushion capitals ; (5) zig-zag, lozenge and beakhead ornament. Circular windows are common in late Norman work.

The sparseness and severity of decoration in early buildings was probably due to the fact that carving was done by the axe, the use of the chisel being uncommon. In early work decoration was confined to the use of the simple arcade and shallow zig-zag and lozenge ornamentation.

Later, as men returned from the First Crusade, a marked change came over Norman architecture. There was (one) a great improvement in the art of stone-laying itself, which permitted the use of less massive piers, and (two) a far freer use of decoration, the axe being replaced by the chisel. In some late, work, indeed, there is a somewhat inartistic profusion of ornamentation.

Norman Ornamentation

Norman Ornamentation

The West Front Iffley Church Oxfordshire

The West Front Iffley Church Oxfordshire. This church dates from about 1135 to 1160. The nave, west front and tower are Norman work: one bay of the chancel is of later date.The West Front is a good example of late, richly-decorated Norman work.


"Tudor" Architecture In Relation To Wall Panelling and Oak Panelling

Examples Of Interior Wall Panelling Oak Panelling Designs Workmanship

"Late Stuart" Architecture

At Kensington Gore City Church Wall Panelling Oak Panelling Designs Architecture

"Palladian" Wall Panelling Oak Panelling Designs Architecture

Late XVIIIth Century Wall Panelling Oak Panelling Designs Architecture

The "Regency" Style

Architecture Introduction

Roman Architecture

Byzantine Architecture

Romanesque — Anglo-Saxon

Norman Architecture

Gothic Architecture

Tudor Architecture

Modern Architecture

Rectangular Keeps

Norman Architecture

Military Architecture XIIIth & XIVth Centuries

Domestic Architecture XIVth Century


Gothic Architecture 12th-16th Centuries

'Decorated' Gothic: 14th century

'Perpendicular' Gothic: 15th century

Elizabethan and Jacobean (about 1550 - 1625)

Renaissance Architecture in England: 17th century

Queen Anne and Georgian: 18th Century

The Regency Style (about 1800-1837)

Wall Panelling and Oak Panelling Design Criteria Through The Last 500 Years

Tudor Symmetry Wall Panelling and Oak Panelling Design Criteria Through The Last 500 Years

The English House Interior

Architectural Period and Its Influence on the Design Criteria of Wall Panelling Oak Panelling

The English Vernacular Architectural Periods and Its Influence on the Design Criteria of Wall Panelling Oak Panelling

The English Country House Architectural Periods and Its Influence on the Design Criteria of Wall Panelling Oak Panelling

Wall Panelling and Oak Panelling Design Criteria Through the Last 500 Years