The overall period covered in this summary is from the commencement of Saint Wulfstan’s cathedral in 1084, and the rebuilding work at the time of Bishop Wakefield, 1375-1394.
Until the early nineteenth century, the naming of periods, or a generally accepted classification of their dates, was haphazard. Antiquarian curiosity brought about studying the physical history of church buildings in the twelfth century, but it was not until the second half of the nineteenth century that a more archaeological detailed study of buildings and their structure became widespread.
It was, however, the publication in 1817 by the architect Thomas Rickman of “An attempt to discriminate the styles of English Architecture from the Conquest to the Reformation” that our present nomenclature was gradually adopted. The five principal styles of medieval architecture illustrated in the Worcester Cathedral guide are:
Romanesque – more commonly called Norman, 1050-1150
Transitional Norman (from Norman to Gothic), 1150-1200
Early English, 1150-1250
It should be noted that the above dates are a general guide and that some opinions can be more specific but all dates can overlap or be determined with expertise by other factors.
The three styles, Early English, Decorated and Perpendicular come within the overall description of Gothic, but Perpendicular was created in England and is therefore English Gothic.
All Gothic essentials were present in England well before the middle of the twelfth century, for example in Durham Cathedral. It should also be noted that there were varieties within the Decorative style, for example curvilinear and geometric.
There was, however, a word “Gothick” (Neo-Gothick) – a derogatory term used to describe the excesses of romantic medievalism in the late eighteenth century by those wishing to revive Greek classical styles.
A lifetime’s study – enjoy!