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Gothic: Vaulting

Use of the rib vault enabled greater height and large spans

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Winchester Cathedral: the nave vault

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Wynford, William (fl. 1360-1405)
NOTES: Construction on this cathedral began in 1079 in Norman style. The nave was completely remodelled in Perpendicular style to designs by master mason William Wynford and was completed in the 1400s.

York Minster: the nave looking east

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NOTES: The rebuilding of the Minster in Gothic styles began between 1230 and 1241 with the southern wing of the transept, built by Archbishop de Gray. The nave was built in 1291-1321.

Salisbury Cathedral: the central pier of the chapter house

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NOTES: The cathedral was built between 1220 and 1258. The chapter house was built between 1263 and 1284. The tower and the spire were completed by c.1330.

Tewkesbury Abbey, Gloucestershire: the scarlet and red ceiling with gilded bosses and a ring of shining suns over the choir

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NOTES: Construction on the Abbey, officially known as Church of St Mary the Virgin in Tewkesbury, began in 1090. It was consecrated in 1121 and completed by 1150. The shining suns were the emblem of the Yorkists and are said to have been added by Edward IV after the defeat of the Lancastrians at Tewkesbury in 1471, the last important battle of the Wars of the Roses.

Divinity School, Oxford

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Orchard, William (d. 1504)
NOTES: William Orchard was responsible for the vault while Richard Winchcombe, one of the master masons, was probably the designer of the building.

Gloucester Cathedral: detail of the vaulting of the presbytery

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NOTES: The vault was painted between 1870 and 1895.

Chester Cathedral, Cheshire: the cloister

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SOURCE: J. S. Prout. Antiquities of Chester (London, 1838?) NOTES: Construction on the original Benedictine monastery church was begun at the east end in Romanesque style in 1092 and was completed by the Lady Chapel in 1250. The church was rebuilt in Gothic style in 1260-1540. Spared desecration during the Dissolution, the church was elevated to the status of Cathedral in 1541. The church and monastic buildings were extensively, if controversially, restored by George Gilbert Scott in 1868-1876.

Tewkesbury Abbey, Gloucestershire: the chancel

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NOTES: Construction on the Abbey, officially known as Church of St Mary the Virgin in Tewkesbury, began in 1090. It was consecrated in 1121 and completed by 1150. The church interior was renovated in the Decorated Gothic style in the 14th century when the nave roof was given lierne vaulting. The tombs and chantry chapels were added around the chancel in 1350-1450.

Pershore Priory, Worcestershire: the nave vault

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NOTES: This Benedictine abbey church was built in 1090-1130. The ploughshare lierne vaulting and the tower were rebuilt in the Decorated Gothic style in 1290 after a fire. The abbey was dissolved in 1539 and thereafter used as a parish church. The extant church represents only a small part of the original building since it underwent many alterations, including a restoration by George Gilbert Scott in 1852. Only the south transept and tower piers survive from the Norman period.

Westminster Abbey, London: the nave vault and arcade seen from the west

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Yevele, Henry (d. 1400)
NOTES: A Benedictine abbey was established on this site in the 10th century and it has been the coronation church of English monarchs since 1066. Construction on the present church began in 1245. The Gothic nave was begun in 1376 under Abbot Nicholas Litlyngton (d. 1386), and completed by the master mason, Henry Yevele, in the 1390s.

Exeter Cathedral: the nave and north aisle seen from the crossing

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NOTES: The cathedral was founded in 1050 and construction began in 1112 in Norman style and was completed in Gothic style by c.1400.

Gloucester Cathedral: the fan-vaulted monks' lavatorium at the west end of the cloisters

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NOTES: The cathedral was built between 1089 and 1499. It was extensively restored by Sir George Gilbert Scott between 1873 and 1890, and in 1897. The cloisters, begun after 1351 in Perpendicular style and completed before c.1360, have the earliest surviving large-scale fan vaulting.

