Looking at Buildings

Styles & Traditions

Decorated Tracery

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Merton College, Oxford, Vestry window,

From the end of the 13th century, GeometricGlossary Term traceryGlossary Term, with its logical subdivisions, began to give way to more experimental and fanciful forms. Although traceryGlossary Term patterns were still derived from the geometry of circles, the circle itself was often omitted, and the upper part of the window head might be filled with trefoils, quatrefoils or daggerGlossary Term shapes.

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Stained Glass

The lively character of the DecoratedGlossary Term style is especially well shown by the fashion for flowing traceryGlossary Term, which was particularly favoured in the north of England during the 14th century.

Interactive - Reticulated tracery



In tracery, an elongated ogee-ended lozenge shape.


A distinctive phase of English Gothic which developed at the end of the 13th century and continued into the later 14th; sometimes abbreviated to Dec. Named from its elaborate window tracery, which abandoned the simple circular forms of Geometric in favour of more varied patterns based on segments of circles. Dec tracery makes much use of ogee or reversed curves, which were combined in the 14th century to produce reticulated and flowing tracery composed of trefoils, quatrefoils and dagger shapes. Similar inventiveness is seen in the patterns produced by the lierne and tierceron vaults of the period, in the three-dimensional handling of wall surfaces broken up by canopy work and sculpture and in imaginative spatial planning making use of diagonal axes.

Flowing tracery

Bar tracery with uninterrupted flowing curves, typical of the 14th century; also called curvilinear tracery.


English Gothic architecture c. 1240-1290. During this period the French invention of bar tracery allowed for larger windows subdivided by stone mullions and tracery, in place of the single lancets of the Early English style. Geometrical tracery is the earliest kind of this bar tracery, i.e. with patterns formed by intersecting moulded ribwork continuing upwards from the mullions, using simple forms, especially circles, chiefly foiled.

Reticulated tracery

A form of bar tracery used in the early 14th century, with net-like patterns of ogee- (double-curved) ended lozenges.


Openwork pattern of masonry or timber in an opening, especially the upper part of an opening; most common in Gothic architecture. Blind tracery is applied to a solid wall. Plate tracery, the earliest form, introduced c. 1200, has shapes cut through solid masonry. Bar tracery, introduced c. 1250, has patterns are formed by intersecting moulded ribwork continuing upwards from the mullions. Bar tracery types include: curvilinear tracery, with uninterrupted flowing curves, typical of the 14th century (also called flowing tracery); geometrical tracery, typical of c.1250-c.1310, which uses simple forms, especially circles, chiefly foiled; intersecting tracery, used c. 1300, formed by interlocking mullions each branching out in two curved bars of the same radius but different centres; loop tracery (Scots), used c. 1500-45, with large uncusped loop-like forms; panel tracery, with even upright divisions made by a horizontal transom or transoms; reticulated tracery, early 14th century, with net-like patterns of ogee- (double-curved) ended lozenges; Y-tracery, used c. 1300, which branches into a Y-shape.