Norman architecture

The Norman style is a classic of English architectural history, the local version of the European Romanesque architecture.

The Norman architecture replaces the pre-Roman Anglo-Saxon architecture in the historical development of English architectural styles and is followed by the first stage of Gothic architecture in England, the Early English.


In England itself, this period is called Norman Architecture. In Germany, several names are familiar: the Norman style, Anglo -Norman style, or - in allusion to the English term - Norman style. The following periods are named in English German: Early English, Decorated Style, Perpendicular style. The name, Norman Style ' is also makes sense in order to separate the English development of the other pan-European tendencies of Norman architecture ', which extends to Sicily.

The name of this era comes from - as well as those of others - by Thomas Rickman, who introduced it in his 1817 ( or 1812-15 ) published work on Attempt to Discriminate the Styles of English Architecture from the Conquest to the Reformation. He is responsible for the currently effective subdivision of English architecture in " Norman, Early English, Decorated, and Perpendicular ".

Historical development

The Norman architecture in England begins shortly before the conquest of the country by William the Conqueror ( 1066-87 ) in the year 1066. He brought from Normandy to England the local construction, which means there Romanesque. Norman influences there were already before the conquest, beginning about 1050-65 in the new construction of Westminster Abbey by Edward the Confessor ( Saxon -Norman mixing style). He knew this style already, because he had lived a long time as a refugee in Normandy.

The great Romanesque churches of Jumièges (1037-1067), the Abbey Church at Mont -Saint -Michel ( 1024-84 ) and Sainte Trinité and Saint -Etienne in Caen ( begun in 1062 and 1064 ) show similar shapes as a little later in conquered England occurred ( Encyclopedia of world Architecture, p 218).

With the conquest of England by the Normans in 1066, the society, the Church, and thus the architecture was Norman Siert. The Norman claim to power first became apparent in castles and forts, and later at Abbey and cathedral churches. Almost all the important churches were built. The whole country was filled with Norman construction. Monasteries, abbeys, churches and cathedrals, castles, together with donjon ( keep) were rebuilt or founded in the first place.


The previously existing Anglo-Saxon Saalbauten had with the mighty churches of the Norman tradition little in common. For the large new buildings, the additive arrangement of the parts of space is significant. The parts are of equal value associated with each other. A ' whole space ' is not sought.

In the ornamentation of the Norman zigzag band has become legendary, along with battlements, chain and roller pattern - ie mainly geometric shapes.

Of crucial importance for the vault was the cathedral of Durham, the first major church introduced a ribbed vaulting in the nave to 1104, so wrought upon Caen and St- Etienne in Beauvais and the dome shape allowed the triumphal procession through Europe.

The longhouses of the Norman churches are strikingly elongated: St. Albans has 10 bays, Winchester 11, 13 Ely and Norwich 14 The transepts and choirs are also elongated. In Normandy, there were a maximum of two choir bays, later in Gloucester, Chichester and Lincoln three, in St. Albans, Ely and Norwich four.

At the Norman tradition initially belonged to the Season Choir ( Westminster, Canterbury, Old Sarum, St. Albans, Rochester, Ely, Durham, Christchurch and Lincoln ) and the ambulatory with radiating chapels ( Battle Abbey, Canterbury II, Winchester, Gloucester, Tewkesbury, Chichester and Norwich). After the turn of the century, the picture changed under the influence of Reform Order and the rectangular choir was preferred ( Southwell, Old Sarum II, Hereford, Romsey ). At this range forming the eastern parts included the development of spacious hall crypts ( Canterbury, Winchester, Gloucester, Worcester, Rochester ).

The traditional Norman restraint system is changed to the west and the north of England and the round pillar is the norm (Gloucester, Tewkesbury, Worksop, Dunfermline ).

Wall elevation

Until the late 11th century, held the clear structure of the Norman tradition and only in the course of the 12th century, deviation tendencies and shapes became noticeable.

