(active 1220-1266 in Salisbury)

Exterior view

Cathedral, Salisbury

The history of medieval England was deeply marked by the centuries old conflict with France. The rivalry is clearly reflected in the development of Gothic architecture: right from the beginning the English chose to follow an independent path. Conscious of their traditions, as far as possible they preserved their Anglo-Norman building methods, which had developed from 10th- and 11th-century Anglo-Saxon architecture, also the Norman architecture introduced by the conquest of 1066. During the whole Gothic era it was mainly those features compatible with Anglo-Norman principles that the English adopted from the wealth of French architectural forms. There arose in England an independent variant of Gothic architecture whose common features can be seen in Salisbury Cathedral, one of the most significant examples.

Salisbury Cathedral was built between 1220 and 1266, roughly in the same period as Amiens Cathedral. It is not situated in the town centre but on the edge of the town in a spacious cathedral precinct. North of the cathedral there was originally a free-standing clock tower in the style of an Italian campanile. To the south is a cloister surrounded by a high polygonal central building, the chapter house.

The ground plan of the cathedral is made up entirely of rectangles. A large extensive transept divides the building in the middle. On the exterior this crossing is marked by a tower. Out of the eastern half a second, smaller transept rises up. Behind that the choir is made up of a number of buildings that become lower as we move eastwards: a high choir, a rectangular ambulatory, and a low eastern chapel. The ambulatory led to the east chapel, the retrochoir.

On the exterior of Salisbury there is none of the open buttressing so impressive in French buildings. The present-day flying buttresses are later additions. The original buttressing in Salisbury is hidden under the roofs of the side aisles, a typical English solution that is linked to Anglo-Norman traditions.

The photo shows the west façade of the cathedral.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.