Tag Archives: Funding

Guest Reviewer Sessions

One of the most exciting parts of any research project are the unexpected questions which arise along the way. Whilst reviewing our scan data or attempting to reconstruct the underlying design processes of medieval vaults, we often encounter gaps in our knowledge about the architecture of a specific site. This can include issues ranging from technical problems, such as the execution of particular features of a building’s stonework, to structural problems, such as the presence or absence of differential settlement across its individual bays, to historical problems, such as the fine details of its chronology. Though these can often be addressed by reading the extensive list of books and articles which have been written about these buildings, sometimes the published literature can only take you so far. In addition, there are many occasions on which the evidence which we have discovered is ambiguous or unclear, supporting to multiple alternative interpretations of a single vault.

With this in mind we have begun to organise a series of guest reviewer sessions, funded by the Research Development Initiative Fund (RDIF) at the University of Liverpool’s School of the Arts. These involve inviting external experts to come to Liverpool to discuss our research and help us answer many of our questions relating to specific sites. Each session focuses on a particular group of buildings, inviting individuals from a range of academic backgrounds including architectural history, art history, archaeology and structural analysis. So far we have run three sessions, the first focusing on our work on Norton Priory, Gloucester and Lincoln, the second on our studies of Chester, Nantwich and Ely and the third on Pershore and Tewkesbury. All of these were extremely useful and opened up many new avenues of discussion which we have continued to pursue over the following months. Though the COVID-19 outbreak has forced us to curtail our plans, we are intending to organise further sessions digitally once things have settled down.

Funding to scan vaults at Ely Cathedral

Through the Lambarde Fund, we have received a grant from the Society of Antiquaries to scan the lierne vaults at Ely Cathedral, which we intend to carry out towards the end of the summer. The main vaults we will scan and analyse are:

  • Retrochoir (tierceron vaults built under Hugh of Northwold  1234 and 1252, thus, like the Chapter House at Chester, immediately after and influenced by the nave at Lincoln).
  • Octagon (tierceron vaults constructed in timber after the collapse of the Norman crossing in 1322 and showing a similar interest in centralised space as the Wells Lady Chapel).
  • First three bays of presbytery (dated c. 1330 and described by Pevsner as the earliest lierne vault in East Anglia) which also includes an aisle vault in first 3 bays of the north aisle.
  • Lady Chapel – lierne vault of a stellate pattern, built after the Octagon and choir so c.1335-50.
  • Prior Crauden’s Chapel – a vault reconstructed by Willis from the evidence of the springing blocks.

We hope to investigate the decisions taken by Willis when reconstructing the vaults of St Catherine’s Chapel and Prior Crauden’s Chapel in the 1840s.

In addition to forming a case study in its own right, we also hope the  data collected will also allow us to explore differences in vaulting methods between the West Country and South Eastern Decorated styles.

Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0