ABACUS: a flat top of a capital (qv) or respond (qv). Also found on its own.
ALTAR RAIL: a rail placed in front of the altar, both to protect the altar area (sanctuary) and for the congregation to kneel at to receive Communion.
AMBULATORY: lower aisle on the outer side of an apse (qv).
ANCHORlTE: a hermit devoted to a life of contemplation and prayer, who lives attached to a church and not in a monastery or convent.
APSE: a semicircular or polygonal ending of a chancel or chapel.
ARCADE: a row of arches on columns.
– DEPRESSED HEADED: flattened pointed arch.
– ELLIPTICAL: arch with a head that is elliptical.
– FOUR-CENTRED: head drawn with the compasses in four different places.
– SEGMENTAL: head formed from a single segment of a circle.
– STEPPED: arch consisting in section of two plain steps.
– STILTED: arch with straight pieces above the abaci (qv) before the head-curves inwards.
ASHLAR: accurately squared stones, laid regularly.
AUMBRY: a recess near an altar which originally had a door and was used for keeping relics and the mass vessels.
AXIAL TOWER: a tower placed in a line between nave and chancel,carried on two and sometimes four arches.
BALUSTER: vertical part of a rail.
BANLIEU: area around an abbey under its temporal jurisdiction.
BARB: form of double cusping (qv), found in C14 tracery.
BARGEBOARD: boards placed on gables to hide the rafters. Often carved.
BAY: division, eg of arcade (qv).
BEAKHEAD: C12 moulding: a row of fantastic animal- or bird-heads with long beaks.
BILLETWORK: C11 and C12 moulding consisting of two rows of alternating raised squares.
BLACKLETTER: usually C16 or C17 form of lettering derived from the Gothic script.
BOSS: projection, often carved, at intersection of vaulting ribs (qv).
BRACE: part of a roof – a stiffening strut.BRACE – ARCH: curved braces in pairs under a beam, forming an arch.
– ANGLE: two buttresses meeting at right-angles at a corner.
– CLASPING: single buttress that envelops a corner.
– DIAGONAL: single buttress at a corner.
– FLYING: a buttress shaped like a half-arch, usually to counter the outward thrust of a vault.-CAPITAL: top part of a column, usually carved or moulded:-
– ACANTHUS: capital covered with stylised acanthus leaves, derived from ancient Greek and Roman
designs, particularly the Corinthian capital.
– BELL: centre part of a capital, especially when it is not carved.
– CUSHION: cube, the lower parts of which are rounded off to fit on a round column.
– SCALLOP: capital made up of cones cut short, giving a scalloped pattern (C11 and C12).
– STIFF LEAF: C12-C13 stylised leaf capital.
– WATERLEAF: single broad leaf with a curving top on each side of a square capital (late C12).
CARTOUCHE: panel with scrollwork round the edge, usually for an inscription or coat-of-arms.
CASTELLATED: miniature battlements.
CELL: constituent part of a church, eg nave or chancel.
CHAMFER: angle which is cut away diagonally.
– HOLLOW: angle which is cut away in a concave section.
CHEQUERWORK: squares of contrasting material, eg flint and stone.
CHEVRON: C12 moulding made up of a row of inverted Vs (also known as zigzag).
CINQUEFOIL: head of a window or a circle with five lobes.
CLERESTORY: storey above an arcade, containing windows.
CLUNCH: a hard form of chalk that can be carved but is usually too soft for use outside.
COADE STONE: late C18 and early Cl9 artificial stone, invented by Mrs Coade. Its precise composition has only recently been re-discovered.
COFFERED: a sunk square ornamental panels, on a ceiling.
COLLAR: beam linking two rafters of a roof part way up.
CORBEL: block of stone, sometimes carved or moulded, projecting from a wall, e g to carry an image.
CORBEL TABLE: a row of corbels (qv) to support a roof.
CORNICE: horizontal feature at the top of a wall.
COSMATI WORK: form of decoration using coloured mosaics and marbles, laid in geometrical patterns.
COVED: concave, e g a roof.
CRANKED: beam etc in two parts that are angled upwards to meet at the centre.
CREDENCE: shelf to one side of the altar on which the mass vessels were placed before the Consecration.
CRENELLATED: see Castellated.
CRESTING: ornamental top of a screen or tomb.
CROCKET: decorative feature shaped like a stylised leaf or flame, placed on pinnacles, gables etc.
CROSSING: the intersection of nave, chancel and transepts, often with a tower above.
CROWNPOST: see under Roof.
CRUCIFORM: in the form of a cross.
CUSPING: point between two lobes (qv).
DIAPERWORK: surface decoration of carved squares or lozenges.
