Talk:Architecture of the medieval cathedrals of England

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Good article Architecture of the medieval cathedrals of England has been listed as one of the Art and architecture good articles under the good article criteria. If you can improve it further, please do so. If it no longer meets these criteria, you can reassess it.
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This article uses British english dialect and spelling.
According to the relevant style guide, this should not be changed without broad consensus.

Concerning grading[edit]

Observing that this article has been graded "low" as an Anglican project, I just checked out the rating scale, to see what qualified as a "low priority article" . What it said was:-

While still notable, these are highly-specialised or even obscure, not essential for understanding the wider picture ("nice to have" articles) eg: Parish of the Falkland Islands.

My comment is as follows:-

No, the architecture of the great medieval cathedrals of England is not an "obscure" subject. And it isn't "highly specialised" either. This is an article about the major works of art produced by the Church in England (as against the Church of England) over a period of about 500 years. They are still serving their purpose. They are the most highly visible evidence of the presence of the church in England. They are loved, visited, studied. Thousands of British school children are taken to them, thousands of French school children traipse through Canterbury Cathedral alone every year because it is accessible from the Channel tunnel. That is the indication of the significance of these buildings.

The article has the same degree of importance as an article describing St Peter's Basilica, Rome would have. (I haven't checked it but it's probably rated high on the Architecture scale and also high on the religion scale).

Amandajm (talk) 13:19, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

There's no point in worrying about these gradings, which nobody takes any notice of & are always wildly erratic, although the Anglicanism project does seem to take this to exteremes. Johnbod (talk) 13:44, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

All it does is put article in classes to better focus the project where work needs to be done. If it seems extereme, it is because I am the only person rating 1,500+ aritcles and people (including project editors) seem to think I have some sort of authority that I do not. This is wikipedia, join the project and be bold if you think a rating is off - you will get no arguement from me. I just overhauled our assessment page in an attempt to get more people involved. I am thrilled to see that this great article exists and was made GA so quickly, well done to all of you!!! It is going on our portal ASAP. Great work everyone!

Please see Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Anglicanism#St. Luke's Church (Smithfield, Virginia). -- SECisek (talk) 21:45, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

Oh I see that is now graded HIGH importance! Amanda, next time you fancy ruffling some feathers you might take a look at the architectural content of that one! Johnbod (talk) 02:15, 21 November 2007 (UTC)

Good Article Review[edit]

Hello! I am Rudget, and will be carrying out this GA review. I have a fairly non-existent knowledge about Cathedrals and so I have a great position in which to read and assess this article. I will leave my comments in a few hours. On first looks, it reads great. Regards, 16:12, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

Good Article Assessment[edit]

This is my assessment of the (current revision) article. Below the assessment are some tips that will help the page even further.

GA review (see here for criteria)
  1. It is reasonably well written.
    a (prose): b (MoS):
  2. It is factually accurate and verifiable.
    a (references): b (citations to reliable sources): c (OR):
  3. It is broad in its coverage.
    a (major aspects): b (focused):
  4. It follows the neutral point of view policy.
    a (fair representation): b (all significant views):
  5. It is stable.
    (Even if was only started 2 days ago!)
  6. It contains images, where possible, to illustrate the topic.
    a (tagged and captioned): b lack of images (does not in itself exclude GA): c (non-free images have fair use rationales):
  7. Overall:
    a Pass/Fail:

Further examination of my findings:

  • All images were suitable and were captioned appropriatelyYesY
  • I was initially concerned about the single-handed dedication by Amandajm to this article, but considering that other editors have had a change to edit the page and correct it appropriately, I decided the article was stable. Even considering it's two day history!YesY
  • I can find no evidence of Original Research. YesY
  • There were only a few grammar, spelling and reference position mistakes. But that's easily rectified.YesY
  • References that were provided were various YesY, and were reliable.YesY

Some things to do[edit]

Here's a list of things to do that helped pass the article, I would suggest doing these as to help the overall readability of the article. These problems weren't major enough (IMO) to not pass the article.

  • There is a reliance on sources 1,2,3 (for example Source 2 is used 60 times.)
  • Some punctuation mistakes
  • Grammar mistakes (e.g leaving only intact it's spire - which should be changed to leaving only it's spire intact)
  • One case of weasel words (eg. Despite this, it is one of the supreme masterpieces of Gothic, revealing the enormous diversity and imagination of English medieval architects.)
  • Remove the section "architectural styles" (It's not needed, it's already wikilinked extensively in the article)
  • Be sure to fix broken links (i.e Tracery in "decorated gothic section")
  • Remove official websites mentioned in the individual mentions of cathedrals - they are not needed.
  • Remove one or two small lists which may affect the readability.

