Gothic Architecture Features

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LICHFIELD CATHEDRAL is the only medieval English cathedral with 2 spires.


The Mappa Mundi is a 15th-century map of the world.


SALISBURY CATHEDRAL contains the world's oldest working clock.


WELLS CATHEDRAL's west front has the finest collection of sculptures in Europe.


WINCHESTER CATHEDRAL is the second largest Gothic cathedral in Europe.


Study Notes

Features of Gothic Architecture

  • Plans are arranged for convenience rather than for symmetry
  • Walls are made of rubble masonry, not laid in horizontal courses, with small pieces of material
  • Walls are no longer load-bearing, which contributed to the use of stained glass


  • Doors and windows are recessed and spanned by pointed arches
  • Gothic architecture is sometimes called the architecture of light
  • Windows are enormous in size for stained glass display
  • Windows are divided by vertical mullions and horizontal transoms
  • Bar Tracery: composed of thin stone elements, giving a delicate, web-like effect


  • Towers are crowned with spires, accentuating the verticality of the design
  • Gothic vaults are a beautiful feature
  • Rose windows are a characteristic feature


  • Columns were used structurally, but classical proportions were not observed


  • Characteristics of Gothic ornaments include sturdy craftsmanship and bold execution
  • Forms of ornaments include mediaeval mysticism, Christian subjects, and statues
  • Motifs of ornaments include stained glass, grotesques, chimera or grotesque figures, and gargoyles

Gothic Architecture in France

  • The Gothic style is also called "L'architecture Ogivale" from the word ogive, referring to a pointed arch
  • Architectural features include the vaulting framework of intersecting pointed arch ribs (ogival system) and a chevet (apse with chapels)
  • Lady Chapel is a chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary
  • Chantry chapel is for religious services for the donor's directions
  • Fleche is a slender spire rising from a roof

Amiens Cathedral

  • Slightly projecting transepts and a sweeping chevet of 7 chapels
  • Inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1981

Periods of French Gothic

  • 3 periods based on the evolution of window tracery:
    • Primarie Pd. (12th century): characterized by pointed arches and geometric tracery
    • Secondaire Pd. (13th century): characterized by circular windows with wheel tracery
    • Decorated Gothic (1275-1375): characterized by fanciful window tracery

English Gothic

  • 4 periods based on the evolution of window tracery:
    • Early English (12th century)
    • Decorated (13th century)
    • Perpendicular (14th-16th century)
    • Tudor (15th-16th century)


  • Evolution of English Gothic vaulting:
    • Early English vaulting: quadripartite ribbed vault with wall ribs and formerets
    • Decorated vaulting: addition of lierne ribs producing a star-shaped pattern
    • Perpendicular vaulting: intricate stellar vaulting led to fan or conoidal vaulting
    • Tudor vaulting: use of four-centered arch and fan vaulting

Timber Church Roofs

  • 5 types of roofs:
    • Trussed-rafter roof
    • Collar-braced roof with hammer-beam form
    • Aisle roof (simplified)
    • Barrel roof
    • Tie-beam roof

This quiz covers the key features of Gothic Architecture, including plans, walls, and openings. Learn about the characteristics that define this style of architecture.

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