Worcester Cathedral: the north walk of the cloister

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NOTES: Construction on this cathedral began in 1084. The central tower was built in 1358-1374. Major rebuilding work was undertaken in 1375-1395 with the completion of the nave and crossing, the west front, north porch and east cloister.

Church of St Gregory, Pottergate, Norwich: the tower vault

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NOTES: When this church was made redundant, the building was subsequently converted into St Gregory's Centre for the Arts which opened in 2007.

Wells Cathedral, Somerset: the vaulting of the choir

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NOTES: Construction on the original cathedral began in Early English style in 1180 and was completed by the Lady Chapel in 1326. The nave was completed in 1220-1229 while the choir and new east were added in Decorated Gothic style in the 14th century.

Salisbury Cathedral: the cloister

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NOTES: The cathedral was built between 1220 and 1258. The chapter house was built between 1263 and 1284. The tower and the spire were completed by c.1330.

Cathedral of St Martin (Martinsdom), Mainz: the main altar seen from the high choir

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NOTES: Built between 972 and 1009, the original Romanesque basilica consisted of a nave with two aisles, to which two more Gothic naves were added in the 13th century. The Gothic choir was begun at the beginning of the 12th century and consecrated in 1239.

Capelas Imperfeitas, Monastery of Batalha: detail of the vaulting

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NOTES: The Capelas Imperfeitas form a separate octagonal structure tacked onto the choir of the monastery. Completed in 1533, they were built as a mausoleum for King Edward of Portugal and his descendents.

Gloucester Cathedral: the fan vaulted cloister

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NOTES: The cathedral was built between 1089 and 1499. It was extensively restored by Sir George Gilbert Scott between 1873 and 1890, and in 1897. The cloisters, begun after 1351 in Perpendicular style and completed before c.1360, have the earliest surviving large-scale fan vaulting.

Bristol Cathedral: detail of vaulting in the south aisle

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NOTES: Founded in 1140, this former Augustinian abbey church was elevated to cathedral status in 1542. The nave was rebuilt by George Edmund Street in 1868-1877. The chapter house was built c. 1150-1170.

Wells Cathedral, Somerset: the chapter house

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NOTES: Construction on the original cathedral began in 1180 and was completed by the Lady Chapel in 1326. The nave was completed in 1220-1229. The scissor-arches (inverted strainer arches) were built c. 1338-1348 to support the tower when the foundations of the two western piers sank into the ground. The Chapter House steps were built from 1286 and the upper flight in 1459-1460.

Norwich Cathedral: the north cloister

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NOTES: Construction on the cathedral began in 1096 in the Romanesque style, and the body of the church was completed by c. 1145. But later additions were in the Gothic style. The nave and chancel with its ribbed stone vault was added from c. 1472-1499 under Bishop Goldwell (replacing an original timber roof). The clerestory was added at the same time and the spire was completed in 1485. The cloister was rebuilt between 1300-1400, but retains its original dimensions of 56.5 metres by 56.5 metres and was the largest Romanesque cloister in England. There are three styles of tracery in the cloister: the geometric work in the east (1299-1314), the decorated curvilinear tracery of the south and west (1314-1356), and the perpendicular style of the north (1382-c. 1400).

Norwich Cathedral: nave vaulting seen from below

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NOTES: Construction on the cathedral began in 1096 in the Romanesque style, and the body of the church was completed by c. 1145. But later additions were in the Gothic style. The nave and chancel with its ribbed stone vault was added from c. 1472-1499 under Bishop Goldwell (replacing an original timber roof). The clerestory was added at the same time and the spire was completed in 1485.

Santa Maria dei Servi, Bologna: the nave looking east

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NOTES: The church was begun in 1346 and enlarged after 1386.

St Mary Magdalene, Ickleton, Cambridgeshire: detail of vaulting in the porch roof

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NOTES: The church is a mixture of periods, 12th, 13th and 14th centuries. The interior is largely Norman with reused Roman columns in the nave. The nave was heightened in the 14th century. The chancel was rebuilt in 1882-1883. The church also has a distinctive lead broach spire.
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