The last of Thomas Rickman’s (s.p.b.s) medieval church building styles was Perpendicular, the term referring to the vertical thrust of most window tracery. The Perpendicular style of architecture was to become solely British and was also characterised by very large windows shedding daylight in the interior, by complex vault systems supporting the ceilings, by the raising much higher of towers and spires and by various changes to the style of arcades built in naves and chancels.
The picture above shows part of the choir and presbytery (area in the chancel reserved for the incumbent where the high altar was sited) and east window of Gloucester cathedral. It is claimed that it was in this part of the cathedral that the Perpendicular style of architecture was being pioneered in the late 14th century (let’s remember that this is a term applied much later, at the time the architect/master mason was developing a new style, what name he used for it we do not know) evidenced in the complex lierne vault (heralding the fan vaulting of the 15th century as can be seen in the vault of the cloistral corridor at Gloucester cathedral), the loftiness of the building and in the great east window.
It is also the case that the re-building of the nave at Canterbury cathedral completed in 1405, master-minded by Henry Yevele one of the few master masons for whom documentary evidence survives, pioneered the Perpendicular style of architecture.
At Norwich cathedral a later lierne vault was built above the nave and chancel incorporating a multitude of carved bosses which provide much evidence about life, folklore and beliefs at the time, 1460s to 1480s.
Great Perpendicular west/east windows often replaced those of earlier styles both in cathedrals and in parish churches.
Lofty crossing towers, often incorporating ornate parapets and pinnacles, also characterised building/re-building programmes of the 15th century.
(to be continued)