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10 Greatest Examples of Gothic architecture in England


English Gothic is an architectural style that flourished from the late 12th until the mid-17th century. The style was commonly used in the construction of cathedrals and churches. It symbolized power and wealth.

Gothic architecture’s defining features are pointed arches, rib vaults, buttresses, and extensive use of stained glass. These features enabled the construction of buildings that were of great height and grandeur. They were also filled with light from large stained glass windows. The Gothic style endured in England much longer than in Continental Europe. Here are the 10 Greatest Examples of Gothic Architecture in England.

1. Salisbury Cathedral

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Salisbury Cathedral, formally the Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is an Anglican cathedral in Salisbury, England. The cathedral is the mother church of the Diocese of Salisbury and is the seat of the Bishop of Salisbury.

The building is regarded as one of the leading examples of Early English Gothic architecture. Its main body was completed in 38 years, from 1220 to 1258. It contains a clock which is among the oldest working examples in the world. It also houses one of the four surviving original copies of Magna Carta.

2. Durham Cathedral

The Cathedral Church of Christ, Blessed Mary the Virgin and St Cuthbert of Durham, commonly known as Durham Cathedral is a cathedral in the city of Durham, County Durham, England. It is the seat of the Bishop of Durham who is the fourth-ranked bishop in the Church of England hierarchy.

In 1986 the cathedral and Durham Castle were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The building is notable for the ribbed vault of the nave with some of the earliest transverse pointed arches. These features appear to be precursors of the Gothic architecture of Northern France, possibly due to the Norman stonemasons responsible.

3. Wells Cathedral

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Wells Cathedral is an Anglican cathedral in Wells, Somerset, England, dedicated to St Andrew the Apostle. It is the seat of the Bishop of Bath and Wells, whose cathedra it holds as mother church of the Diocese of Bath and Wells.

Built as a Roman Catholic cathedral from around 1175 to replace an earlier church on the site since 705, it became an Anglican cathedral when King Henry VIII split from Rome. Construction of the cathedral began in about 1175, to the design of an unknown architect. Wells is the first cathedral in England to be built, from its foundation, in Gothic style.

4. All Souls College Oxford

All Souls College Oxford is a constituent college of the University of Oxford in England. All Souls College was founded jointly by Henry Chichele, Archbishop of Canterbury, and King Henry VI. It was built between 1437 and 1443, and was the ninth Oxford college.

The college’s second court is a magnificent Gothic quadrangle, one hundred and seventy-two feet in length and a hundred and fifty-five in breadth. The library forms the whole north side of this court. Its outside, in correspondence to the rest of the court, is Gothic.

5. King’s College Chapel

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King’s College Chapel is the chapel of King’s College in the University of Cambridge. It is considered one of the finest examples of late Perpendicular Gothic English architecture and features the world’s largest fan vault.

The Chapel was built in phases by a succession of kings of England from 1446 to 1515. This period spanned the Wars of the Roses and three subsequent decades. The Chapel’s large stained glass windows were completed by 1531.

6. Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey, formally titled the Collegiate Church of Saint Peter at Westminster, is a large  Gothic abbey church in the City of Westminster, London. It is one of the United Kingdom’s most notable religious buildings and a burial site for English and British monarchs.

Since the coronation of William the Conqueror in 1066, all coronations of English and British monarchs have occurred in Westminster Abbey. Sixteen royal weddings have occurred at the abbey since 1100.

7. Palace of Westminster

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The Palace of Westminster serves as the meeting place for both the House of Commons and the House of Lords. This are the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Informally known as the Houses of Parliament, the Palace lies on the north bank of the River Thames in the City of Westminster, in central London, England.

Sir Charles Barry’s collaborative design for the Palace of Westminster uses the Perpendicular Gothic style, which was popular during the 15th century and returned during the Gothic revival of the 19th century. Barry was a classical architect, but he was aided by the Gothic architect Augustus Pugin.

8. Lincoln Cathedral

Lincoln Cathedral, Lincoln Minster, or the Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lincoln is a Grade I listed cathedral. It  is the seat of the Anglican Bishop of Lincoln. Construction commenced in 1072 and continued in several phases throughout the High Middle Ages.

Like many of the medieval cathedrals of England it was built in the Early Gothic style. It is highly regarded by architectural scholars; the Victorian writer John Ruskin declared: “I have always held that the cathedral of Lincoln is out and out the most precious piece of architecture in the British Isles.”

9. Canterbury Cathedral

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Canterbury Cathedral in Canterbury, Kent, is one of the oldest and most famous Christian structures in England. It forms part of a World Heritage Site. It’s construction utilized the early Gothic style, which is illustrated by the slightly pointed arches in the Quire and Trinity Chapel.

This area of the Cathedral is also home to the tombs of Archbishops, King Henry IV, and “the Black Prince,” Edward Plantagenet. It has been the seat of the spiritual head of the Church of England for nearly five centuries.

10. York Minster

The Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Saint Peter in York, commonly known as York Minster, is the cathedral of York, North Yorkshire, England. It is one of the largest of its kind in Northern Europe. The title “minster” is attributed to churches established in the Anglo-Saxon period as missionary teaching churches, and serves now as an honorific title.

The minster was completed in 1472 after several centuries of building. York Minster is the second-largest Gothic cathedral of Northern Europe. It shows the development of English Gothic architecture from Early English through to the Perpendicular Period. It is the largest cathedral completed during the Gothic period of architecture.