This ten week course will introduce students to the architecture of medieval London. We will analyse, in situ, some of its foremost surviving examples—such as the Tower of London, Great St Bart’s, Temple Church and Westminster Abbey—before locating them within the larger contexts of post-Conquest England and current scholarship. We will look at the ways in which a variety of both ecclesiastical and secular buildings were constructed, the ends to which they were commissioned, and (where possible) evidence for how they were received.
One of the twentieth century’s greatest architectural clichés reads that “form follows function”. In addition to the above, one of the primary aims of this course will also be to challenge any such assumptions. If medieval buildings do sometimes express their function(s) by how they look, then they very often also acted as deep repositories—then as now—for a much broader range of socio-political, cultural and theological capital. Despite appearances, they are neither static nor unchanging. Rather than ever-following, they can perhaps be more accurately described as ever-negotiating or ever-becoming part of the landscape of the city.