Looking at Buildings

Building Types


New Churches of the 17th and 18th Centuries

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St Martin-in-the-Fields

From the 17th century, new or rebuilt churches were built in the current classicalGlossary Term style, although there were also examples of continuing loyalty to GothicGlossary Term traditions. New architectural ideas were spread through the examples of the City of London churches rebuilt after the Great Fire of 1666 and those that followed in the expanding London suburbs.

Reflecting liturgical practices of the time, new churches were designed with shallow sanctuaries instead of chancels, and with naves planned as preaching spaces, with plentiful seating, often with galleries on three sides. Apart from monuments, sculpture was confined to architectural detail, although in the 18th century paintings of religious subjects became acceptable as altarpieces. Where there was little space for churchyards, burial crypts were sometimes provided below. Towers remained popular, reflecting the continuing significance of the church as the centre of the community, as well as enthusiasm for bellringing, and the ancillary rooms often included a vestry room for the transaction of parish business.



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.


The style of the Middle Ages from the later 12th century to the Renaissance, with which it co-existed in certain forms into the 17th century. Characterized in its full development by the pointed arch, the rib-vault and an often skeletal masonry structure for churches, combined with large glazed windows. The term was originally associated with the concept of the barbarian Goths as assailants of classical civilization.