You can determine the period in which a building was constructed (or reconstructed) by its architectural and decorative details. In a country like England, where the age of buildings can span a thousand-year period (a few Anglo-Saxon churches are even older than that), many different styles evolved. The architectural periods are often named for the monarch or royal family reigning at the time. On your vacation to the UK you can enhance your enjoyment of England’s abundance of historic buildings if you know a few key features of the different styles.

The following list is a brief primer in English architectural history, from Norman to Victorian times:

Norman (1066–1189): Round arches, barrel vaults, and highly deco- rated archways characterize this period’s Romanesque style.

Early English Gothic (1189–1272): The squat, bulky buildings of the Norman period gave way to the taller, lighter buildings constructed in this style.

Decorated Gothic (1272–1377): Buildings in this style have large windows, tracery (ornamental work with branching lines), and heavily decorated gables and arches.

Perpendicular Gothic (1377–1483): Large buttresses (exterior side supports) allowed churches to have larger windows than ever before. Tracery was more elaborate than in previous Gothic build- ings; the four-centered arch appeared; and architects perfected fan vaulting (a decorative form of vaulting in which the structural ribs spread upward and outward along the ceiling like the rays of a fan).

Tudor (1485–1553): During this period, buildings evolved from Gothic to Renaissance styles. Large houses and palaces were built with a new material: brick. England has many half-timbered Tudor and Elizabethan domestic and commercial buildings. This method of construction used brick and plaster between visible wooden timbers.

Elizabethan (1553–1603): The Renaissance brought a revival of classical features, such as columns, cornices (prominent rooflines with brackets and other details), and pediments (a decorative trian- gular feature over doorways and windows). The many large houses and palaces of this period were built in an E or H shape and con- tained long galleries, grand staircases, and carved chimneys.

Jacobean (1603–1625): In England, Inigo Jones adopted the sym- metrical, classically inspired Palladian style that arrived from Italy, but he used it in a freer and more fanciful way. Buildings in this style incorporate elements from ancient Greek and Roman architec- ture. Columns and pilasters, round-arch arcades, and flat roofs with openwork parapets became common.