Radiocarbon dating has shown them to be, as historian John Davies says, "the first substantial, permanent constructions of man and that the earliest of them are nearly 1, years older than the first of the pyramids of Egypt. The structure is an annual calendar, but the reason for the massive size is unknown with any certainty, suggestions include agriculture, ceremonial use and interpreting the cosmos.
Megalithic burial monuments, either individual barrows also known, and marked on modern British Ordnance Survey maps, as Tumuli, or occasionally cists covered by cairns , are one form. The other is the defensive earthworks known as hill forts , such as Maiden Castle and Cadbury Castle.
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Archaeological evidence suggests that British Iron Age domestic architecture had a tendency towards circular dwellings, known as roundhouses. The Roman period brought the construction of the first large-scale buildings in Britain, but very little survives above ground besides fortifications. These include sections of Hadrian's Wall , Chester city walls and coastal forts such as those at Portchester , Pevensey and Burgh Castle , which have survived through incorporation into later castles.
Other structures still standing include a lighthouse at Dover Castle , now part of a church. In most cases, only foundations, floors and the bases of walls attest to the structure of former buildings. Some of these were on a grand scale, such as the palace at Fishbourne and the baths at Bath.
The more substantial buildings of the Roman period adhered closely to the style of Roman structures elsewhere, although traditional Iron Age building methods remained in general use for humbler dwellings, especially in rural areas. Architecture of the Anglo-Saxon period exists only in the form of churches, the only structures commonly built in stone apart from fortifications. The earliest examples date from the 7th century, notably at Bradwell-on-Sea and Escomb , but the majority from the 10th and 11th centuries.
Due to the systematic destruction and replacement of English cathedrals and monasteries by the Normans , no major Anglo-Saxon churches survive; the largest extant example is at Brixworth. The main material is ashlar masonry, sometimes accompanied by details in reused Roman brick. Anglo-Saxon churches are typically high and narrow and consist of a nave and a narrower chancel ; these are often accompanied by a west tower.
Some feature porticus projecting chambers to the west or to the north and south, creating a cruciform plan. Characteristic features include quoins in 'long-and-short work' alternating vertical and horizontal blocks and small windows with rounded or triangular tops, deeply splayed or in groups of two or three divided by squat columns. The most common form of external decoration is lesene strips thin vertical or horizontal strips of projecting stone , typically combined with blind arcading.
In the 11th century the Normans were among Europe's leading exponents of Romanesque architecture , a style which had begun to influence English church building before , but became the predominant mode in England with the huge wave of construction that followed the Norman Conquest. Most of the latter were later partially or wholly rebuilt in Gothic style , and although many still preserve substantial Romanesque portions, only Durham Cathedral remains a predominantly Romanesque structure along with St Alban's and Southwell , abbey churches in the medieval period.
Even Durham displays significant transitional features leading towards the emergence of Gothic. Distinctively Norman features include decorative chevron patterns. In the wake of the invasion William I and his lords built numerous wooden motte-and-bailey castles to impose their control on the native population. Many were subsequently rebuilt in stone, beginning with the Tower of London. There are also a very small number of domestic Norman buildings still standing, for example Jew's House , Lincoln; manor houses at Saltford and Boothby Pagnall ; and fortified manor houses such as Oakham Castle.
Little survives of the vernacular architecture of the medieval period due to the use of perishable materials for the great majority of buildings.
Most domestic buildings were built on timber frames , usually with wattle and daub infill. Roofs were typically covered with thatch ; wooden shingles were also employed, and from the 12th century tile and slate came into use in some areas. One bay at each end was split into two storeys and used for service rooms and private rooms for the owner. Buildings surviving from this period included moated manor houses of which Ightham Mote is a notable late medieval example, and Wealden hall houses such as Alfriston Clergy House.
Tintagel Old Post Office is a 14th-century manor house in a part of the country where stone was the typical building material for better houses. Little Moreton Hall , a large manor house begun in and later extended, is a famous showpiece of decorative half-timbering. The bastle house was a two-storey version, continuing what had been a common form of house for the better-off across the country in the late Anglo-Saxon and Norman periods.
The Tudor period constitutes a transitional phase, in which the organic continuity and technical innovation of the medieval era gave way to centuries in which architecture was dominated by a succession of attempts to revive earlier styles. However, the Reformation brought an effective halt to church-building in England which continued in most parts of the country until the 19th century. By the time of Henry VII's accession castle-building in England had come to an end and under the Tudors ostentatious unfortified country houses and palaces became widespread, built either in stone or in brick, which first became a common building material in England in this period.
Characteristic features of the early Tudor style included imposing gatehouses a vestige of the castle , flattened pointed arches in the Perpendicular Gothic manner, square-headed windows, decoratively shaped gables and large ornate chimneys. Over the course of the 16th century Classical features derived from the Renaissance architecture of Italy exerted an increasing influence, initially on surface decoration but in time shaping the entire design of buildings, while the use of medieval features declined.
This development gave rise to palatial stone dwellings or prodigy houses such as Hardwick Hall and Montacute House. During the 17th century the continuing advance of Classical forms overrode the eclecticism of English Renaissance architecture, which gave way to a more uniform style derived from continental models, chiefly from Italy. This entailed a retreat from the structural sophistication of Gothic architecture to forms derived from the more primitive construction methods of Classical antiquity.