Additional Comments[edit]

This is my first GA review and so I have had no such experience reviewing articles, but this is an outstanding reference to the medieval cathedrals in England, and I'm sure any GA reviewer would agree with me that this is a very good article, especially considering it's age. I am truly astounded by the hard work and effort put into this article, and I especially consider giving a good pat on the back to Amandajm. Well done. 17:09, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

Comments on the comments[edit]

At the risk of seeming argumentative and ungrateful, I am responding to the comments of Rudget! Firstly, I am truly delighted! Secondly, to look at some of the comments:

  • There is a reliance on sources 1,2,3 (for example Source 2 is used 60 times.)
  • Four main references are used- 1,2,3 and 8. There are 143 references, with a reliance of four books of which three are most specific to the article, a few others, both specific and general and some monographs.
  • No 3. Banister Fletcher, is the Bible of architectural history, and is a standard text on English Gothic in particular.
  • The other three of these books contain orderly reviews of all the cathedrals, and were thus the ideal sources for the topic. John Harvey provides all the dates and measurements. AC-T contains "quotable quotes" because he writes in a poetic style. If one cannot say that the facade of Peterborough is a "supreme masterpiece" of Gothic architecture, one must quote Clifton-Taylor, in order to be able to give any sort of verbal "picture" or scale of architectural significance. Tatton-Brown and Crook is a 2002 book with lots of good info.
  • What I could do is simply cut a lot of the references to CC-T, because he and JH both move through the buildings in a similar direction, so to speak. But in many paragraphs, I have combined info from both, or have used CC-T to support JH or BF. In other words, one could write in many cases JH says this and so does CC-T. If I simply remove 20 references to AC-T, there will still be 123 references but it will simply look more balanced.
  • One case of weasel words (eg. Despite this, it is one of the supreme masterpieces of Gothic, revealing the enormous diversity and imagination of English medieval architects.)
This problem again! In describing these, or any buildings, it is not enough to use a word like "famous" or "renowned" which both seem to be acceptable on wiki. The architectural writer seeks a) to describe the character and impression of the building, which is a different thing from saying that it is in the Early English style, and has three tall arches across a facade of 153 feet. This information may be true but tells the reader next to nothing. b) to create a scale of significance for the buildings eg:
  • Ripon Cathedral has a nice, tidy, well-balanced, harmonious facade.***
  • Wells, of the same period, has a magnicent, expansive, rich and highly three-dimensional facade.****
  • But the facade of Peterbough is the "supreme masterpiece".***** It is not only unique, it is very, very different from anything else on the planet, and "overpowering" in the effect it creates when you walk through the gatehouse from the street and are confronted by it. If I say that Michelangelo's ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is a "supreme masterpiece", no-one (no-one sensible) questions it. Well, this facade might not be as well known, but it is right up there with "the Creation of Adam", the Taj Mahal and the "Jupiter" Concerto! The reason why it isn't known to the general public is that:
a) it never was the tallest.
b) Michelangelo didn't do it.
c) it has nothing to do with President Lincoln.
d) Harry Potter hasn't been filmed there.
e) It hasn't been the backdrop to Live Aid.
f) Dan Brown hasn't written about it yet.
One of the problems here is that if I was writing about Heavy Metal music, for example, I would find that the styles, and people's preferences for them were defined down to the enth degree and I could describe the style of a band with a precision that almost defies logic. And these definitions would be of extraordinary significance to those who shop on Itunes.
But no such divisions are available when it comes to the facades of Ripon, Wells and Peterborough Cathedral. These three buildings of enormously different character are simply lumped together as "Early English Gothic". And I, as a writer, have no way to bring them to the wiki public, except by the use of so-called "weasel words".
  • Remove the section "architectural styles" (It's not needed, it's already wikilinked extensively in the article)
This section is not intended to simply describe the styles. The important thing that it does is show how a particular style is applied to and can be seen at a range of different buildings. Canterbury, for example, has Norman architecture, but you would have to search to find it. If you want to see a Norman cathedral then you go to: Durham, Peterbough, Norwich.

Amandajm (talk) 00:58, 21 November 2007 (UTC)

I think these are just thing to think about as we move it to FA. It is a good article. -- SECisek (talk) 01:02, 21 November 2007 (UTC)

External links[edit]

The offical websites should be moved there. -- SECisek (talk) 22:34, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

Yes check.svg Done 17:55, 21 November 2007 (UTC)

Re reversions of changes[edit]

  • Grammar: It was bombed during World War II, leaving intact only its spire, regarded as one of the finest in England.