St. Albans

In the beginning is the abbey church of St. Albans ( the elevations of Lanfranc 's church of Canterbury, William Battle Abbey and Old Sarum are no longer detectable ). Characteristic of St. Albans are the faces and massiveness of the wall, the simplicity in design and the limitation in the form. From the original nave are six bays of the north wall preserved. The supports zone designated by the ranking abgetreppter, wall -like pillars and deep stepped Archivolts. In addition to round-arched openings with wide narrowing to jamb on the side roofs. In the clerestory are mullioned window with masonry walkway. Flat, rectangular templates mark the Jochfolge, narrow cranked Schmieg narrow ledges bullets. In the transept and crossing tower located in the open double arcades have received. Everything that makes the connection to Norman models first recognize difficult.


As a derivation of the Festlandsachitektur the transept of Winchester proves with his strict, clearly structured wall system. The horseshoe-shaped, provided with joist cutting sheets stand on pillars with a cross and presented half-columns. In deep are stepped, two-piece Empor arcades and clerestory an alternating columns walkway in front of the windows. The yokes are broken down by half-round services on rectangular templates.


In the transept of Ely (1081-1099) supports the change is recorded for the first time. On the ground floor circular columns are drawn together by two cross piers with half-columns templates to " double arcades ". This arrangement is slightly varied continuously in the Empor zone. The window running gear is further broken up as in Winchester.


The alternation of supports 1093 trained in the abbey church of Durham in a concise manner, in the alternation of massive, surrounded with templates cross pillars and massive profiled circular columns. This creates a big, slow rhythm of double yokes, bounded by far protruding service bundles. The height trend occurring here is in the tradition of Bernay, and La Trinité in Caen Jumièges. At the same time shrinking the galleries and clerestory zone to a considerable extent.

The services rely on heavy, profiled Gurtrippen which integrate the seven- ribbed vault. The center caps store in the nave on consoles, while they put in the choir on columns bundles. Rich decorations of plastic limbs facilitate the Wall severity. The bow legs are up in the ribs topped with Zickzackwülsten, decorated the cylinder piers with fluting, lozenges and zigzag patterns.


Traditionally, the English churches of the 11th century were flat funded or provided with an open roof. Vestibules, aisles (St. Albans, Blyth, Gloucester, Ely, Norwich, etc.), crypts ( Canterbury, Rochester, Winchester, Gloucester and Worcester ), rarely transepts ( Winchester and Ely ) were kreuzgratgewölbt. With the construction of Durham the turn occurs. 1096 the choir aisles, 1104, the choir, the transept and 1110 to 1130, the nave with cross-ribbed vaults are equipped. The teeth of the arch segments Wandkompartimente with a unit is provided which makes it possible to apply the term " yoke " in its strict sense.

But the cross -ribbed vault was located in the Anglo-Norman space not prevail and was only now and then in aisles, occasionally also used in the transept ( aisles of Southwell and Romsey, transept - aisles in Winchester after 1107 choir aisle of Peterborough 1118 ).


The alternation of supports also takes over the eastern portions of the nave of Norwich (1096-1119; fifth bay in the west of the crossing ) to decline to 'normal' proportions. To the west, he continues in a modified form continued ( clustered columns - actually cross pillar with 16 assists - change with segmental arch pillars ).

In the back - and stringing together plastic elements can also be a tendency for through stratification of the wall read. This becomes clear in the nave of Ely (from 1106), which won a fast rhythm by the close position of the supports.


The choir and transept of Peterborough (1118-1143) rezipieren the tendency to facilitate the wall with round and Sechseckpfeilern and the grating of horizontal and vertical members.


This development culminates tend in Romsey (1120-1140) in the teeth of the emerging pillars with the Empor zone ( during the first couple of pillars in front of the crossing is still around, show the remaining clustered columns of the nave a strong vertical trend ). This is two-fold, divided into free-standing arch profiles, the open circular field divided by an adjusted small columns. The window aisle divides the wall into three layers. The is then only visible in the narrow "bridges" between the pillars.

Special Development

A special development, possibly in interaction with Durham, seems to be expired in the west of the island, in the high round pillars positions of the longhouses - up to 9.30 meters high - Gloucester (first quarter of the 12th century ) and Tewkesbury with their shrunken central zones. In the north of the abbey church of Dunfermline (1128-1150) follows this principle. As variants of this height stretching of the arcades can probably Romsey, Jedburg, Oxford and Hereford are considered. The circular columns in a moderate proportion diffused across Southwell, Carlisle, Malvern, Chester and Melbourne.

