The arches in buildings erected in the 14th century are broader and less sharply pointed than those in earlier Gothic buildings. A particular kind of arch which we call an `ogee' is very common. Vach side of the arch curves first one way and then the other, like a shallow.
By this time glass was becoming more plentiful and stained glass was popular, so windows were made much larger. The tracery in the upper parts of windows is often very elaborate, and bars of masonry are formed into flowing, twisting patterns, like stone lace.
Columns in `Decorated' buildings may be plain or octagonal, or a number of shafts may be joined together to make a clustered pier. Mouldings are shallower than before, and the hollow moulding is often decorated with circular knobs of carved masonry called 'ball-flowers'. Carved foliage on capitals and crockets is flatter, and often represents sprays of recognizable leaves, such as oak or maple. Some of the loveliest examples are to be seen in Southwell Minster.
Vaulted roofs are more complicated and the main ribs often have short ribs connecting them and arranged so that they form geometrical patterns. Where ribs cross each other there are `bosses' of carved stone as there were, too, in the previous century. Bosses are often high up in the shadows and difficult to see, but they are worth peering at as they often represent human beings or fantastic beasts and illustrate all kinds of strange stories and legends.
Exeter Cathedral is a fine example of the Decorated style, and there is plenty of 14th-century work to be seen in Ely, York, Lichfield, St. Albans and other cathedrals, and in smaller churches to which windows, aisles or other details were added at this time. Heckington in Lincolnshire and Patrington in Yorkshire are examples of parish churches that were built during the 14th century.
A few stone dwelling-houses have survived from the Middle Ages, though the timber houses in which most people lived have disappeared. In the larger houses there was usually a big, lofty hall, open to the roof so that the smoke from the fire which burnt in the centre could escape through a hole left for it. At the upper end of the hall there was a raised dais on which the master and his family had their meals. Behind the dais there was often a two-story building at right angles to the hall. The lower room was a storeroom and the upper one was a private sitting-room and bedroom for the family. It was called the solar. The solar was usually, in early days, reached by means of an outside stair from the courtyard, but later stone houses had a spiral stair in a tower at one corner of the hall.
At the lower end of the hall were the outer doors, one in each side wall and facing each other. They were separated from the hall by a wooden partition, or screen, which formed a passage from one door to the other. In the end wall there were doors leading from this passage into the buttery and pantry and into a passage between them which led to the kitchen, which was usually a separate building. Over the buttery and pantry there might be guest-rooms, and perhaps a chapel, reached by means of another spiral stair.
There was usually a porch before the front door, and a wall enclosed the whole house and its courtyard. The gate was usually opposite the main door of the house, and in large houses there was a gate-house.
Penshurst Place, Kent, which was built in 1341, is a famous example of a house of this kind. Others are Ightham Mote, also in Kent, and Sutton Courtney in Berkshire. Even earlier, simpler houses are Charney Bassett Manor House, Berkshire, and Little Wenham Hall.
Decorated Gothic. (Top left) 14th century carved capital. (Top right) Clustered pier. (Bottom left) Ball flower ornament (Bottom middle) 1rth century tracery with ogee carved (Bottom right) Mouldings
Plan of Medieval House
In buildings erected in the later Gothic period windows are even larger than before. They often take up the whole of the space between the buttresses.
The strips of masonry which separate the lights from one another (which we call mullions) are thinner, and instead of curving to form flowing designs in the upper part of the window they go straight up until they meet the enclosing arch. These vertical lines in the tracery give the style its name-'Perpendicular'. This kind of tracery is purely English and is not found in any other country.
Horizontal bars of masonry, called transoms, divide the huge windows up into panels. Similar panelling, carved in stone, decorates wall surfaces. Arches are flattened, and the hood-mould over doors is often square. Mouldings are very shallow and carved foliage is flat and geometrical.
Often the most striking thing in a 15th-century building is the vaulted roof, for it was then that masons learned how to produce the wonderful fan-vaulting which we can see in the cloisters of Gloucester Cathedral, in Henry VIPs Chapel in Westminster Abbey, in King's College Chapel, Cambridge, and in St. George's Chapel, Windsor-among other places.
There are some splendid and very elaborate timber roofs, too, such as the hammer-beam roofs in Westminster Hall, London, and Eltham Hall, Kent.
From the outside the low-pitched roofs are usually hidden behind a parapet which is often battlemented, not for defence but for decoration. Quite often the parapets are carved and pierced so that the light shines through them. Little miniature battlements are used to ornament the edges of screens, tombs, partitions and similar things.
(Top left) Perpendicular window (Top right) 15th century doorway (Middle left) Carved capital (Middle right) 15th century mouldings (Bottom left) Fan vaulting
(Top left) Perpendicular Tower (Top right) Hammer Bean Roof (Bottom left) Parapet (Bottom right) Oriel window