About 1278 a new elevation appeared in northwestern England at St. Werburg's, Chester. Copied at Guisborough and Exeter, and via Exeter in Breton churches, the elevation used a tall clerestory to balance the height of the main arcade; in between ran a short triforium containing a wall passage. Its date uncertain, the Chester elevation has not been recognized as original or significant. Moreover, historians have queried the authenticity of the medieval fabric restored in the 19th century, and have avoided discussing the issues of elevation design and structure in English architecture. At St. Werburg's, architectural details and an elevation containing superposed wall passages are fused with English tradition. The balanced design seems easily explained as a post-Westminster modernization of a variant English design, the low triforium elevation. This type of elevation appeared periodically, but no English building provided the primary source for Chester. St. Werburg's was apparently derived from a Burgundian design brought by Savoyard masons working in north Wales. The motivation of the Chester master and the relationship of this elevation to English tradition, however, are more difficult problems to solve. An examination of the Chester elevation illuminates a complex interrelationship between influences and traditions. In post-Westminster England, foreign ideas stimulated architects to develop certain indigenous traditions, radically changing English architecture. As a result, English builders took the lead in developing later architectural fashions. Although not part of this new work, the St. Werburg's elevation challenged older English formulas in a manner that permitted these changes.
Skip Nav Destination
Research Article| October 01 1979
- Views Icon Views
- Share Icon Share
- Search Site
Virginia Jansen; Superposed Wall Passages and the Triforium Elevation of St. Werburg's, Chester. Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 1 October 1979; 38 (3): 223–243. doi: https://doi.org/10.2307/989381
Download citation file: