Illustrated Dictionary of British Churches - Early English Definition

History and Architecture

Early English

The first phase of Gothic architecture in Britain. The Early English period spanned the years from 1180 to around 1275, following the Romanesque, or Norman period in architecture. The period is sometimes called the Lancet, or First Pointed period. The former term refers to the tall, narrow, pointed windows that were common in Early English style, and the latter term refers to the fact that this was the period when the rounded Romanesque arch was replaced with the pointed Gothic arch.

Early English style is characterised by:

  • pointed arches
  • quadripartite (four part) ribbed vaults
  • lancet windows
  • clustered shafts of tall, narrow piers
The Early English period was followed by the Decorated Gothic period.

Related: Arch   Lancet   Romanesque   Gothic  

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