DOGTOOTH: early C13 moulding consisting of four-pointed stars rising to a point in the centre.
DORMER: vertical window in a sloping roof with its own roof and sides.
DORTER: monastic dormitory.
DRESSING: blocks of stone at the angles of a rubble or brick-built structure or around doorways and windows.
DUTCH GABLE: gable with curved sides and a small pediment (qv) on top.
EASTER SEPULCHRE: a recess, usually a tomb, on the north side of the chancel, used during the re-enactment of Christ’s Crucifixion and Resurrection at Easter.
EMBATTLED: see Castellated.
ENTABLATURE: The whole horizontal area above the columns of a classical colonnade.
FEATHERING: cusping (especially of wood) (archaic).
FILLET: narrow flat strip on a shaft or a moulding.
FINIAL: top of a gable, pinnacle etc.
FLéCHE: slender spire of wood, usually at a crossing(qv).
FLOREATED: bands of stylised floral ornament.
FLUTED: vertical concave grooves on a column or corbel.
FOLIATED: carved with leaves.
FONT: usually of stone and containing water for baptisms. It is usually placed near the main entrance.
FOOTING: base of a wall.
FRIEZE: space below the cornice (qv) on a wall.
GABLET: small gable, especially above niches, piscinae (qv) etc.
GALLETTED: small stones or splinters of flint placed as decoration in the mortar of a wall.
GARGOYLE: water-spout projecting from a parapet and carved, usually with a grotesque face.
GARRETTED: see Galletted.
GESSO: plaster or decoration carried out in plaster.
GREEK CROSS: A cross where all four arms are the same length.
GREEK KEY: classical moulding made up of straight lines, proceeding in a series of right-angles.
GRISAILLE: glass using very little colour (literally ‘greyish’). Usually patterned.
GROIN: line marking the intersection of two vaults.
HAMMERBEAM: see Roof.
HASP: clasp fitting over staple and fixed by pin or padlock.
HERRINGBONE: rows of thin stones laid diagonally in alternate directions to make a zigzag pattern.
HOODMOULD: moulding above an arch or window, originally to divert water but used ornamentally inside.
HORSHAM SLABS: thin roofing slabs of sandstone, mostly coming from the Horsham area, hence the name.
HYPOCAUST: Roman underfloor heating system.
JAMB: straight side of an arch or window.
KEELED: on a shaft or moulding, one side of which in section comes to a point like the keel of a boat.
KINGPOST: see Roof.
KNAPPED: split (used of flints).
LABEL: see Hoodmould.
LANCET: narrow window, usually pointed (late C12 or C13).
LANCETS – TRIPLET: grouping of three lancets, divided by shafts or mullions.
LANTERN: open tower or turret with windows, usually in the middle of a roof or over a crossing (qv).
LECTERN: stand, usually sloping, from which the Bible is read during services. They can be of wood, stone or metal and are sometimes shaped like an eagle.
LEDGER STONE: flat tombstone placed in the floor of a church, commonest in the C17 to C19. They are often of dark marble and bear only an inscription and possibly a coat of arms.
LIGHT: vertical division of a window.
LINENFOLD: C16 panelling carved to represent stylised folded linen.
LINTEL: horizontal stone across the top of a doorway.
LOBE: concave curved section between two cusps (qv).
LONG AND SHORT WORK: quoins (qv) consisting of vertically and horizontally placed stones to strengthen the angle. Most are C11, both pre- and post-Conquest.
LOUVRE: opening with inclined slats, eg to allow the sound of bells to emerge.
LOZENGE: diamond-shaped figure.
LUCARNE: small opening especially in a spire, to ventilate the interior. Often with a gable over.
MANDORLA: almond-shaped panel.
MANSARD ROOF: two-stage roof with a steep lower slope and a shorter less steep upper one.
MASS DIAL: a simple sundial, placed on the south side of the church, usually near the doorway used by the priest, to indicate the times of mass.
METOPE: space between triglyphs (qv).
MISERICORD: small bracket on choir stalls, used for leaning upon during long services and often carved underneath.
MOUCHETTE: curved motif in early C14 tracery, coming to a point at the base.
MOULDING: continuous band, often carved or ornamented. See Beakhead, Billet, Castellated, Chevron, Dogtooth, Fillet, Keeled, Nailhead, Roll, Wave.
MULLION: vertical stone or wooden division of a window.
NAILHEAD: C12 and C13 moulding consisting of small pyramid-shaped projections.
NARTHEX: vestibule or covered porch, usually at the west end.
NICHE: recess in a wall, usually for a statue.
