Great mistakes in English medieval architecture




Enormous angry owl?

@jlw : Are these ancestors of yours?



Looks like they failed to leave room for electrical conduit, so it had to be run outside the wall. And what’s that turnbuckle thingy?


Sounds EXACTLY how I’ve decorated my home. Owls abound.


Another good example is in Durham Cathedral

I thought we said classical arches.
Look, We’ve been doing gothic all along here for the last ten years.
Oh, fine, and nobody notices until now?
Well, I’m not doing my bit again.
Typical. Just merge it together somehow.
It said bloody gothic on my plan.


I always wondered about this church in Braunschweig Germany, but I have seen other mismatched tower churches in Germany, so perhaps it was a “thing”.


From TFA:

One of the great things about medieval art and architecture is that people just went in and did things…building great cathedrals and abbeys was a learning process as much as anything else.


My understanding is that they used to build what they had funds for and then it might be a period of years before they had more money to continue construction. Thus you see a lot of mismatched styles, asymmetry, and places where they’d just say, “Fuck it, so what if the steeples don’t match, we’re out of money and my back hurts”.

Of course, I can’t remember where I heard this, so it might just be a load of crap. Feel free to add something even more ridiculous to the story and pass it along.


As recently as the mid 19th century here in the USA, the construction of the Washington Monument suffered a similar hiatus.

It was about 27% finished when various factors (including that little fracas that some damnyankees refer to as the Civil War) brought construction to a halt for almost a quarter century.

By the time construction resumed in 1877, the marble for the exterior was either sourced from an entirely different quarry, or from such a different place in the original quarry that it no longer matched in color.


That was my guess or that it took long enough to build that the style changed. There was also that WW II thing that was a bit hard on churches. I asked a guy who lived there his whole life (60+ yrs) and he didn’t know.


The first purely Romanesque substructure followed by a piece of early Gothic, another floor, then follows on the next level, the High Gothic bell tower with the late Gothic towers. With the Reformation and the abolition of the drain funds the construction was not completed, the north tower remained, as in the Andreas church , unfinished.


“It’s too steep, I tell you! It’ll never stand up!”
“Screw it. Just change the angle then. We need to get this done. The Pharaoh isn’t looking too good.”


St. Dionys in Esslingen, Germany

“One of our towers is slowly tilting”
“Ok, let’s build a bridge reinforced by chains”

By JuergenG (Own work) [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons


Go home, spire. You’re drunk.


Well, Germans are famous for their committees…


“The great cathedrals and palaces of medieval England were designed by people who made it up as they went along…”

I’m an architect and we mostly make it up as we go along too! It’s why they call the professions a practice.


So is everyone else in Chesterfield, if they have any sense.


Look, this lot here, an hour and a half. This one, easy, lick of paint, lick o’ paint, lick o’ paint, one hour.


Most “Gothic” cathedrals don’t have domes. But the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine does.

And yes, it was a mistake.

In 1888, the firm of Heins & Lafarge won the contract for the Cathedral with a Romanesque, Byzantine design. Their plan called for a cathedral 520 feet in length crowned at the crossing by a towering conical spire. The choir and the crossing with its four immense arches were completed by 1911 . The Guastavino tile dome, 162 feet high at the apex, was built to temporarily cover the crossing. At the time of completion of the dome, Heins and LaFarge were replaced by Ralph Adams Cram as architect in charge and so began the “second phase” of construction. Though the original plans called for the dome to be replaced by a fleche, the Guastavino dome is still there today.

Vertical Access Quarterly


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