Gothic Architecture in England and France

By George Herbert West | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XII
EARLY ENGLISH

IN the year after Canterbury was finished (in 1186), Hugh of Lincoln began to rebuild the choir of his cathedral. It is a most remarkable building. In it, Athene-like, Our English Gothic seems to spring at once full clad into being. There is a certain indefinable suggestion of Canterbury in parts, but rather of the work of William the Englishman than of William of Sens, and though the shafted transept columns of Canterbury were undoubtedly the origin of those at Lincoln, yet the later building is in no way copied from the other, but is the work of a genius so entirely original, that so great an authority as Violletle-Due could not believe it was not begun thirty years later than its well-attested date.1 No doubt but that in the ruin which overtook our monastic buildings at the dissolution, many links have disappeared, but just as St. Urbain of Troyes ought to have been built in the fourteenth century and not in the thirteenth, so Lincoln ought to have been begun at the end of the first quarter of the thirteenth Century, and not in the last quarter of the twelfth. But it was not, and Geoffrey de Noyers, an Englishman by birth in spite of his name, should be bracketed equal first with the unknown Frenchman who built St. Urbain, and his German successor Erwin von Steinbach of Strasburg.

In it appears, applied to the whole building, that essential mark of Early English Gothic, its columnar or shafted character. Never, even in the latest Perpendicular, did English piers become mere bundles of mouldings, but retained the up-bearing character of the column to the end. And this character, though derived from the nooked piers of the Norman, was first markedly given at Lincoln, where also we first find, as the result of the employment of Purbeck

____________________
1
But see note, p. 224.

-239-

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