Notes of Lessons: Architecture, Class IV

Notes of Lessons: Architecture, Class IV

[We have thought that it might be of use to our readers (in their own families) to publish from month to month during the current year, Notes of Lessons prepared by students of the House of Education for the pupils of the Practising School. We should like to say, however, that such a Lesson is never given as a tour de force, but is always an illustration or an expansion of some part of the children’s regular studies (in the Parents’ Review School), some passage in one or other of their school books.—Ed.]

Group: Art • Class IV • Age: 16 1/2 • Time: 45 minutes

By Agnes C. Drury
The Parents’ Review, 1903, pp. 304-305

Architecture, in connection with Furness Abbey


I. To prepare for a visit to Furness Abbey by:—

(a) Interesting the pupils in architecture by a comparison of the two earliest styles (Norman and Early English) exemplified in Furness Abbey.

(b) Giving opportunity to realize the beauties of the two styles in pictures, both of Furness and of other buildings of the same dates.

(c) Linking architecture with history.

II. To form a new relation with the past and with art.

III. To provide food for the imagination.


Step I.—Find out whether the pupils have seen the Abbey and get them to describe, or describe to them, the “Vale of Deadly Nightshade.” Show some general views of the ruins and picture the foundation of the Abbey by a colony of Benedictine monks from Normandy, to whom Stephen had given his lands in Furness.

Step II.—Picture the housing of the brethren in temporary structures. Question the pupils as to the buildings necessary, the probable form of the church, and the portions with which the monks would begin, sketching on the board a rough plan of each part as it is mentioned, i.e., the presbytery and transepts, south aisle, cloister, dormitory and chapter house. At the same time, show how the adoption of the Cistercian rule in 1147 modified earlier plans and determined the structure of the Abbey.

Step III.—Using a small printed plan of the Abbey to indicate the positions of various parts, with the help of numerous pictures, make an imaginary circuit of the church, noticing the characteristics of the Norman period: the north door, the three-ordered arches and pillars of the north transept, the triforium arcade, round-headed windows, round and clustered pillars of the nave, and the door into the cloisters. Ask the pupils what line of kings was reigning, and give the period its name, Norman. In order that they may realize that similar building was going on in England and Normandy at the same time, show pictures of the Norman Abbeys, of Canterbury Cathedral, etc., and of details resembling those at Furness.

Step IV.—Again by the help of pictures, notice the Early English characteristics: the lancet windows of the dormitory, the great transition arches with their mouldings, the trefoiled arches in the arcade of the vestibule to the chapter house, the pillars, windows and the vaulting of the chapter house. Compare these with other examples of the period, Salisbury, Hexham, etc., and contrast with the Norman.

Step V.—Have a rough chart of two centuries, 1050—1250, with a square for every decade, sketched on the board. Shade the Norman period, 1090—1150, in one colour; the Early English, 1189—1272, in another; the three decades of transition in a third: and mark the accessions of William the Conqueror, Stephen and Richard I., and the foundation of Furness Abbey.

Ask the pupils to draw the distinctive forms of arch, etc., for each period, and show them the large historical plan of Furness Abbey.