Looking at Buildings

Styles & Traditions


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St John the Baptist, Adel, Yorkshire

Medieval ornament is often used to draw attention to the most important parts of a building, such as the entrances, the most sacred spaces of a church, or the most prestigious parts of a secular building. Following classicalGlossary Term traditions, the decoration follows the form of the architecture and is applied to features such as capitals, arches, stringGlossary Term courses and bosses. Although there were certain conventions, the individual craftsman had considerable freedom in interpreting detail, an aspect which had much appeal to the Arts and CraftsGlossary Term movement of the later 19rth century.


Arts and Crafts

Associated with the Arts and Crafts movement, an important offshoot of the later English Gothic Revival. Not so much a style as an approach to design, it sought truth to materials, high standards of craftsmanship, and an integration of decorative and fine arts, architecture included. Its representative figure is the writer and designer William Morris (1834-96).


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.


A sloping member holding the ends of the treads and risers of a staircase. A closed string has a continuous upper edge and covers the ends of the treads and risers. An open string is cut into the shape of the treads and risers.