Looking at Buildings

, printed from the Looking at Buildings website on Thursday 30th June 2022

Crossings, Towers and Spires

crossingGlossary Term [1], the meeting point of the four arms of a great church, called for great skill on the part of the designer. This was an important part of the church, providing lightGlossary Term [2] and space above the choirGlossary Term [3] stalls, which in the RomanesqueGlossary Term [4] period often extended to the eastern bays of the naveGlossary Term [5], as at Norwich Cathedral [6]. Here, unusually, the 12th century tower remains as an open lanternGlossary Term [7] above the crossingGlossary Term [8]. The tower is carried on four arches, and the crossingGlossary Term [9] piers at the four corners had to be strong enough to carry its weight. It was not uncommon for crossingGlossary Term [10] towers to collapse, and there were additional problems when it was decided to heighten the tower to accord with the ambitions of 13th and 14th century builders. The crossingGlossary Term [11] tower of Norwich was given an impressive stone spireGlossary Term [12] in the 14th century.

spireGlossary Term [13] 180 ft tall, to reach a total height of c. 400ft, an amazing feat of daring. The thin stone masonry of the spireGlossary Term [14], 2ft thick at its baseGlossary Term [15], reduces to 8 inches at the top. Its hidden support is an elaborate internal timber framework further strengthened by iron ties.

Last updated: Monday, 26th January 2009