This little work was originally written as part of a series of Elementary Lectures recommended by the Committee of the Oxford Architectural Society to be delivered to the junior Members of the Society, in the spring of 1849. They were considered useful and interesting by those who heard them, and as it was thought they might be equally 80 to others who had not the same opportunity, the President, in the name of the Society, requested the author to publish them. Mr. Winston's admirable Introduction to the Study of Painted Glass, formed part of the same series of Elementary Lectures, and has also been published under the same auspices.

The distinction between “plate tracery” and “bar tracery" was first clearly pointed out, and these names applied to them, by Professor Willis at the meeting of the Archæological Institute at Salisbury in August, 1849. This distinction is of so much importance in the history of architecture, and these names are so expressive, that when once pointed out it was impossible to avoid making use of them.

The chapter on French Gothic is chiefly the result of observations made on a tour in the central part of France in the summer of 1849, assisted by the remembrance of several previous visits to Normandy.

The author is happy to take this opportunity of expressing his obligation to several friends for the valuable information and suggestions with which they have favoured him, especially to the Rev. Professor Willis, and R. C. Hussey, Esq., and in France to M. De Caumont of Caen, M. ViolletLeduc of Paris, and the Abbé Bulteau of Chartres. He trusts that the slight sketch which he has been enabled to give of French Gothic, and the comparison of it with English, will lead to a more careful investigation of that interesting subject.

The TURL, OXFORD, Nov. 6, 1849.





The Architecture of the Middle Ages is usually divided into certain periods or styles, for the convenience of classification and to assist the memory. These styles are by no means arbitrary, they are strictly historical periods, during which certain characters prevailed, succeeding each other in a regular, natural, and well ascertained order. The change from one style to another was not immediate, it generally took about a quarter of a century to effect the transition, and the last quarter of each of the five centuries, from the eleventh to the fifteenth, was such a period of change or transition. The buildings remaining in England of the period prior to the eleventh century are few and unimportant.


1. To the eleventh century belong the greater part of the buildings supposed to be Saxon. In the last quarter of the century, the Norman a style was introduced.

2. In the twelfth century, the buildings belong chiefly to the Norman style. In the last quarter, the transition from the Romanesque or Norman to the Early English or first Gothic style took place.

3. In the thirteenth century, the buildings belong to the style which is usually called Early English, the last quarter is the period of transition to the Decorated style.

4. In the fourteenth century, the general character is Decorated, the last quarter is the period of transition from the Decorated to the Perpendicular style.

a This nomenclature and this classification are alike confined to England, and English work. The names of First Pointed, Middle Pointed, and Third Pointed are general, and intended by their authors to be applied to all Europe. But as the progress of the art was not simultaneous, and it would be entering on too wide a field to attempt to point out the character in each country at each period, it will be more convenient to confine our attention to England, and to make use of the received terms, which are most generally understood, and most applicable to the peculiar features of our own buildings.

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