NOOK-SHAFT: shaft set in an angle on the jamb (qv) of a doorway, arch etc.
OGEE: double curving form of arch.
1.(of an arch): series of concentric steps round an arch or doorway. May be chamfered, moulded etc. (qv).
2.(classical): Four different forms of capital (Doric, Ionic, Corinthian and Tuscan).
OUTLYER: A detached section of a parish, sometimes at some distance, which often separated from its parent at a later date.
PALIMPSEST: evidence of earlier or re-used work, most commonly found with paintings which are on top of earlier ones or brasses on the backs of older ones.
PALMETTES: stylised foliage, carved like palm fronds.
PARCLOSE: screen placed round a chapel.
PEDIMENT: low pitched gable-ending, usually triangular.
PENDANT: ornamental terminal or boss, lengthened to hang downwards.
PEW: bench-like seating with backs.
PICKLING: The removal of figures in stained glass windows from their backgrounds, to be reset in plain glass. It was popular in the mid-C20 in the belief that it improved Victorian glass.
PIER: freestanding support of an arch.
PILASTER: shallow pier attached to a wall.
PILASTER STRIP: narrow pilaster (qv) usually C11.
PINNACLE: a tall narrow cone or pyramid on top of a tower or balustrade.
PISCINA (plural PISCINAE): A recess near an altar with a drain, used for washing the priest’s hands and the mass vessels. Some have a shelf on which to place things.
PLINTH: square or moulded base of wall or pier.
POPPYHEAD: ornament, usually of stylised leaves, on the top of a bench-end.
PORTICUS: a small transept-like projection, usually lower than the nave to which it is attached and set some way from the east end of the nave.Ê Most are pre-Conquest or date from soon after.
PULPIT: an elevated platform with a surround, used for preaching. Some have a flat canopy (sounding board) to project the sound better.
PUTLOG HOLE: hole in a wall into which scaffolding poles were fitted. These were not always filled in after work was completed.
PUTTO: small cherubs, winged and naked.
PYX: small box, usually of metal into which consecrated bread or wafers for the mass were placed.
QUARRY: diamond-shaped piece of glass.
QUATREFOIL: four-lobed opening, often contained in a circle.
QUOINS: angle-stones of a building, usually dressed.
RAGSTONE: rough, brittle limestone, found especially in Kent.
REBATE: narrow notch cut round the edge of a doorway or window to accommodate a door or shutter.
RENDERING: plaster or cement covering of a wall.
RERE-ARCH: opening on the inner side of a doorway or window, usually larger.
RESPOND: end of an arch or arcade, in the form of a half-pier, shaft or corbel.
RIB: see under Vault.
ROLL-MOULDING: moulding of semi-circular section.
ROOD: on a beam across the entrance to the chancel (within the chancel arch if there was one) were placed a Crucifix and its attendant figures. It was approached from a narrow gallery placed on top of the screen (qv), the rood screen.
– CROWNPOST: roof with a horizontal tiebeam bearing a vertical post (crownpost) in the centre that
rises to the collar (qv).
– HAMMERBEAM: horizontal wooden projection from a wall, braced underneath and bearing the upper part
of the roof, usually with a strut.
– HIPPED: roof with a sloping end, not a gable.
– KINGPOST: roof with a horizontal tiebeam bearing a vertical post (kingpost) in the centre that
rises to the apex.
– QUEENPOST: roof with a horizontal tiebeam bearing two struts, rising to the outer ends of the
– SCISSOR-TRUSS: roof with diagonally placed beams that cross, like scissors.
– SINGLE-FRAMED: roof without any longitudinal stiffening.
– TIEBEAM: roof tied at the base by a horizontal beam that prevents the walls spreading. More complex
versions support king-, crown- or queenposts.
– TRUSSED-RAFTER: roof composed of triangular wooden assemblies of rafters.
– WAGON: roof with closely set rafters and arch-braces. The effect, especially if plastered or
panelled, is like the inside of a wagon.
RUBBLE: walling composed of rough stones that have not been dressed.
RUSTICATION: stones with the joints emphasised to give an impression of strength, especially quoins (qv).
SADDLEBACK: spire shaped like a roof with two gables,
SCOINSON: an inner arch placed within the top of a rere-arch (qv), since otherwise the rere-arch would be very tall if it was concentric with the window.
SCREEN: a wooden structure, with the upper part open, which was placed at the entrance to the chancel, usually with the rood (qv) and loft on top of it.
SEDILE (plural SEDILIA): seat(s), up to three in number on the south side of the sanctuary for the priest, deacon and clerk taking the service. Some are adapted from a window-sill, others are in a recess.
SEXFOIL: six-lobed opening usually contained in a circle.
