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 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 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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? Share your thoughts and pictures with us. Let’s stay in touch!