Course overview

Recognising the main architectural styles of the medieval cathedrals is key to being able to appreciate the periods of their construction. From the great Anglo-Norman building programme, whose surviving architecture can be seen in Ely and Winchester, through the Early Gothic of Canterbury, the Early English of Salisbury, the Decorated Style of Exeter and on to the Perpendicular of York, this is a story of continuous stylistic and technical progress.

Course description

There is a natural sense of awe in entering these soaring buildings - but how did their architecture develop through the medieval period? How did change from the massive thick-walled Norman structure of the 1100s, surviving at Ely, to the extraordinarily slender Gothic work of Salisbury’s Lady Chapel in the early 1200s occur?

This short course will trace this progression - both in building methods and in the features that distinguish the varying architectural styles. Numerous examples will be given from England’s magnificent collection of surviving medieval cathedrals.

Sources of inspiration, such as the revolutionary Gothic architecture of Abbot Suger’s church of St-Denis near Paris, with its impact at Canterbury, will also be considered.

The course will examine this evolution of cathedral building in medieval England, from Anglo-Norman architecture to the introduction of the Gothic style, with its subsequent development in the distinctive forms we now call Early English, Decorated and Perpendicular. A particular fascination in these the English cathedrals is how differing styles frequently co-exist in one church as a result of selective rebuilding, notably in the replacement of Norman choirs with new Gothic work.

What financial support is available?

We don't want anything to stand in your way when it comes to bringing Adult learning within reach so if you need anything to support you to achieve your goals then speak to one of our education experts during your enrolment journey. Most of our courses are government funded but if you don't qualify or need.

What other support is available?

All of our digital content, teaching and learning activities and assessments are designed to be accessible so if you need any additional support you can discuss this with the education experts during your enrolment journey and we will do all we can to make sure you have optimal access.

Share this page:

Lady giving a thumbs up to her tablet as she watches a WEA member lecture
Image overlay triangle

Become a WEA member today

For just £15 per year, you can access many great benefits, including our award-winning weekly member lectures.

Need more information?

Need help? Complete our form and our friendly Support Services team will be back in touch.

Course contact
I am most interested in (tick all that apply)

How do we use the information we gather from you?
Please see our privacy policy.