There is a natural sense of awe in entering these soaring buildings - but how did their architecture develop through the medieval period? How did change from the massive thick-walled Norman structure of the early 1100s surviving at Ely to the extraordinarily slender Gothic work of Salisbury’s Lady Chapel in the early 1200s occur? We will trace this progression - both in building methods and in the features which distinguish the varying architectural styles. Numerous examples will be given, beyond the cathedral churches featured in the session titles. Sources of inspiration will be considered, in examples such as the revolutionary Gothic architecture of Abbot Suger’s church of St-Denis near Paris with its impact at Canterbury.
We will examine this evolution of cathedral building styles, from Anglo-Norman architecture to the introduction of the Gothic style, with its development into the distinctive forms we now call Early English, Decorated and Perpendicular. A particular fascination in these English cathedrals is how differing styles frequently co-exist in one church as a result of selective rebuilding, for instance in the replacement of Anglo-Norman choirs with new Gothic work.