Lichfield Cathedral was developed on the grounds of what was first a Saxon and next a Norman site, but which became Gothic in 1195, when the style was emerging in England. The particular allure of this cathedral is its interment of St. Chad of Mercia, for whom many pilgrims gathered, and apparently continued to gather, as according to the cathedral’s website, “the Cathedral was expanded by the addition of a Lady Chapel, and there were perhaps as many as twenty altars around the Cathedral by 1500.” As such, the Cathedral expanded to accommodate the masses, but even before they entered, it would treat them to its visual splendor and awe.
The towering spires seem much more daunting than they seem to actually try to be; for if the fleeting sunlight catches one of the golden cross finials, one might even find them more ecclesiastical than egregious. Like a fine coffee, the strong spires seem a suitably intimidating, smooth blend of the unfaceted (when at all present) Romanesque pinnacles and Early Gothic’s sharp peaks . The smaller pinnacles at Lichfield have crockets and are characteristically Decorated but could be moving towards Perpendicular Gothic, though with the immense decoration and detail work of the cathedral’s walls, Lichfield is evidently of the Decorated Gothic style .
The unmitigatingly ornate exterior of Lichfield at once overwhelms and clarifies its focuses. From the window’s geometric tracery to the literally embossed blind arcading and bli...
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...ed ornaments, to be an exemplary model of Decorated Gothic architecture.
From its purposes of meeting pilgrims’ expectations while visiting St. Chad, Lichfield evolved to at once provide opposites in harmony: carrying heaviness on light in the nave and choir; carvings and still softness of form; and the use of “self-centred patterns” to balance against “the multiplicity of similar elements…bound to produce a crowding of lines”, as in the West front’s niches. The geometric tracery coupled with wall adornment and the rising value of the ceiling are illuminated at Lichfield; history of the Civil War is seen through the architectural distinctions of the north and south transepts; and influences of and over other cathedrals make Lichfield’s Decorated Gothic experience, as embodied by its three spires, a remarkable and unique vision of design’s transitions and triumphs.
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