1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Early English Period

EARLY ENGLISH PERIOD, in architecture, the term given by Rickman to the first pointed or Gothic style in England, nominally 1189–1307, which succeeded the Romanesque or Norman period towards the end of the 12th century, and developed into the Decorated period in the commencement of the 14th century. It is chiefly characterized by the almost universal employment of the pointed arch, not only in arches of wide span such as those of the nave arcade, but for doorways and windows. The actual introduction of the pointed arch took place at a much earlier date, as in the nave arcade of the Cistercian Abbey of Buildwas (1140), though the clerestory window above has semicircular arches. It is customary, therefore, to make allowance for a transitional epoch from the middle of the 12th century. Although the pointed arches used are sometimes equilateral and sometimes drop-arches, the lancet-arch is the most characteristic. The period is best recognized in England by the great depth given to the hollows of the mouldings, alternating with fillets and rolls, by the decoration of the hollows with the dog-tooth ornament, by the circular abacus of the capitals, and the employment of slender detached shafts of Purbeck marble which are attached to piers by circular moulded shaft-rings (Fr. anneau).

The arches are sometimes cusped; circles with trefoils, quatrefoils, &c., are introduced into the tracery, and large rose windows in the transept or nave, as at Lincoln (1220). The conventional foliage decorating the capitals is of great beauty and variety, and extends to spandrils, bosses, &c. In the spandrils of the arches of the nave, transept or choir arcades, diaper work is occasionally found, as in the transept of Westminster Abbey. The latter is one of the chief examples of the period, to which must be added the cathedral of Salisbury (except the tower); the Galilee at Ely; nave and transept of Wells (1225–1240); nave of Lincoln; west front of Peterborough; and the minster at Beverley.  (R. P. S.)