Looking at Buildings

, printed from the Looking at Buildings website on Sunday 19th September 2021

Hammerbeam Roofs


The hammerbeam was developed to overcome the problem of spanning wide spaces by cantilevering the upper roof timbers from a beam projecting from the wall.

The late 14th-century roof of Westminster Hall is the most famous example, with hammerbeamsGlossary Term [1] nearly 21 ft long introduced in place of the arcades which had previously divided the 11th-century hall, so that the building is roofed from wall to wall without intermediate supports. The hammerbeamsGlossary Term [2] were often decoratedGlossary Term [3].

Wymondham Abbey, Norfolk

Elaborately carved hammerbeam roofs, sometimes in two tiers, became features of some of the grandest late medieval churches of East Anglia.

Last updated: Monday, 26th January 2009