The Medieval Parish Church

Course summary

The Medieval Parish Church



Overview

The Oxford Experience is a residential summer programme providing one-week courses in a variety of subjects aimed at non-specialists. It offers a choice of seminars each week over a period of six weeks.

Medieval parish churches form the largest category of surviving archaeological monuments in Britain.  Each year huge numbers of tourists visit England’s churches.  But understanding these complex buildings can be difficult.  This course is intended to provide the key to understanding the history that is hidden in these buildings.

 

We begin with the concept of ‘structural criticism’, the means of unravelling the sequence of building phases from the visual evidence.    We will then go on to examine the major styles of ecclesiastical architecture as a means to date the various parts of a building.  The aim is to provide a methodology by which we can read the history of any church that is written in its fabric.

Programme details

Seminars meet each weekday morning, 09.15-10.45 and 11.15-12.45, with afternoons free for course-related field trips, individual study or exploring the many beautiful places in and around the city.

Monday:

An introduction to 'Structural Criticism' - how we can read the history of a building from its fabric.  Examples of how to see where changes in the structure of a building have taken place over time, and how we can interpret these changes.

What can archaeology tell us about churches?  A brief introduction to church archaeology, especially sequences of building revealed during excavations, and the importance of churchyard archaeology and burials.

Tuesday:

A Chronology of Medieval Church-building: Part 1

The Anglo-Saxon Period.  A discussion of Pre-Conquest architectural style with a wide range of examples to illustrate architectural features.  Short visit to the church of St Michael's Northgate, Oxford.

A Chronology of Medieval Church-building: Part 2

The Anglo-Norman period.  A discussion of Post-Conquest architectural style.  The important influence from Normandy.  The development of an Anglo-Norman style.  Architectural features of the Anglo-Norman style.  Decoration and sculpture of the period.

Wednesday:

A Chronology of Medieval Church-building: Part 3

Early English Gothic.  The development of Gothic.  The influence of France, especially St Denis, Paris.  The re-building of the east end of Canterbury Cathedral.  The development of the Early English style.  Decoration and sculpture of the period.

A Chronology of Medieval Church-building: Part 4

Decorated Gothic.  The influence of France, especially Sainte-Chapelle, Paris and Reims Cathedral.  Westminster Abbey - the cult of St Edward the Confessor and a coronation church.  'Geometric' and 'Flowing' styles of Decorated Gothic.  Decoration and sculpture of the period.

Thursday:

Field trip to five churches where we can apply what we have learnt to understand the development of each building.

Friday:

A Chronology of Medieval Church-building: Part 5

Perpendicular Gothic.  An English Style - Gloucester Cathedral.  Comparison between Perpendicular Gothic and French Flamboyant Gothic.  The development of the Perpendicular style.  Lierne, fan and pendulum vaulting.  Decoration and sculpture of the period.  Visit to Oxford Cathedral.

Field Trip:

Stanton Harcourt, Langford, Hook Norton, Dorchester on Thames and Iffley

Excursion Rating: Difficult

Excursion Ratings: Key
(as rated by course tutors)
Easy: Up to an hour's walk on even ground or less than half an hour's walk on rough ground.
Moderate: Up to two hours' walk on even ground or up to an hour's walk on rough and/or steep ground or up lots of stairs and steps.
Demanding: More than two hours' walk on even ground or up to two hours' walk on rough and/or steep ground or up lots of stairs and steps.

Recommended reading

Cannon, J. Medieval Church Architecture, Oxford: Shire, 2014.

Hart, S. Medieval Church Window Tracery in England, Suffolk: Boydell and Brewer, 2012.

Rodwell, R. The Archaeology of Churches, Stroud: Tempus, 2005.

 

Accommodation

During your course, you will stay in typical Oxford student accommodation at Christ Church in buildings which range from the 18th to the 20th century. Bedrooms are modestly-furnished, do not have air-conditioning and are arranged on a staircase of four or five floors.

The fee £1520  includes a bedroom with private bathroom facilities (shower, washbasin and toilet). Most are single but a few twins are available for couples or those who wish to share with a friend. Those couples wishing to book a twin room should contact us direct ipoxex@conted.ox.ac.uk, as these rooms cannot be booked online.

There are also a few standard rooms available which all have their own washbasin and shaver point but the bath and toilet facilities on each staircase are shared. To apply for one of these rooms please select the ‘Programme Fee (with single standard accommodation and meals)’ option on the application form.  Early application for these rooms is essential.

Most standard rooms are single but there are a few ‘twin sets’ (two single rooms opening off a sitting room). If you wish to book a twin set, please contact us direct ipoxex@conted.ox.ac.uk, as these rooms cannot be booked online.

Please indicate your accommodation preferences (either online or on your application form) together with a note of any mobility problems.

We regret that we are unable to offer you accommodation at Christ Church prior to or following your course. Additionally, family or friends who are not enrolled in the programme cannot be accommodated in college.

Fees

Programme fee (with single en-suite accom, field trip and meals): £1580.00
Programme fee (with single standard accom, field trip and meals): £1400.00

Tutor

Mr David Beard

Tutor

David Beard is a freelance archaeologist and is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland specializing in medieval archaeology, especially the Anglo-Saxon and Viking periods. He has been involved in continuing education for many years having taught for the Universities of Oxford, London, Essex and Ulster.

Assessment methods

There are no assessments for this course.

Application

Online registration closes on Tuesday, 1 May 2018 but please note that this course may be fully booked very quickly so early registration is recommended.