Style History- English Gothic- Decorated Period c.1290–c.1350

31 May

Decorated GothicThe Decorated Period in architecture (also known as the Decorated Gothic, or simply “Decorated”) is a name given specifically to a division of English Gothic architecture. Other names applied to the period and its architecture include the “Middle Pointed”, “Geometric”, “Curvilinear” and “Flamboyant”.

 

The Decorated style was in use between c. 1290 and c. 1350, according to Sir Nikolaus Pevsner. It was a development of the Early English style of the 13th century, and would itself develop into the Perpendicular style, which lasted until the middle of the 16th century. These terms were originally coined by Thomas Rickman in his Attempt to Discriminate the Style of Architecture in England (1812-1815) and are still widely used. Rickman dated the Decorated period to 1307-1377

Elements of the Decorated style

Decorated architecture is characterized by its window tracery. Elaborate windows are subdivided by closely-spaced parallel mullions (vertical bars of stone), usually up to the level at which the arched top of the window begins. The mullions then branch out and cross, intersecting to fill the top part of the window with a mesh of elaborate patterns called tracery, typically including trefoils and quatrefoils. The style was geometrical at first and flowing in the later period, owing to the omission of the circles in the window tracery. This flowing or flamboyant tracery was introduced in the first quarter of the 14th century and lasted about fifty years. This evolution of decorated tracery is often used to subdivide the period into an earlier “Geometric” and later “Curvilinear” period.

Interiors of this period often feature tall columns (often more slender and elegant than in previous periods) which may support elaborately vaulted roofs. Arches are generally equilateral, and the mouldings bolder than in the Early English Period, with less depth in the hollows and with the fillet (a narrow flat band) largely used. The ballflower and a four-leaved flower motif take the place of the earlier dog-tooth. The foliage in the capitals is less conventional than in Early English and more flowing, and the diaper patterns in walls are more varied.

Notable examples

Examples of the Decorated style can be found in many British churches and cathedrals. Principal examples are those of the east ends of Lincoln Cathedral and of Carlisle Cathedral and the west fronts of York Minster and Lichfield Cathedral. Much of Exeter Cathedral is built in this style, as is the crossing of Ely Cathedral, (including the famous octagonal lantern, built between 1322-1328 to replace the fallen central tower), three west bays of the choir and the Lady Chapel. In Scotland, Melrose Abbey was a noteworthy example, though much of it is now in ruins.

The west front of York Minster is a fine example of Decorated architecture, in particular the elaborate tracery on the main window. This period saw detailed carving reach its peak, with elaborately carved windows and capitals, often with floral patterns. Exeter Cathedral Exeter Cathedral – The longest uninterrupted vaulted ceiling in England
east end of Carlisle Cathedral Carlisle Cathedral nave east end of Lincoln Cathedral
Lichfield Cathedral Ely Cathedral Ely Cathedral- the famous lantern
 
Melrose Abbey, Scotland (now in ruins) Melrose Abbey in 1800 when part of the abbey was still in use as the parish church.  
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