Today’s illustration, taken from Thomas Rickman’s book (s.p.b.), shows the type of features in church architecture that defined what Rickman named as the ‘Early English’ style. The reason for this name seems obscure but it defines the move from reliance on the round-headed arch (see previous illustration) to the use of the pointed-arch for doors, windows, arcades etc., this then being the earliest type of ‘gothic’ architecture (I suspect this was not Rickman’s term but I could be wrong). Rickman’s illustration above shows stages (progress of fashion) within the Early English era – firstly single lancet windows, later cluster lancets, later still pierced spandrels above two lancets. Also with buttresses, first stepped against the church wall, later flying buttresses (much later). Also with external decoration where mouldings became more diverse.
In fact now the window shown bottom left would be more likely described as of the ‘Geometric style’, often considered a separate architectural style in its own right.
The Early English style of church architecture was mostly in vogue from the early-to mid-13th century, many churches and cathedrals built in the Norman era were extended in the Early English style and, if surviving today, this change is most easily seen. That said, the Early English style of architecture was much favoured by the builders of new churches in the 19th century so care has to be taken against over-confident reliance on the style alone when dating church buildings.
In fact the ‘gothic arch’ style of church building had been experimented with since the late 12th century, the innovation originating in France. The west bays of the nave at Worcester cathedral and the galilee porch at the west end of the nave of Durham cathedral are early examples. The new-build cathedral at Salisbury (s.p.b.) most of this style, the initial building programme being completed in 1258.
(to be continued).