This was changed to "...leaving only it's spire intact, regarded as one of the finest in England." Definitely No. The first form is correct, the second form is wrong.

  1. The possessive case of "it" doesn't take an apostrophe. It is like "his, hers, yours" etc The rule is clear with "his" but not so obvious with the other and people sometimes get "her's" and "your's" wrong. If you write "it's" you mean "it is".
  2. The subject of the final phrase is "the spire". This is not "intact, which is regarded as... finest in England". It is "the spire, which is regarded as... finest in England."
  3. Forms like "leaving intact" are not particularly common in spoken English but are correct. The two words together constitute a single idea. It would be possible to say "leaving only the spire". But this is not the case. The walls of the building remain, "only the spire" was "left intact". "Sparing" means something similar to "leaving intact".
  • About the facade of Peterborough again, I reverted the changes, because they meant something entirely different to the statement as written.
Saying that the facade is good "despite the changes" is not the same as saying that it is good "taken as a whole".
In the case of the facade of Lincoln, one has a mish-mash of styles and periods, with no architectural unity whatsoever, but "taken as a whole" it is majestic.
In the case of Peterborough, there is a stupendous and totally unified design, marred by two features- that the towers were not both levelled or both raised to the same height, and that a large porch (a nice thing in itself) was jammed into the main arch, therefore completely distracting from the original and brilliant concept. The facade of Peterborough remains majestic "despite" these intrusions.

Amandajm (talk) 02:40, 21 November 2007 (UTC)

Anglicanism portal[edit]

I think it is appropriate to have it in the more prominent position ie. near the intro. Amandajm (talk) 02:28, 22 November 2007 (UTC)


For a new article and DYK entry, this is astounding. Well written on a fascinating subject, with a large amount of detail and lots of excellent and relevant pictures. Take this to Featured Articles immediately! Modest Genius talk 12:18, 22 November 2007 (UTC)

Thank you everybody who has contributed![edit]

  • I am so glad that someone picked up on the fact that Rochester had taken a trip to the west, that York Minster had changed its title and that Norwich was still obstinately offline and the other little things that needed doing.
  • Opinion needed: I have heard both Southwell and Lincoln referred to as "Minster". What are the local preferences?
  • As for putting it up as a Featured Article candidate....I don't know that I have the energy that it takes, just at the moment! The whole business can be a ghastly process! Amandajm (talk) 14:04, 22 November 2007 (UTC)
I would expect to see Southwell Minster & Lincoln Cathedral - as per the titles of our articles. Southwell has only been a cathedral since 1884 (previously in diocese of York), whereas Lincoln has been one since 1072, which no doubt accounts for the difference. Johnbod (talk) 14:41, 22 November 2007 (UTC)

Red link[edit]

Cathedral Architecture - Development and diversity of towers in Western Europe this is linked as the main article for the Towers section of this one - was it renamed or deleted? Lethesl 16:18, 10 May 2008 (UTC)

Deleted, I think! Amandajm (talk) 09:17, 9 January 2009 (UTC)

Abbey churches[edit]

I realise this article is specifically about cathedral architecture, but I note Bath Abbey is mentioned, and was just wondering whether some mention ought to be made in the "scope" section of a few more of the old abbey churches that are now in the Greater Churches Group - some of them are very much in the cathedral architectural tradition, for example Beverley Minster, which missed out on being designated cathedrals in the reformation due to their proximity to other dioceses. Bob talk 10:38, 9 January 2009 (UTC)

Bath abbey is only mentioned as part of the See of Bath and Wells. It is then dismissed as not being relevant to the architectural oevre of this article, and there is no further discussion of its features.
I think we need two more articles, one that looks at the architecture of the great abbey churches, many of which are in ruins, and another about parish churches. An article on the architecture of parish churches could be quite enormous. It might need dividing up. I'll see what I can do.
A comprehensive article about the abbeys would also have to mention those cathedrals that are of monastic foundation, so there would be an overlap. However, when it comes to writing about the medieval cathedrals, authors generally restrict themselves specifically to the cathedrals as I have done, excluding abbeys that are not cathedrals.