The style was typified by square or round-headed windows and doors, flat ceilings, colonnades , pilasters , pediments and domes.
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Classical architecture in England tended to be relatively plain and simple in comparison with the contemporaneous Baroque architecture of the continent, being influenced above all by the Palladian style of Italy. The Great Fire of London in forced the reconstruction of much of the city, which was the only part of the country to see a significant amount of church-building between the Reformation and the 19th century. Sir Christopher Wren was employed to replace many of the destroyed churches, but his master plan for rebuilding London as a whole was rejected.
Wren's churches exemplify the distinctive English approach to church-building in the Classical manner, which largely rejected the domes that typified the continental Baroque and employed a wide range of different forms of steeple , experimental efforts to find a substitute for the Gothic spire within a Classical mode.
However, a dome featured very prominently in Wren's grandest construction, St Paul's Cathedral , the only English cathedral in any permutation of the Classical tradition. The later 17th century saw Baroque architecture, a version of Classicism characterised by heavy massing and ostentatiously elaborate decoration, become widespread in England.
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Grand Baroque country houses began to appear in England in the s, exemplified by Chatsworth House and Castle Howard. The 18th century saw a turn away from Baroque elaboration and a reversion to a more austere approach to Classicism. This shift initially brought a return to the Italian Palladianism that had characterised the earliest manifestations of Classical architecture in England. Later Neoclassical architecture increasingly idealised ancient Greek forms, which were viewed as representing Classicism in its original 'purity', as against Roman forms, now regarded as degenerate.
This period also saw the emergence of an increasingly planned approach to urban expansion, and the systematic, simultaneous construction of whole streets or squares, or even of entire districts, gave rise to new forms of domestic construction, the terrace and the crescent , as exemplified in Bath and in Bloomsbury and Mayfair in London. The 19th century saw a fragmentation of English architecture, as Classical forms continued in widespread use but were challenged by a series of distinctively English revivals of other styles, drawing chiefly on Gothic, Renaissance and vernacular traditions but incorporating other elements as well.
This ongoing historicism was counterposed by a resumption of technical innovation, which had been largely in abeyance since the Renaissance but was now fuelled by new materials and techniques derived from the Industrial Revolution , particularly the use of iron and steel frames , and by the demand for new types of building.
The rapid growth and urbanisation of the population entailed an immense amount of new domestic and commercial construction, while the same processes combined with a religious revival to bring about a resumption of widespread church building. Mechanised manufacturing, railways and public utilities required new forms of building, while the new industrial cities invested heavily in grand civic buildings and the huge expansion and diversification of educational, cultural and leisure activities likewise created new demands on architecture.
The Gothic revival was a development which emerged in England and whose influence, except in church building, was largely restricted to the English-speaking world. It had begun on a small scale in the 18th century under the stimulus of Romanticism , a trend initiated by Horace Walpole 's house Strawberry Hill. However, widespread Gothic construction began only in the 19th century, led by the renewal of church building but spreading to secular construction.
Early Gothic revival architecture was whimsical and unsystematic, but in the Victorian era the revival developed an abstract rigour and became a movement driven by cultural, religious and social concerns which extended far beyond architecture, seeing the Gothic style and the medieval way of life as a route to the spiritual regeneration of society. The first great ideologue of this movement was Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin , who together with Charles Barry designed the new Houses of Parliament , the grandest work of Victorian Gothic architecture.
The Parliament building's Perpendicular style reflects the predominance of the later forms of English Gothic in the early Victorian period, but this later gave way to a preference for plain Early English or French Gothic, and above all to a style derived from the architecture of medieval Italy and the Low Countries. This High Victorian Gothic was driven chiefly by the writings of John Ruskin , based on his observations of the buildings of Venice , while its archetypal practitioner was the church architect William Butterfield.
It was characterised by heavy massing, sparse use of tracery or sculptural decoration and an emphasis on polychrome patterning created through the use of different colours of brick and stone.
The Gothic revival also drove a widespread effort to restore deteriorating medieval churches, a practice which often went beyond restoration to involve extensive reconstruction. The most active exponent of this activity was also the most prolific designer of new Gothic buildings, George Gilbert Scott , whose work is exemplified by St Pancras Station. Other leading Victorian Gothic architects included G. Street , J.
Pearson and G. The Victorian period also saw a revival of interest in English vernacular building traditions, focusing chiefly on domestic architecture and employing features such as half-timbering and tile-hanging, whose leading practitioner was Richard Norman Shaw. This development too was shaped by much wider ideological considerations, strongly influenced by William Morris and the Arts and Crafts Movement.
While its ethos shared much with the Gothic revival, its preoccupations were less religious and were connected with romantic socialism and a distaste for industrialisation and urban life. In the later 19th century vernacular elements mingled with forms drawn from the Renaissance architecture of England and the Low Countries to produce a synthesis dubbed the Queen Anne Style , which in fact bore very little resemblance to the architecture of that reign.
While some architects of the period were ideologically committed to a particular manner, a tendency personified by Pugin, others were happy to move between styles.
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