Looking at Buildings

Building Types

The 19th Century Church

The New Churches Act of 1818, which provided government funding for new churches, especially for the growing industrial towns, began a new wave of Anglican church building. Churches built after the 1818 Act were in either classicalGlossary Term or GothicGlossary Term style (the latter being found to be cheaper).

From the 1830s church building was accelerated by a religious revival, the Oxford movement led by J.H. Newman. John Keble and Edward Pusey which sought to revive the dignity of C17 'High Church' tradition and belief in the Anglican church as a divine institution. From 1839 it was complemented by the Cambridge Camden Society, which despite considerable hostility, successfully encouraged the revival of medieval church architecture and ritual. From the 1840s the GothicGlossary Term style became almost universal, at first it studiously imitated medieval precedent, led by the example of the architect A.W.N. Pugin. Later churches became more inventive as architects drew on a wide range of GothicGlossary Term traditions, both English and continental, to develop new designs for the needs of the 19th century.

Special attention was paid to the sacred character of chancelGlossary Term and sanctuaryGlossary Term, in reaction to 18th century practice; each was raised up steps, and the chancelGlossary Term made large enough to accommodate a choirGlossary Term. Separate chapels, especially a 'Lady ChapelGlossary Term' in medieval fashion, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, became popular from the later 19th century. In older buildings, enthusiasm for the GothicGlossary Term tradition led to much restoration and improvement, not always historically authentic. Chancels were rebuilt, galleries and later ceilings were removed and high box pews replaced by benches or chairs. Medieval-style carving, stained glass and wall painting were introduced. New vestries, an organ chamber, and provision for heating were other common additions.



The eastern part or end of a church, where the altar is placed; usually set apart for the clergy.


The part of a cathedral, monastic church or collegiate church where services are sung.


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.

Lady chapel

A chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary (Our Lady).


Used for the area around the main altar of a church.