Amandajm (talk) 07:05, 11 January 2009 (UTC)

I agree. An article about abbey churches is a nice idea, though. I imagine that there would be some overlap, but that's not neccesarily a problem, and there's probably plenty to say about some of the ruins, especially when they're quite complete (ie Fountains Abbey. Some of them must have been amazing, such as this artist's impression of Bury St. Edmunds Abbey: Bob talk 13:25, 13 January 2009 (UTC)
Wow! What a great pic. Amandajm (talk) 02:01, 14 January 2009 (UTC)

Building dates of Salisbury Cathedral.[edit]

I notice that the dates for the construction of Salisbury Cathedral in this superb article are given as 1220 - 1380. The article on Salisbury Cathedral states 1220 - 1280, a period of 30 years which accounts for the fact that it is built in a single style. I would be most grateful if this date could be reviewed. Richard Avery (talk) 14:42, 9 December 2009 (UTC)

The dates are as follows:

Nicholas of Ely (and probably Elias of Dereham)

  • 1220-25 Lady Chapel (ie the building began at the extreme east, with a part which is usually a later extension, but in this case was part of the original plan)
  • 1225-37 Choir and Choir Transept
  • 1237-58 Great Transept and Nave

Richard Mason

  • 1258-66 West front
  • 1263-84 Cloister
  • 1275-(84) Chapter house

Then there is a gap of about fifty years

Richard Farleigh

  • 1334-1380 Tower and spire

The cathedral was essentially complete in about 1380, but subsidence meant that the arches of the tower were braced and a vault inserted under the tower at later dates. These works were in 1388, 1415 and 1479. Some fairly minor alterations were made in the late 1700s, and the building was restored in the late 1800s

Amandajm (talk) 15:28, 9 December 2009 (UTC)

Many thanks, I guess the problem is deciding when a building is complete. Richard Avery (talk) 07:07, 11 December 2009 (UTC)

  • In this case, the decision is not hard at all. The building was most definitely not complete in 1258. The west front of 1258-66, and the tower and spire of 1334-80 are absolutely integral to the building. It was the "first stage" that took 30 years.
  • Where completion dates are concerned, for other cathedrals that had longer building periods than Salisbury, in the majority of cases the building stood complete, pretty much as it does today, by 1520-30. The exceptions are two that had their nave built/rebuilt in the 19th century (Bristol, Southwark), while at Carlise and Oxford the size of the building was considerably reduced from its 1520 state by the demolition of the west end.
  • Where you find a building date associated with a cathedral that falls between 1520-30 and the late 1700s/1800s, it doesn't refer to a major building program. It refers to the insertion of a memorial chapel into the existent fabric of the building. Only at Westminster Abbey (briefly a cathedral) is there a Gothic cathedral-style building with major part dating from the early 1700s (the towers). St Pauls, of course, was entirely rebuilt in a homogenous style in the late 1600s.
  • From about 1790 (100 years earlier in the case of Lichfield) building restoration commenced. In some cases this was relatively discrete, in other cases the deterioration of soft stone meant extensive replacement, and in some cases there were very intrusive changes to the structure such as the insertion of a big rose window in the transept at St Albans.
Amandajm (talk) 09:38, 11 December 2009 (UTC)

Manchester Cathedral[edit]

Would it be possible to explain the exclusion of Manchester from this particular party? Constitutionally it would seem to me to be in exactly the same case as Ripon and Southwell: that is to say, a medieval church which remained collegiate after the Reformation (O.K. I realise that Ripon had a bit of a hiatus), but was then promoted to Cathedral status in the Victorian period. Is it because so much of the current fabric is Victorian (and postwar) restoration? Or is it because its collegiate architecture is later medieval, and hence tending to look more like a parish church? Or what? TomHennell (talk) 01:48, 8 January 2010 (UTC)