SHAFT: narrow round or octagonal vertical column.
SHINGLE: wooden roof covering, about the size of a tile, used particularly for spires. Traditionally oak was used but sometimes cedar is found.
SHOULDERED HEAD: square head of a doorway or window on curved brackets.
SOFFIT: underside of an arch.
SPANDREL: triangular space between two arches or in the angles of a single arch.
SPHERICAL TRIANGLE: triangle of which the sides curve outwards.
BROACH: octagonal spire rising from a pyramid. The resulting triangular corner pieces are called broaches.
PYRAMID: spire in the form of a pyramid.
SPLAY: slanting sides of a doorway or window, especially of a rere-arch (qv).
SPRINGING: point where the head of an arch starts from the respond or pier.
SPUR, BASE: pointed ornament carved in the angles on the top of a square base under a round pier.
SQUINCH: arch across the angle between two walls to bear a weight above.
SQUINT: an opening in the wall, allowing a priest at a subsidiary altar to observe one at the high altar, so that the mass could be synchronised.
STOP – HEAD, CURLING, TREFOIL: carved feature at the end of a hoodmould, chamfer etc.
STRAPWORK: C16 and C17 decoration of flat interlacing bands.
STRING-COURSE: horizontal band on a wall.
STRIP-PILASTER: see Pilaster, strip.
STRIP-WORK: thin strips applied to outline of an arch or on abaci etc (pre-Conquest).
SUPER-ARCH: arch built into the wall above a doorway or window, especially square-headed ones, to relieve the weight of masonry.
TESTER: horizontal canopy, usually above pulpits and said to improve the projection of the sound.
TIEBEAM: see under Roof.
THROUGH-STONE: single voussoir (qv) of an arch, extending the full breadth of the soffit.
TOOLING: smoothing or finishing of a stone, using a chisel,
TRACERY: intersecting bars or panelling at the top of Gothic windows. The main types are as follows:-
– BAR: development of plate tracery (qv) with thinner mullions and head (second half of C13)
– CURVILINEAR: tracery made of complex curving designs (c1330-70).
– FLAMBOYANT: extreme form of curvilinear tracery, mainly found on the Continent, where it lasted into
the C16. There are some C16 English examples.
– GEOMETRICAL: tracery consisting mainly of circles, with or without cusping (c 1270-1300).
– INTERSECTING: mullions branch out and intersect at the head, i e three or more lights (c1300).
– LEAF: variant of curvilinear looking like leaves (mid-CI4).
– OGEE-QUATREFOIL: as reticulated (qv) but only two lights, so only one complete quatrefoil in the
– PANELLED: head divided into panels, generally cusped, by vertical pieces (c1370-1550).
– PLATE: earliest form of tracery with simple forms (eg a quatrefoil) cut in the solid head of a multi-
light window (mid-C13).
– RETICULATED: head consists of interlocking cusped circles elongated at the top and bottom into ogees,
reminiscent of a net (early C14).
– Y: two-light window, the mullion of which branches like a Y (c1300).
TRANSOM: horizontal bar across a window.
TREFOIL: three-lobed opening, usually a circle.
TRIGLYPH: block with vertical grooves on a classical frieze (see also Metope).
TRIPLET: see Lancets, triplet.
TURNED: ornament in bands applied to a wooden or stone shaft by turning it on a lathe.
TYMPANUM: in-filling of the upper part of an arch, usually above a lintel.
VAULT: stone roof covering of various types, including:-
– BARREL: heavy continuous vault, usually semi-circular in section.
– FAN: late mediaeval form with conical clusters of equal sized ribs, disguised by stone panelling
– QUADRIPARTITE: each bay of the vault is divided into four parts by groins or ribs.
– RIB: rib-vaults have stone arches (usually moulded) along the groins and between the bays,
supporting the thin web of stone of which the rest of the vault is made. In later vaults there are
also ribs running along the ridges of the vault (i e ridge-ribs).
VENETIAN WINDOW: round-headed window flanked by two narrower square-headed ones (C17-C18).
VOLUTE: spiral device on the corner of a capital.
VOUSSOIR: wedge-shaped stone, component of an arch.
WALLPLATE: roof-timber laid along the top of a wall.
WALLPOST: vertical roof-timber placed against the upper part of a wall at the base of the structure and usually with a brace abutting onto it.
WATER-HOLDING: C13 base of a pier with a deep circular moulding capable of containing water in the valley inside it.
WAVE-MOULDING: moulding; (especially C14) with an undulating cross-section.
ZIGZAG: see Chevron.
ABACUS: a flat top of a capital (qv) or respond (qv). Also found on its own.