Below you will find an interactive guide to churches with basic information. I have used St Mary the Virgin at Shrewsbury (we completed the 360° tour) as an example for this guide as it contains most of the most important areas and items found in churches. For the best effect please view full screen here…
Church Architecture & Periods
I often mention in the textual writeups the ‘period’ they were built, either Norman, Early English, Decorated etc. It can be confusing but once you get over the basics its all fairly easy to understand.
Most of our churches are built in the Gothic style with stong vertical lines, pointed windows and high ceilings and this style was split into several distinct periods but most are a mixture of styles from the Norman to the Perpendicular.
Norman Gothic 1066-1175
After 1066 the Normans brought there church building skills to England and many churches were rebuilt in the Norman style with wide rounded arches and small windows. Although there are very few totally Norman churches in our counties you can see much of their work at Allexton, Tickencote and in numerous arcades and doorways throughout the two counties.
Early English Gothic 1175-1250
Larger windows and more elegant churches were built in the Early English period and the French style was now adapted by English craftsmen and architects. Lancet windows became popular, narrow untraceried openings, the form is simple and gives a sense of proportion. Slender towers with spires also became popular with ribbing in vaults.
Decorated Gothic 1250-1350
Windows became far more elaborate with vertical shafts and complex tracery incorporated into the design. Arches became more ‘decorated’ and flying buttresses were invented for the large cathedrals. Stone carving became more popular and many of our churches date from this period. Improved techniques allowed for even wider windows.
Perpendicular Gothic 1350-1575
Towers gained pinnacles and windows became massive with elaborate traceried windows. Clerestory were added to heightened naves adding more light for the congregation. This was a major style for our churches and most contain at least some ‘perp’ styling especially the clerestory.
After 1575 few churches were actually built although we do have a few examples from the Georgian period with their unique interior styling. Examples are the wonderful church at Kings Norton, Teigh in Rutland and Stapleford. We also have the Commonwealth church at Staunton Harold to admire as a rare build from the 17th century. The Victorians had a more restrained classical look but we do have some examples in Leicester and one or two in the county such as the fine brick built structure at Tur Langton and the church at Ellistown . There are also some modern builds, Bagworth built in the 1960’s is a strange looking church but in keeping with all – they are fascinating places to visit whatever style they are built in.