In summary it can be said that until the mid- 12th century, the tendency inherited from Normandy continues to dissolve and body plastic structure of the wall. The rhythm by alternation of supports and wall templates, obscuring the wall thickness by half-columns, profiles and Dekorationswülste, the depth stratification of the upper floors and the gradual exhaustion of the wall are for significant. Although these individual characteristics are necessary conditions for the emergence of the Gothic, but still connected all of the Romanesque in the massiveness and severity of their shape.

The exterior Anglo -Norman churches

It demonstrates the logical assumption of structural principles of the interior represents the southern handling Chapel of Norwich with its zonigen structure and the rich Blendarkatur is an example of the Ostabschluss as it is handed down from Normandy ( modeled on the apse of La Trinité in Caen ). The transept front accepts the Norman Risalitordnung with tower structures on the corner projections. The gable is usually dissolved in blind arches, niches and ornament boxes (Norwich, Winchester, Southwell and Lincoln). The wall of the nave is in the early stages yet simple (St. Albans and Winchester ), but then becomes increasingly decorated with blind arches bands and cornices. In the clerestory the inner Laufgangarkatur is formally transferred to the exterior (Norwich, Ely, Peterborough). The " Norman crossing tower ", in the 11th century nor coarse textured ( St. Albans ) is decorated in the 12th century with Pilastergliederungen, templates and aperture. This leads to the turn of the century to complete grating the walls in Norwich ( in between Southwell and Tewkesbury ).

Western Front

A critical element of Anglo -Norman architecture is the Western Front. In the beginning is " Norman Tower Two Front" ( Norman examples are St- Étienne and La Trinité in Caen and Jumièges ). It is narrated in Durham ( 1100 ) and Southwell ( 1130 ). The towers are located in Southwell still in the run of the aisles while they go about it in Durham.

The massive block of West Lincoln ( to 1092 ) with triple- tiered, eingenischter portal zone occurs even beyond significantly beyond the aisle escapes and leads the niche motif on the southern short side over. Aperture rows adorn the upper zone. Behind it rise the mighty twin towers. These are five staggered, deep in the wall mass niches with three portals. The placement of the twin towers is on St-Etienne back in Caen.

The " niche facade" occurs later in Tewkesbury ( 1140 ) in the form of a medium ship large, deep staggered single niche.

Rochester is at the middle of the century on the western towers and busy main and side aisle with small flank towers. The decorative Blendarkatur is drawn over the whole façade.

Evident is the horizontal tendency of Anglo -Norman Westbauten in the last third of the 12th century. To 1174, the wide sweeping west transept of Ely was built. With its mighty tower solid (square, massive central tower and four octagonal towers flank ), the teeth of the members (the structure of the facade accesses which towers over ) by Horizontalarkaturen and latticework into one unit, Ely is on the threshold to Gothic.


The ornamentation and single form can not deny their Norman origin. Geometric patterns such as triangles, zigzags, diamonds, checkerboard, roles and braiding occur in ribbons and beads. With them the Archivolts the portals, windows, Scheid and gallery arch, glare and Pilasterarkaden are decorated.

Diamond, dandruff and checkerboard fill the lunettes and wall remains so in Peterborough ( transept and choir ), Hereford ( long house), Christchurch ( long house) and Ely ( facade).

Vegetal ornamentation adorns the Portalgewände (Ely, Rochester, Lincoln, etc.). Figurative architectural sculpture occurs on facades ( Lincoln) and tympana in appearance (Ely, Rochester, Malmesbury ).

A characteristic feature is the bundled zigzag or Chevronband (Durham, Gloucester, Ely, Peterborough, etc.) and crossed arched aperture (Durham, Ely, Worcester, Castle Acre, etc.). Standalone is the relief decoration of the cylinder pillar (Durham, Dunfermline, Norwich, Waltham ).

The Kapitellformen are simple cubes and richer Faltenkapitelle (Winchester, Norwich, Dunfermline, etc.). They are usually pressed or shrunk like a cushion.