A Brief Guide to Church Architecture

Medieval church architecture is in general divided into four periods:

Norman (1066-1200)
Squat and solid with massive pillars and rounded arches, windows and doorways, decorated with dog tooth and chevron patterns. (Nearby, Southwell Minster is a good example).

Early English (13th century)
Taller and more elegant columns; arches and openings now have pointed tops but are still quite simple. (Salisbury cathedral; the North chancel in St Sebastian’s)

Decorated (14th century)
As the name suggests. Windows, in particular, are more detailed - larger and with tracery. (York Minster, The remaining windows in the chancel and nave in St Sebastian’s).

Perpendicular (15th century)
Tudor style; windows become simpler in design - often with flattened arches at the top - (Kings College Cambridge and in St Sebastian’s the clerestory windows and the staircase door in the tower). The architecture enhances the vertical dimension - hence the name.

When visiting a church it is useful to know which direction you are facing. In St Sebastian’s you enter by the South porch. The tower area on your left is therefore at the West End, and the chancel at the East end.