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Definition: Norman architecture from Philip's Encyclopedia

Romanesque architectural style of the Normans in England, N France, and S Italy. Characteristic buildings include the cathedrals at St Étienne and Caen in France, and Durham in England. The style features massive proportions, square towers, round arches, and little decoration.

Summary Article: Norman architecture
From The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Style of architecture used in England in the 11th and 12th centuries, also known as Romanesque. Norman buildings are massive, with round arches (although trefoil arches are sometimes used for small openings). Buttresses are of slight projection, and vaults are barrel-roofed. Examples in England include the Keep of the Tower of London and parts of the cathedrals of Chichester, Gloucester, and Ely.

For architecture in Britain before this period, see Roman architecture: Britain and Anglo-Saxon architecture.

Pre-conquest Romanesque After a lull in church-building during the 8th and 9th centuries, (mainly due to Danish invasions), it recommenced early in the 10th century, and between that date and the Norman conquest of England in 1066 a number of churches were erected. They used to be called Saxon, but because they represent only a cruder form of Continental Romanesque, they are now generally classified as Pre-Conquest Romanesque, whereas those built after 1066 are Post-Conquest Romanesque.

Nothing remains today of Pre-Conquest domestic architecture, and the following are the chief surviving Pre-Conquest Romanesque churches:

10th century: Deerhurst (Gloucestershire); Bradford-on-Avon (Wiltshire); Wing (Buckinghamshire); Worth (Sussex); Earl's Barton (Northamptonshire); Barton-on-Humber (Leicestershire); St Bene't, Cambridge; Wittering (Northamptonshire); and Breamore (Hampshire). St Mary-in-Castro, Dover, may be of either the 10th or the 11th century.

11th century: Bosham (Sussex); Sompting (Sussex); the foundations of Elmham Cathedral (Norfolk), and of St Augustine's Abbey (Canterbury), also possibly the timber church at Greenstead (near Ongar in Essex). The first abbey church at Westminster was begun around 1050 and dedicated in 1065.

Post-conquest Romanesque Surviving buildings of the Post-Conquest Romanesque or Norman period (1066–c. 1200), consist almost entirely of churches and castles. The feudal lords lived in castles or manors surrounded by moats, the peasantry in shacks of wood, or of wattle-and-daub, which perished long ago. The so-called ‘Jews' Houses’ at Lincoln, built of stone, are among the few remaining examples of domestic architecture.

Of the various types of castle found in England, the chief examples are:

(1) Motte: Thetford in Norfolk; (2) Shell-keep: Arundel, Carisbrooke, Clifford, Exeter, Ludlow, Peak; (3) Rectangular keep: London (‘the Tower’), Castle Rising, Dover, Hedingham, Middleham, Newcastle upon Tyne, Norwich, Portchester, Rochester, Scarborough; (4) Twelve-sided keep: Orford in Suffolk; (5) Round keep: Conisborough, Pembroke and Windsor (but the so-called ‘Round Tower’ at Windsor was considerably raised in height during the 19th century).

Post-Conquest Romanesque may be seen in the following cathedrals:

Chichester, Durham, Ely, Exeter, Gloucester, Hereford, Norwich, Oxford, Peterborough, St Albans, Winchester; in Tewkesbury and Waltham Abbeys; and in parish churches at Adel (Yorkshire), Barfreston (Kent), Iffley (Oxfordshire), Kilpeck (Herefordshire), Melbourne (Derbyshire), St Peter (at Northampton), Stewkley (Buckinghamshire); also in the Chapel of St John in the Tower of London. In England, as elsewhere, round arches were invariably used throughout the Romanesque period.

For later English architecture, see English architecture and Gothic architecture: England.


Carisbrooke Castle


changing castles

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