Gothic: English, Brick, Sondergotik

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This week is dedicated to our last post on interpretations of Gothic Architecture. As you hopefully remember from our introduction, the geographic location is an important factor in the development of regional architectural styles. In this post we will feature the so called English Gothic with all its nuances as well as Brick Gothic and the German Sondergotik. These are only 3 of many styles associated with Gothic and we hope that you will also check out our previous posts!

English Gothic

English Gothic developed from the French Gothic in the years around 1180 and flourished up until 1520. The earliest examples of the style are the well-known Canterbury Cathedral and Westminster Abbey. The English Gothic certainly draws inspiration from its French brother, but is also a natural development out of the English Romanesque Style, also known as the Norman Style. Gothic was particularly popular in England and continued to flourish when much of continental Europe had embraced the Renaissance Style. I believe it goes without saying that you can find examples of this style anywhere on the British Isles πŸ™‚

One of the main factors which distinguish English Gothic from its continental counterparts is the emphasis on length, rather than height. Although verticality can still be felt as an important element, English constructions generally take up more space horizontally. This also allowed for a reduced use of flying buttresses which were so typical in French cathedrals at the time.

As we already know from the introduction to Medieval Architectural Styles, English Gothic is commonly divided into three periods.

The main characteristic of the Early English Period is the introduction of the pointed arch.

The Decorated English Period gets its name from intricate window tracery and generally more elegant construction, including ribbed vaults.

Lastly, Perpendicular English Gothic is characterised by the immense size of stain glass windows and more importantly (wooden) hammerbeam roofs.

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Brick Gothic

Examples of the Brick Gothic are most commonly found in Northern Europe and the Baltic Sea Region in particular. This region is notoriously poor in natural stone resources which made it impossible to build imposing structures of broken stone at the time. Instead bricks were formed of lime in which the region is generally rich. Similarly, art historians find brick examples of the Romanesque and the Renaissance period. What makes Brick Gothic unique is its lack of figural architectural sculpture and its overall plainness. The striking colour of the facades makes such elements unnecessary. Ornamental embellishment was achieved through different brick shapes whenever necessary. While you are travelling you may find examples of the style in Germany, Poland, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and the Baltic countries.

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Sondergotik

The German Sondergotik, or Special Gothic, is a Late Gothic Style which flourished most dominantly in the German speaking regions of Europe between 1350 and 1550. Its main characteristics are rich embellishment, wood-like stone carvings and curved/broken rib patterns of the vaults. On the outside a large number of buttresses is usually visible. The German speaking region at the time was not a uniform empire, but rather a conglomerate of several sovereign regions. Due to this fact the style was restricted to a very small geographic region and not adapted well across borders. Unfortunately only few examples of Sondergotik can be enjoyed today, but you may find some in the Czech Republic, Austria or Bavaria.

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Now, what do you think? Is there anything we have missed? Have you already learnt anything from this guide? Which is your favourite architectural style?Β Share your thoughts and pictures with us. Let’s stay in touch!

18 Comments

  1. What a great and informative post! I did not know any of this before. Now I will look at the architecture here in Germany and in Europe differently. One question, what program do you use for your graphics? I really love them.

    • Hi Olga and thanks so much for your comment! I’m glad we inspired you to see a new angle of your home πŸ™‚
      We use Canva.com for all our graphics. If you haven’t tried it yet, we warmly recommend it!

      Jacky

  2. This was really interesting! I never knew any of this either! I love the architecture in Europe and now I will be able to tell what kind it is on my next trip!

    • Thank you so much for your comment, Erica! Glad you enjoyed the post and learnt something. There’s always more to explore in Europe πŸ™‚

      Jacky

  3. There is so much information in this post. I appreciate the efforts you have put in to study and document the different gothic styles of architecture. I m quite amazed to know that the style differs by region and country.

    • Hi Sindhu and thanks so much for your comment! Yes, architecture just like any other art is inspired by its immediate surroundings. It’s really rather fascinating.
      Glad you enjoyed the read πŸ™‚

      Jacky

  4. I think I like gothic best in all the different Cathedrals. But I like it best when things are mixed and you see the different eras of building in 1 structure. I really like how you put together these series, a very valuable serie with information.

    • Hi Naomi and thanks for your comment! True, don’t we all live off contrasts? It’s amazing to see so many styles in one structure. In a way it’s sad, because so much of the old gets lost, but new can be exciting πŸ™‚

      Jacky

  5. You’ve certainly researched your Gothic architectural styles, guys. Well done! I learnt a bit about the different kinds of Gothic styles. Nice touch with the examples and photos too. I didn’t realise Westminster Abbey is Gothic.

    • Hi Christina! Haha, yes, quite a bit of research goes into these, thank you πŸ˜‰ There are quite a lot of Gothic structures in the UK, actually, but many of them are revivals πŸ™‚
      Thanks for your comment!

      Jacky

  6. This is such a fascinating post – I didn’t even know there were different gothic architectural styles! It’s too bad that the Special Gothic style can’t be viewed in many countries but I’ll definitely be on the lookout for it if I make it to Austria or Bavaria!

    • Hi Flo and thanks for your comment! Indeed, I didn’t know that either before I started research for this series πŸ˜€
      There are more Gothic styles for you to explore, check out our other posts if you are interested πŸ˜‰

      Jacky

  7. Hey great post! I like architecture but I must admit most of the time I couldn’t tell you what I am looking at! This post was very informative I also like the info graphics you have created under each point πŸ™‚ x

    • Hi Veronica and thanks for your comment! I’m reallt glad that you enjoyed the read and learnt something. A lot of time goes into the graphics, so it’s certainly lovely to hear that you like them πŸ™‚

      Jacky

    • Hi Stephanie! Yes, when I was researching Sondergotik a bit, I at first didn’t belive that they were stone carvings. They are so intricate πŸ™‚
      Thanks for your comment!

      Jacky

  8. I lived in Germany for awhile, and I had no idea there was a specific gothic style attributed to the country! I don’t think there was any Sondergotik in Trier, as it was a Roman city in the past, but it would be fascinating to go find some examples in Europe.

    • Hi Annie and thanks for your comment! Actually only few examples of what we call Sondergotik exist and the term is a little controvential. No, I don’t think you would find any Sondergotik in Trier, but the Trier cathedral is a stellar example of Romanesque architecture! Even only few of these exist anymore πŸ™‚

      Jacky

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