Friday, July 17, 2015

Fourteenth century door, Southwell

click photo to enlarge
In medieval Gothic architecture an arch that is convex below and convex above and sweeps up to a sharp, tapered point is very characteristic of the fourteenth century. Such a form became fashionable at that time and appeared in window tracery, tomb canopies, blind tracery, door surrounds, wooden doors and much else. It is called the "ogee" arch and such an arch is described as "ogival". Another term used to describe this "S" shaped moulding is "cyma recta".

We visited Southwell Minster in Nottinghamshire recently. It is a relatively small major church, cathedral-like, and is mainly of the twelfth century (Norman period) and thirteenth century (Early English period). As we entered the building through the north porch I stopped to admire the wooden doors through which we were about to pass. They were so clearly fourteenth century, very sculptural, and so well lit that I had to photograph them. The sinuous moulding that decorated the surface had ogee forms at the top and bottom of each cell indicating its date. However, that pattern, very like a net pulled taut, also suggested the fourteenth century. It too has a specific name: architectural historians call it reticulated (meaning net-like) tracery. Within each shape I could make out the worn forms of quatrefoils, four-leafed shapes also much used in Gothic architecture.

It was clear that the door had survived because of the shelter from the weather that the large, vaulted porch provided. However, the wear of everyday use over a period of seven hundred years was evident in the worn mouldings, splits, knocks and gouges. Sometimes on such doors the metal-work is also original, frequently worn very thin through long use. Many of the large headed nails looked as though they dated from the time of the door's construction. But, the door handle, though rusted and marked, hadn't the wear of centuries and it is probably a Victorian replacement.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Olympus E-M10
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 12mm (24mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/15 sec
Exposure Compensation: -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On