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, printed from the Looking at Buildings website on Saturday 20th August 2022

Gothic Windows and Tracery

Early EnglishGlossary Term [1], DecoratedGlossary Term [2] and PerpendicularGlossary Term [3] were first used by Thomas Rickman, in his Attempt to Discriminate the Style of Architecture in England, first published 1812-15.  Choose from the options below to learn more about the different phases of traceryGlossary Term [4].

Early English Tracery [5]
Geometric Tracery [6]
Decorated Tracery [7]
Perpendicular Tracery [8]
lancetGlossary Term [9] windows of the Early English [10] period of GothicGlossary Term [11] gave way by the mid 13th century to the traceryGlossary Term [12] window. GothicGlossary Term [13] traceryGlossary Term [14] is based on the geometry of circles, as is clearly visible in the earliest examples where the heads of the windows are filled by one or more roundels. The lower part of the window opening was divided up into several 'lights' by vertical mullions of coursed masonry, the roundels are composed of curved 'bars' of masonry, often with petal-like cusping around the inside of the circle.

This invention of 'bar traceryGlossary Term [15]' began in France in the earlier 13th century, and was rapidly adopted in England from the 1240s, the rebuilt choirGlossary Term [16] of Westminster Abbey providing a prestigious example of the Geometric [17] style.

From the late 13th century and through the 14th century the geometry became more complicated and subtle; the complex patterns of the Decorated [18] style were created by combining parts of circles to form exuberant flowing or net-like designs.

During the 14th century an alternative approach developed, in which the traceryGlossary Term [19] was reduced to a grid of horizontals and verticals, hence its name Perpendicular [20], whose rectangular compartments were convenient frames for images. The change took places only gradually, many 'DecoratedGlossary Term [21]' forms continuing in use in the 15th century."

Interactive - The Phases of Gothic Tracery

Last updated: Saturday, 25th April 2009