This article is about English Medieval cathedral architecture. All the churches in the article take the physical form of a cathedral. Manchester Cathedral, like the ruined Coventry Cathedral, falls architecturally into the bracket of "large parish church". It doesn't have the characteristics of a cathedral.
In some countries, Italy in particular, there are a very large number of non-ecclesiastical but very large architecturally magnificent churches, St Peter's and San Marco's for a start. There is no architectural difference between a large cathedral and a basilica, and no difference between a small cathedral and a large parish church, even though the cathedral might have been the seat of a bishop for a thousand years. In Padua, for example, the cathedral is much less well known than Sant'Antonio's.
In England there tends to be a demarcation between the two. The parish churches of England are a class of building with its own special character. There are a lot of wonderful late Medieval churches like Manchester. Amandajm (talk) 12:32, 8 January 2010 (UTC)
Except that it isn't the case that Manchester lacks the charateristics of a cathedral; Manchester has a chapter house, ritual choir and pulpitum - like Southwell and Ripon, but unlike Coventry (as was). The predecessor to the collegiate church was presumably of standard parish church design, but that was demollished and entirely replaced during the 15th century (and then in part replaced again in the early 16th century). It is indeed different from early cathedral designs (cruciform with a central tower), which took their cue from monastic precedents; but in the late Medieval period, but that is a matter of date not function. If a cathedral had been built anew in the 16th century, it is likely it would have looked more like Manchester than Ripon. TomHennell (talk) 12:54, 8 January 2010 (UTC)
Although Manchester has a ritual choir and a chapter house, its form doesn't distinguish it from a large parish church. Your opinion as to the direction in which cathedral architecture might have evolved might well be correct. But I can't put that opinion into this article, unless you have published it, or can draw my attention to a reputable source that has. None of the books that I have consulted on English cathedral architecture (as against Tatton-Brown and Crooks book which is general) deal with Manchester as fitting into that category. In fact, Alec Clifton-Taylor specifically excludes it as being "un-cathedral-like". Amandajm (talk) 13:42, 8 January 2010 (UTC)
The main work on the subject - and the only really scholarly one - is the two volume set of Pevsner and Metcalf compilations. This includes Manchester - but then it has all the parish church cathedrals as well. However, if you apply the Alec Clifton-Taylor criteria, you end up with a circular definition a cathedral is a cathedral-like building". The problem, as I see it, is that the article as presently constituted does not refer to a consistent group of structures. "Medieval cathedrals of the provinces of York and Canterbury would be better, and consistent; but you would lose the post-Reformation creations (like Ripon, Southwell and Manchester), and have to include St Davids, Bangor, St Asaph, and Llandaff. "Greater Churches of England" could also be used, which is the definition adopted by Morris in his "Cathedrals and Abbeys of England and Wales".
This is not, however, simply a matter of taxonomy. A medieval abbey church was essentially defined by the benedictine processional (indeed a number of cathedrals and abbeys still retained processional marker stones set into their floors into the 18th or 19th centuries. In this, as in other features like cloisters, secular cathedrals aped their monastic counterparts. What this implied, and how most cathedrals were built, is for a ritual choir to be placed within a cruciform space (usually directly under the central tower, with a processional route all around it, and the high altar and feretory in an Eazstern Apse; and to the west (on the other side of the Holy Cross Altar) a nave processional route. Then, from the late 12th century onwards, most major churches extended eastwards, in the process relocating their ritual choir east of the crossing (and often creating an additional Eastern transeptual crossing to light the relocated feretory). Crucially, almost all major churches then adopted the Use of Sarum, i.e. they were no longer following monastic precedents, but were drawing on a ritual plan devised for a secular cathedral. But you can worship according to the Sarum use without the church building having a cruciform arrangement. Which is why a later medieval collegiate church (like Manchester) looks very different from an early medieval collegiate church (like Ripon); even though in scale they are pretty much identical. TomHennell (talk) 15:17, 8 January 2010 (UTC)
Which suggests rewriting the article - recognising the architecture as being fundamentally and expression of the liturgy practiced within it. TomHennell (talk) 15:17, 8 January 2010 (UTC)

I am not going to continue to argue the point purely on the grounds of architecture, although I must say that St Pauls took on the earlier form.

  • Can I suggest that rather than rewriting the entire article, you rewrite the section on liturgy, including the relevant information.
  • Then, with a few appropriate insertions to the text elsewhere, Manchester can be fitted in.

and can you fix that problem on the Manchester Cathedral page? Amandajm (talk) 11:52, 9 January 2010 (UTC)


I have added a section listing known architects - mainly those for whom I could find a wikipedia article. But it would be much better if editors could add more as they are aware of them. TomHennell (talk) 14:48, 18 August 2010 (UTC)

It's a nice section. I don't suppose you have a reference for the first paragraph do you? Bob talk 15:27, 18 August 2010 (UTC)
I do, and it is will be the same for most of the edits I shall be making to this article. Though I don't have the book to had just at the moment. TomHennell (talk) 08:56, 19 August 2010 (UTC)

Removed data[edit]

This article is about the great medieval cathedrals of England as they stand today. I am never happy about removing someones hard work, but after a year, I have come back to this and realised that a great wad of the edits are off course. This article, in its first and in some subsequent sections makes it fairly clear that it is an article about the cathedrals as they stand.

The history is relevant to understanding the present forms, but the rephrasing and writing of many passages back into the medieval period isn't appropriate. The info on the history of the church an the organisation of the medieval church belong somewhere else. This took up about a third of the article. There was far too much on the saxon era, given that the it is only scantly represented in the present cathedrals. Moreover, none of these additions to the text were referenced. I have restored much of it to the stage it was at when it was rated GA. Amandajm (talk) 06:53, 2 July 2011 (UTC)