UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The parish church architecture of Yorkshire, ca.600 - ca.1130 Wallace, Leah Diane


The primary objective of; this thesis is to catalogue the salient elements of the Anglo-Saxon parish churches of Yorkshire within the broader context of their historical and architectural background. Through this study it may be possible to decide whether two differing movements, the Saxon and the Norman, resulted, when combined, in a new type of Saxo-Norman Northumbrian architecture or whether it resulted in the forcible imposition of one style upon another without the benefit of a creative reinterpretation of the various insular and continental elements in question. The perimeters of the period under discussion are defined by two dates. The years around 600 mark the commencement of a masonry building tradition in England and this has been selected as the starting point for the study. The year 1130 is the "terminus ante quem" for the church of St. Andrew, Weaverthorpe, and it stands as the termination of the period under analysis. Research for this thesis included both the assembly of plans and information from library resources at the University of British Columbia and the University of Toronto, and a trip to Yorkshire during the spring-and summer of 1977. At that time photographs, notes and measurements were collected on the site. The first chapter, entitled "The Historical Heritage", discusses the ecclesiastical and political history of Yorkshire and the effects they had on the cultural development of Northumbria. Particular emphasis is placed on the conservative nature and isolated position of the North and on the events surrounding the Norman Conquest in 1066, as these factors helped to determine the type and style of the structures erected just after 1066. The second chapter, entitled "The Architectural Heritage", concentrates on the architectural factors which influenced the parish churches of Yorkshire. It is divided into two sections, the Anglo-Saxon and the Norman, in which the salient characteristics of each building are described. The third chapter is the Catalogue Raisonné. It consists of the twenty-six churches in Yorkshire which contain Anglo-Saxon or early Norman fabric. These are described first with reference to any historical documents which pertain to their pre-Conquest development. The existing Anglo-Saxon and Norman elements in the churches are then described and analyzed on the basis of the constructional features and techniques discussed in Chapter II. As a result of this analysis, the buildings were placed in chronological order based on the evidence available to date. The conclusions reached as a result of this investigation reveal that 'the pre-Conquest architecture of Yorkshire is both piecemeal and poorly documented. In addition, there is little in the ancient parish architecture of this county to distinguish it from that of the rest of England prior to 1066. A change did commence during the reign of Edward the Confessor. At that time a building boom occurred which was distinguished by an increased development of complex architectural forms and a new experimental approach to structural design. However, what may ultimately have developed into a new Anglo-Saxon style was terminated with the Conquest of 1066 and the subsequent devastation of the North in 1069. In Yorkshire the result of these events was a conservation of Anglo-Saxon architectural details long after they had ceased to exist in the south of England. This holdover, which has its clearest manifestation in the church of St. Andrew, Weaverthorpe, is perhaps the only feature of Anglo-Saxon architecture in Northumbria which is distinguishable from that of the rest of England.

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