The exterior

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London, St Martin Ludgate, exterior

The highly varied exteriors of the City churches owed much to their constricted sites. Few were completely free-standing. Many church walls backed onto houses or private courtyards, or narrow alleys where architectural display would have been inappropriate. St Martin is now sandwiched between houses, with no side elevations at all; the back wall is plain brick, facing a private garden; the west wall was originally exposed too. The main front is composed symmetrically, with giant windows lighting the entrance lobby. Big curly scrolls (called volutesGlossary Term) make a visual link to the tower, and help the transition to the elaborate spireGlossary Term of lead. This was designed and built as part of the whole, but at other City Churches decades passed before money was allotted to add a spireGlossary Term above the tower parapetGlossary Term.

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London, St Martin Ludgate, exterior, lower part

Decoration of the lower parts is concentrated on the openings. The vocabulary is fully classicalGlossary Term, though a full orderGlossary Term - that is, columns or pilasters - is absent. Even so, the front would originally have seemed dignified by comparison with the plain houses alongside, without appearing to compete with the magnificent west front of St Paul's Cathedral, at the top of the hill to the right.

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A term used for the architecture of Ancient Greece and Rome, revived at the Renaissance and subsequently imitated around the Western world. It uses a range of conventional forms, the roots of which are the orders, or types of column each with its fixed proportions and ornaments (especially Doric, Ionic and Corinthian). Classical buildings tend also to be symmetrical, both externally and on plan. Classical architecture in England began c. 1530 with applied ornamental motifs, followed within a few decades by fully-fledged new buildings.


One of a series of recessed arches and jambs forming a splayed medieval opening, e.g. a doorway or arcade arch. Also, an upright structural member used in series, especially in classical architecture: see Orders.


Wall for protection at any sudden drop, e.g. on a bridge, or at the wall-head of a castle where it protects the parapet walk or wall-walk. Also used to conceal a roof.


Tall pyramidal or conical feature crowning a tower or turret. Broach: starting from a square base, then carried into an octagonal section by means of triangular faces. Splayed-foot: variation of the broach form, found in England principally in the south-east, in which the four cardinal faces are splayed out near their bases, to cover the corners, while oblique (or intermediate) faces taper away to a point. Needle spire: thin spire rising from the centre of a tower roof, well inside the parapet.


Spiral scrolls. They occur on Ionic capitals. Angle volute: a pair of volutes, turned outwards to meet at the corner of a capital.