Minstrels' Gallery, Exeter Cathedral, detail. CC Attribution: Share Alike 4.0 International. Photographer: DeFacto (detail).

Online study days

Four English Medieval Churches in Context

  • Begins: Wednesday 20 November 2024
    Until: Thursday 21 November 2024
    (2.30-5pm each day)
  • Lecturer: John McNeill

The aim of this study day is to examine four surviving medieval ecclesiastical buildings – a cathedral (Exeter), a parish church (Grantham), a burial chapel (Warwick), and a monastic ruin (Glastonbury) – and  to do so from the perspective of their function and architectural character. The cathedral, Exeter, was reconstructed between c.1275 and 1342, unusually retaining the twelfth-century transept towers from the Romaneque cathedral. St Wulfram, Grantham is a giant among English parish churches, variously extended around a modest nave of c.1200, and climaxing in one of the tallest of all parish church spires. The Beauchamp Chapel at Warwick is perhaps the best preserved and documented of all English funerary chapels, built to the south of the chancel of St Mary’s, Warwick between 1443 and 1463, and intended to surpass all precedents and expectations. Finally, Glastonbury was the wealthiest abbey in England at the time of its dissolution in 1539. The site retains evidence for  a wide variety of buildings and building campaigns, but it is the lavish late twelfth-century remains which seize the eye. The communities these four buildings accommodated, and their specifically local traditions, go some way towards explaining their character, but there is much that suggests their architectural particularity may have been valued in its own right.


Day 1:
1 Exeter Cathedral
2 St Wulfram’s Church, Grantham

Day 2:
3 Beauchamp Chapel, Warwick
4 Glastonbury Abbey, Somerset


John McNeill lectures for the Department of Continuing Education at Oxford University and is a Vice-President of the London Art History Society for whom he has delivered numerous courses and led study tours and cathedral visits. He is the Secretary of the British Archaeological Association, for whom he has edited and contributed to volumes on English medieval cloisters, chantries and Romanesque material culture.

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