Tower in Christian Architecture

Tower In Christian Architecture

Any attempt to particularize the various kinds of towers which have been adopted by different nations in former ages would far exceed the scope of this work; the following observations, therefore, are chiefly confined to those which were in use in the Middle Ages in England and the adjacent parts of Europe, and more especially to the towers of churches. Among the Greeks and Romans, towers were employed of various forms and for different purposes, but by no means so abundantly as in after-ages, and in general they appear not to have been so lofty as those of medieval date. The tower of Anidronicus Cyrrhestes, called also the Temple of the Winds, at Athens, is octagonal; at Autun, in France, a considerable part of a large amid lofty square tower of late Roman work exists. The tower for the use of bells is supposed not to have been introduced till the 5th century, and hence the term campanile, applied to the Italian towers. SEE SPIRE.

In the Middle Ages the towers of castles were numerous and of striking character. During the prevalence of the Norman style the keep often consisted of a large rectangular tower, with others of smaller size attached to the angles, and these last mentioned generally rose higher than the, main building, as at the White Tower of London and the castles of Rochester. and Guildford. The keep tower of Conisburgh Castle, in Yorkshire, which is of the latest Norman work, is circular, with large buttresses on the outside; in other examples, especially in those of later date, the keep towers are of various forms, often irregular, apparently so constructed as being considered best adapted to the peculiarities of the sites, and the systems of defense in use at the periods of their erection. Besides these main towers, many others, which, though of less magnitude than the keep, were often of very considerable size, were employed in different parts of fortifications, especially at the entrances, where the gateways were generally flanked by towers projecting considerably before the main walls; these were pierced with loop-holes and oilets, and were commonly surmounted with. machicolations. SEE TURRET.

Church-towers of all dates are greatly diversified, not only in their details, but also in general proportions and form; they are occasionally detached from the building to which they belong, but are usually annexed to it, and are to be found placed in almost every possible situation except about the east end of the chancel. In all cases their use was for hanging the bells, and hence the name belfry. Large churches have often several towers, especially when the plan is cruciform; and in this case there are generally two at the west end, and one, of larger dimensions, at the intersection of the transepts, as at the cathedrals of Canterbury, York, and Lincoln. Ordinary parish churches have usually but one tower. In some examples, where there is an entrance to the church through the lower story of a tower, it is made to form a porch with an open archway on one side, as at Cranbrook, and many other churches in Kent; or on three sides, as at Newnham, Northamptonshire. In towns, towers are sometimes placed over public thoroughfares, and in such situations are built on open archways. It is not unusual to find church-towers which batter, or diminish upward: these are generally of Norman or Early English date; but in some districts, as in Northamptonshire, this mode of construction was continued to a later period.

The towers belonging to the style described in the article SEE SAXON ARCHITECTURE (q.v.) are square and massive, not of lofty proportions, and apparently never were provided with stone staircases. Some of them are considerably ornamented, as at the churches of Barnack and Earl's Barton, Northamptonshire; and others are very plain, as at St. Michael's, Oxford, and St. Benet's, Cambridge: the tower of the Church 'of Sompting, Sussex, which belongs to this style, terminates with a gable on each of the four sides, and is surmounted by a wooden spire; but whether or not this was the original form may be doubted.

In some parts of Great Britain circular church-towers are to be found, These have sometimes been assumed to be of very high antiquity, but the character of their architecture shows that they commonly belong to-the Norman and Early English styles. They are built of rough flints, generally of coarse workmanship, with very little ornament of any kind, and that little, for the most part, about the upper story one of the best examples is that of Little Saxham Church, Sinffolk. Plain round towers in the counties of Norfolk and Sutffolk are of all periods; the only materials readily accessible being flints, an these not admitting of square corners, the towers were built round, and this practice is continued even to the present day.

Norman towers are generally square, and of rather low proportions, seldom rising much more than their own breadth above the roof of the church, and sometimes not so much. They generally have broad flat buttresses at the angles, and are usually provided with a stone staircase carried up in a projecting turret attached to one of the: angles; this is very commonly rectangular externally, but the form is not infrequently changed towards the top, especially if the turret is carried up the whole height of the tower: occasionally polygonal Norman towers are to be met with, as at Ely Cathedral. In Normandy a few examples of village church towers of this style exist, which are capped with pyramidal stone roofs, like low square spires, but in general the roofs and parapets are additions of later date. Many Norman towers are very considerably ornamented the upper stories being usually the richest, while others are very plain. Good specimens remain at St. Alban's Abbey; the cathedrals of Norwich, Exeter, and Winchester; Tewkesbury Abbey; South well Minster; the churches of St. Peter, Northampton; St. Clement, Sandwich; Iffly, Oxfordshire; Stewkley, Buckinghamshire, etc.

In Early English towers much greater variety of design and proportion is found than in those of prior date. The prevailing plan is square, but some examples are octagonal, and occasionally the upper part of a square tower is changed to an octagon. Projecting stair-turrets are almost universal, though they are frequently so much masked by buttresses as to be in great measure concealed. Many towers in this style are of lofty proportions, while others are low and massive. The best examples are generally more or less ornamented, and some are very highly enriched. The belfry windows are often large and deeply recessed, with numerous bold moldings in the jambs, and sometimes appear to have been originally left quite open. Considerable variety of outline is produced by the different arrangement, sizes, and forms of the buttresses at the angles of towers in this as well as in the later styles of Gothic architecture, and sometimes, instead of buttresses, small turrets are used, which rise from the ground and generally terminate in pinnacles. Many towers of this date are finished at the top with parapets; some of them with pinnacles at the angles, a few with two gables called pack-saddle roofs (as Brookthorpe, Northamptonshire), and many are surmounted with spires, which, although perhaps in the majority of cases they are of later date than the towers, appear to have been originally contemplated. Examples remain at the cathedrals of Oxford and Peterborough, the churches of St. Mar, Stamford; Ketton and Ryhall, Rutland . Loddington and Raundes, Northamptonshire; Middleton Stoney, Oxfordshire, etc.

In the Decorated and Perpendicular styles towers differ very considerably both in proportions and amount of enrichment, and considerable diversity of outline and effect is produced by varying the arrangement and form of the subordinate parts, such as windows, buttresses, pinnacles, etc.; but in general composition they do not differ very materially from. Early English towers. Many are very lofty, and others of low proportions; some highly enriched, and some perfectly plaint; a large, and probably the greater, number are crowned with parapets, usually with a pinnacle at each corner, and sometimes with one or two others, commonly of rather smaller size, on each of the sides; many, also, terminate with spires, or, especially in the Perpendicular style with lanterns. Decorated towers remain at Lincoln Cathedral; the churches of Heckington and Caythiorpe, Lincolnshire; Newark, Nottinghamshire; Finedon, Northamptonshire; St. Mary's, Oxford, etc. Perpendicular towers are very numerous in all parts of the kingdom, especially in Somersetshire. Among such as are best deserving of attention may be mentioned those at Canterbury, York, and Gloucester cathedrals; and the churches at Boston and Louth, Lincolnshire; Kettering, Northamptonshire; Cirencester. Gloucestershire; Great Malvern, Worcestershire; and that at St. Mary Magdalen College, Oxford.

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