Lancashire Churches

Glossary of architectural terms used

A

apse
a semi-circular extension, often of a chancel or transept

arcade

  • a series of arches
  • blind arcade – a series of arches fixed to a wall
  • a shopping street that is covered, usually with glass

architrave

  • the section of the classical entablature that rests on the capital
  • the moulding around a window or door

ashlar
square-cut stone blocks, often used as a smooth facing over brick or rubble


B

battlement
a parapet on a wall, alternating high and low

bay
a section of an elevation as divided by columns, windows, etc.

bellcote
a small structure to hold bells, roofed, but often with open sides

boss
an ornament placed at the intersection of roof timbers or ribs in a vault

box pew
a pew enclosed by tall sides, entered by a door

bracket
a piece of supporting stone

buttress
a stone, brick or wood structure projecting from a wall, designed to support it by counteracting lateral thrust


C

capital
the moulded head of a column, pier or pilaster

chamfer
the surface formed when a square angle is cut away obliquely

chancel
the eastern space in a church where the high altar is usually found

chancel arch
an arch at the west end of the chancel that leads from the nave or the crossing

chapel of ease
a chapel for those living a distance from the main church

chevron
a zig-zag ornament characteristic of Norman architecture

clerestory
also clearstory: the upper part of the nave wall of a church pierced by windows


D

drip-course
a moulded stone projection, designed to protect the wall below from water damage


E

embattled
having battlements


F

fielded panel
a wooden panel with a raised square or rectangular piece surrounded by moulding

finial
a decorative feature at the very top of a part of a building

foliate
decorated with foliage or leaves


G

gallery
in a church, an upper balcony with seating that overlooks the nave


H

hagioscope
an opening through the wall of a church in an oblique direction

hood mould
projecting stone moulding above a door, window etc. designed to protect it by throwing off water


I

impost
the moulding on which the end of an arch rests


J

jamb
the vertical edge of an opening


K

keystone
the central, locking stone in an arch made of voussoirs (q.v.)


L

lancet window
a tall, pointed window with no tracery

lights
the major sub-divisions of the glazed area of a window

long and short work
quoins, usually of the Saxon period, with the stones placed with the long side alternately upright then horizontal


M

mouchette
a curved version of the dagger motif in tracery

mullion
one of the vertical posts that divides a window into “lights”


N

nave
the western part of the body of a church, often flanked by aisles

niche
a tall recess in a wall or buttress, often containing, or intended for, a statue


O

obelisk
a tall, four-sided tapering column with a pyramid top

ogee
a continuous double curve; an elongated “S” shape


P

pediment
a gable shape in classical architecture, often triangular, though sometimes with a curved top or “broken” on one edge

pier
a support whose section is often round, square or octagonal

pilaster
a rectangular column or pillar strip projecting in relief from a wall

pinnacle
a finial, usually tapering, often placed on the upper corners of towers, or on the tops of buttresses

piscina
a bowl or basin with a drain usually set into the wall near the high altar, used for washing the communion or mass vessels

pulpit
a raised, enclosed plateform used for preaching


Q

quatrefoil
a 4-lobed shape formed by cusping in tracery

quoins
blocks, usually of stone, up the corner of a building, often in an alternating pattern, and frequently rusticated


R

rusticated
masonry cut to appear strong, often by having deeply cut joints or a deliberately roughened stone finish


S

sedilia
seats built into the south side of the chancel, usually 3, often graded by height and decoration, for the priests

splay
an opening wider on one face of the wall than another, often inside to allow more light to enter

squint
a hole cut through stonework to allow a view of the high altar from a location that could otherwise not see it: also called a hagioscope

string course
a horizontal band of moulding projecting from a wall


T

tester
a horizontal sounding board or canopy above the pulpit, designed to deflect the priest’s voice out to the congregation

tracery
the pattern made by stonework in the top part of a window: such pattern in wood, or on the surface of a wall, etc.

transept
an extension of a church at right angles to the nave

trefoil
literally “3 leaves”: a three lobed shape formed by cusps (q.v.)

Tuscan order
a version of the Doric order with unfluted column and plain frieze


V

voussoirs
the wedge-shaped stones that form the curve of an arch