Architectural Terminology

  • Created by: lrm97
  • Created on: 07-10-21 12:42

Windows (Part 1)

SILL - Horizontal piece of timber, stone, or other material forming the base to a window 

LINTEL - Horizontal piece of timber, stone, or other material forming the flat top to a window, door, or other opening. 

TRACERY - The pattern of pierced or open stonework (or other material) in a window. There are lots of different styles, and they are an important tool for dating medieval windows. 


TRANSOM AND MULLION:  A window made up of lights divided by mullions and transoms.

LIGHT - Compartment of a window

MULLION - Vertical division between lights 

TRANSOM - Horizontal division between lights

SASH WINDOWS: A window with glazed section or sections that open by sliding vertically in grooves.

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JAMB - One of the vertical sides to an opening including doors and windows 

REVEAL - The part of the jamb which lies nearest to the outer face of the wall

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Windows (Part 2)

CASEMENT WINDOWS: A window that opens on a side hinge.

DORMER WINDOWS: A window projecting from the slope of a roof.

VENETIAN WINDOWS: A window with one arched light flanked by two with flat heads. Often seen on classical buildings. 

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Roof types

Roofs can be classified by their external shape and by the form of the internal supports that hold them up. 

PITCH - The slope of a roof.

DOUBLE-PITCHED - Two slopes usually meeting at an APEX. 

GABLE - Peaked external wall at the end of a double-pitched roof.

HIP - A roof with sloped ends instead of gables. 

HALF-HIP - A gabled roof with a sloped (hipped) end to the upper part only.

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COURSE - A row of bricks.

BOND - The pattern of the brickwork, made up of STRETCHERS and HEADERS.

STRETCHER - Long side of a brick

HEADER - Short side of a brick

ENGLISH BOND - Alternate courses of headers and stretchers. 

FLEMISH BOND - Alternating headers and stretchers in each course.

MATHEMATICAL TILE - Facing tiles hung flush on the outside of (usually) timber framed houses to give the appearance of brick. 

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ASHLAR - Large blocks of stone worked into even faces and square edges with fine joints. Usually only seen in the most expensive buildings.

COURSED - Roughly squared stones laid in courses. Less worked than ashlar.

RUBBLE - Unworked stone laid randomly. 

RUSTICATION - Stonework carved to give a rough or three-dimensional finish. On classical buildings this was used on the basement/ground floor to indicate its lower status. 

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Timber Frames

WALL PLATE - Horizontal timber at the top of a wall, on which the roof trusses rest.

POST - Vertical timber, forming part of the main framework of the building, often supporting the wall plate. 

BOX FRAME - Form of consruction where the roof trusses are carried on a timber frame formed of posts, tie beams and wall plates. 

STUD - Vertical timber subsidiary in function, not forming part of the main framework of the building.

MID-RAIL - Horizontal timber centrally placed in a storey or between sill and wall plate. 

SILL BEAM - Horizontal timber at the bottom of a wall into which posts and studs are fixed.

CRUCK FRAMING - Where the roof is formed of curved blades or 'crucks; which form the main trussess and stretch down the side walls. 

JETTY - The projecting of one storey of a building beyond the storey below.

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Roof types (Part 2)

TRUSS - The rigid triangular structure constructed across a roof at regular intervals, to prevent the roof from spreading and to support the PURLINS (horizontal timbers) which support the COMMON RAFTERS (inclined (pitched) timbers of the same size, usually in pairs).

PRINCIPAL RAFTER - Inclined timber in a roof truss, usually larger than the common rafters.

TIE BEAM - Main transverse timber connecting the tops of the walls.

COLLAR - Transverse timber linking the two principal rafters paralell with the tie beam. 

KING POST - Upright timber standing in the middle of a tie beam/collar rising straight to the apex

QUEEN POST - Two upright timbers sitting on a tie beam and rising to support the collar and purlins

CROWN POST - Upright timber in the middle of a tie beam with braces rising on either side to support the collar and a horizontal timber running under the collar, usually called the CROWN PLATE.

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BEAM - A main structural member, usually of timber, which crosses an open space, often supporting a floor.

JOIST - A minor timber supporting the floor boards, supported by the beams. 

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ROUND/SEMI-CIRCULAR - Semi-circular arch with the circle's origin being at the top of the columns.

POINTED/TWO-CENTRED - An arch made up of two intersecting radii to make a point.

FOUR CENTRED - An arch made up of four intersecting radii.

MAIN ARCH - The opening/doorway.

RELIEVING ARCH - Incorporated into the wall above to relieve wall load on an opening bleow.

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Interior decoration

MANTEL - A shelf or other projecting feature over the fireplace

OVERMANTEL - Painting or plasterwork feature above the mantelshelf and fireplace.

CORNICE - Flat topped ledge with moulded underside, projecting along the top of a building (externally) or immediately underneath the ceiling (internally).

FRIEZE - A horizontal band of ornament, often situated towards the top of the wall, immediately below a cornice. 

STRAPWORK - Late 16th or 17th century decoration, usually in plaster, which is made to look like interlaced leather straps. 

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Medieval Buildings


The main type of house bwteen the 12th and late 15th century. This was a single-room building open to the roof and with a fire in the centre. One end was the HIGH END with the table, the other was the LOW END with main entrance, usually by two doorways in opposite walls forming the CROSS PASSAGE

Modifications of the basic type might include a screen to divide the passage at the low end and keep out draughts. 

The basic type developed with the addition of two service rooms (BUTTERY and PANTRY) at the low end and further living quarters beyond the high end (SOLAR or PARLOUR).

Other variations included external JETTIES to the wings or an internal jetty. All were originally only one room deep (SINGLE-PILE HOUSE). 

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Classical Buildings

COLUMN - Usually made up of a shaft, base, and capital of various designs. Shafts could be round or FLUTED.


PILASTER - Flat version of a column , projects slightly from the wall face. Can be seen on very early Anglo-Saxon buildings without a base or capital, where it is called a PILASTER *****.

PEDIMENT - A formalised gable derived from that of a classical temple, also used to cover doors and windows.

PARAPET - A low wall or barrier placed at the edge of a platform, balcony or roof or alongside a bridge or quay. In classical buildings the parapet was used to conceal the roof structure so that it was not visible when approaching the building. 

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