The styles we have already noted leave certain definite impressions upon the mind : the Grecian suggests beauty and refinement the Roman, power and vastness : and the Norman, pride and strength. Gothic has a subtle beauty which it is difficult to analyse. Verticality is its chief feature : light clusters of delicate, slender shafts and lofty arches carry the eye heavenwards by their airy grace, as if the designers meant to draw the beholder's thoughts to things above this earth. It is this uplifting solemnity which makes us feel on entering a vast cathedral that we are treading on holy ground.
The term GOTHIC is applied to the various styles of POINTED architecture which prevailed in Western Europe from the days of our King Richard down to the time of Elizabeth.
Some think that the pointed arch was made popular by its appearance in arcades formed by intersecting arches, but it is more probable that masons invented the pointed vault and arch as the best means of avoiding the many difficulties which followed attempts to span unequal spaces with the semi-circular vault.
The chief characteristics of Gothic Architecture are the use of (1) pointed arches, (2) large buttresses, (3) pinnacles and spires, (4) gables, (5) towers, (6) clustered pillars in place of columns, and (7) vaulted roofs.
English Gothic Architecture is divided into four distinct periods, viz. : Early English (1.189-1307), Decorated (1307-1377), Perpendicular (1377-1485), Tudor (1485-1603). It must be remembered, however, that development was continuous, and that the change from one style to another was always gradual, many designs being, so to speak, mixed in character during the period of transition.
EARLY ENGLISH GOTHIC reached its noblest form during the reign of King John. Long, narrow lancet windows : slender, lofty, pointed arches : high-pitched roofs : vaulted ceilings and spires are the chief characteristics of this style. Doorways are generally richly moulded ; columns, very slender, and mouldings bold and undercut, the hollows being frequently filled with the tooth ornament.
Salisbury Cathedral is the finest example of Early Gothic architecture. The foundations were laid in 1220 ; the tower dates from 1331, and the spire was erected between 1335 and 1375.
DECORATED GOTHIC prevailed in England from about 1272 to 1.377, that is, during the reigns of Edward I, Edward II and Edward III. The Decorated style has many features which distinguish it from the Early English. The heads of the windows are filled with geometrical or flowing tracery, and rose windows are a common feature. Crockets, finials, canopies are larger, finer and of more frequent occurrence. Mouldings lack the deep shadows of earlier work, the hollows being fewer and shallower. The ball flower is used instead of the tooth ornament (see page 20) and often in too great profusion. Buttresses stand even farther out and are often terminated by gables. At corners they are placed diagonally.
A Buttress in Early Gothic
A Ball Flower Ornament
EARLY ENGLISH. Long, narrow windows are well-known characteristics of the Early English style. Their height is commonly six times their width. The grouping of lancet windows under one arch and the piercing of the space above them produced " plate " tracery. Later, instead of building several windows and then piercing, one big window was built and divided by bars. This produced " bar tracery. Cusps later became common.
DECORATED GOTHIC. Windows themselves are wider and wall spaces narrower, owing to the use of deeper buttresses. At first, tracery consisted of simple forms such as circles and trefoils and was known as " geometrical " tracery.* Later the stone-work followed sinuous lines, and was then known as " flowing " tracery.
PERPENDICULAR GOTHIC. In this style vertical bars are more freely used, and later the mullions are continued up to the head of the arch. Transoms or horizontal bars also become a common feature.
Lincoln Cathedral, The Angel Choir. Lincoln Cathedral was consecrated in 1092. It embraces every variety of style from Norman to Late Decorated. The Angel Choir shown in our illustration is in the Decorated style, and is considered to be the finest example of the period. It dates from 1258-1288. The east window is also famous.
Perpendicular and Tudor
Near the end of the reign of Edward III, 1327-1377, the process of decay in Gothic art is apparent. The prevalence of vertical lines in buildings, generally, accounts for the term, " Perpendicular."
Vertical bars become commoner in windows, and later are continued to the head of the arch, and transoms, or horizontal bars, are frequently used, the resulting design appearing stiff and square. The style becomes less and less " pointed." In late work, windows are enlarged and occupy most of the space between the buttresses. Parapets, often battlemented, but seldom with any appearance of being really defensive, become marked decorative features ; and shallow panels, in late work often covering the whole wall, are used as a means of ornamentation. Mouldings are shallow and lack boldness.
The beautiful church towers built by architects during the reigns of the Lancastrian and Yorkist monarchs are by far the noblest products of this style. Magdalen Tower at Oxford, a remarkable example of Perpendicular Gothic, was finished during the reign of Henry VII, 1485-1509.
Credit must also be given to late Perpendicular architects for developing the famous ornamental vaulting known as fan tracery. The best known example of this in Henry VII's Chapel at Westminster was not completed till 1515.
The Gateway, St. John's College, Cambridge. Built between 1511-1520. (Early Tudor)
(Left) Pillars or Shafts (Right) Perpendicular. A FOUR CENTERED ARCH. (Early Tudor) A new form of arch is frequently used, one struck from four centres and moulded as above.
Magdalen College, Oxford. The Cloisters.
This tower is a remarkable example of Perpendicular Gothic. Many of the beautiful towers built in this style had several storeys with large canopied windows and double buttresses at the angles.