Glossary of technical terms

The Records of St. Bartholomew's Priory and St. Bartholomew the Great, West Smithfield: Volume 2. Originally published by Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1921.

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E A Webb, 'Glossary of technical terms', in The Records of St. Bartholomew's Priory and St. Bartholomew the Great, West Smithfield: Volume 2, (Oxford, 1921) pp. xvii-xix. British History Online [accessed 21 May 2024].

E A Webb. "Glossary of technical terms", in The Records of St. Bartholomew's Priory and St. Bartholomew the Great, West Smithfield: Volume 2, (Oxford, 1921) xvii-xix. British History Online, accessed May 21, 2024,

Webb, E A. "Glossary of technical terms", The Records of St. Bartholomew's Priory and St. Bartholomew the Great, West Smithfield: Volume 2, (Oxford, 1921). xvii-xix. British History Online. Web. 21 May 2024,


Abacus. The uppermost division of a capital.

Almuce or Amess. Fur cape with hood, and long tails in front.

Apse. The semicircular or polygonal end of a chancel or other part of a church.

Arcade. A range of arches carried on piers or columns.

Architrave. An ornamental moulding to the jambs and head of a doorway or window.

Arris. A sharp edge or corner.

Ashlar. Masonry wrought to an even face and square edges.

Aumbry. A locker or small cupboard cut or built in a wall.

Base. The lower part of a pillar or wall.

Battlemented. With an indented parapet.

Bay. A principal compartment or division in the architectural arrangement of a building.

Bead. A small round moulding.

Bench. A low stone seat on the inside of a wall.

Billet. A short roll inserted at intervals in a hollow moulding (Norman architecture).

Boss. A projecting ornament at the intersection of the ribs of a vault or panelled ceiling.

Canopy. A projection or hood over a door or window; the covering above a tomb or niche.

Capital or Cap. The head of a column.

Chamfer. The small plane when a sharp edge is cut away.

Chantry. An endowment to provide for the chanting of memorial masses.

Chevron. Inverted V-shaped moulding.

Clearstorey or Clerestory. An open story or range of windows immediately below the roof.

Cloister. A covered way round a quadrangle.

Compound or Engaged Piers. When two or more are united together.

Coping. The covering course of a wall or parapet.

Corbel. A projecting stone or piece of timber supporting a superincumbent weight.

Cornice. The horizontal moulded projection encircling the top of a building.

Credence. A shelf, niche, or table on which the vessels for Holy Communion are placed.

Crest, Cresting. An ornamental finish on the top edge of a screen.

Crockets. Projecting conventional leaves used to enrich the sloping sides of a building or arch.

Cusps. The projecting points in Gothic window and other tracery.

Dogtooth ornament. Consists of a series of pyramidal flowers of four petals in hollow mouldings (late twelfth and thirteenth century).

Escutcheon. A shield charged with armorial bearings.

Feretory. A place or chamber for the relics of saints.

Finial. A formal bunch of foliage or similar ornament at the top of a pinnacle, gable, canopy, &c.

Foil (as trefoil, quatrefoil, &c.). A leaf-shaped curve caused by the cusping or feathering in an opening or panel.

Foliated (of a capital, corbel, &c.). Carved with leaf ornament.

Frieze. A band beneath a cornice.

Groined Vault. One vault crossed at an angle by another.

Impost. The horizontal moulding on the top of a pilaster or corbel from which an arch springs.

Jambs. The sides of an archway, doorway, window, or other opening.

Joggle. Relating to the fitting of stones together.

King Post. The central vertical post in a roof truss.

Label (hoodmold, dripstone). A projecting moulding on the face of a wall above an arch.

Morse. A large clasp fastening a cope.

Mullion. A vertical post dividing a window into two or more lights.

Neck-moulding. The narrow moulding at the bottom of a capital.

Newel. The central post in a circular staircase.

Ogee. A compound curve of two parts, one convex, the other concave; a double ogee or Ressaunt is formed by two ogees meeting at their convex ends.

Oriel Window. A projecting bay window carried on corbels.

Parclose. An enclosure to protect a tomb or to separate a chapel from the main body of the church.

Parvise. The area outside the west end of a church; a chamber above a porch.

Penthouse. A projection to form a protection against the weather; a sloping roof to a main building.

Pier or Pillar. A support of an arch, &c.

Pilaster. A square column or pillar generally attached to a wall.

Piscina. A basin with a drain set in a niche south of an altar.

Plate. Horizontal timbers laid upon walls to receive other timber work; that under a roof is a wall plate.

Plinth. A square member forming the lower division of the base of a column; also the plain projecting face of a wall immediately above the ground.

Polychrome. The colouring of walls and architectural ornaments.

Poppy-head. The ornament at the heads of bench standards.

Presbytery. The part of a church in which is placed the High Altar, east of the quire; usually raised several steps.

Principals. Generally the larger rafters of a roof.

Purlin. A horizontal timber resting on the principal rafters of a roof truss.

Quoin. The dressed stones at the corners of a building.

Rebate (rabbet). A continuous rectangular notch cut on the edge of a solid.

Respond. The half pillar or pier at the end of an arcade or attached to a wall to support an arch.

Ressaunt. See Ogee.

Reveal. The side of an opening for a window, doorway, &c., between the framework and the outer surface of the wall.

Scalloped capital. A later development of the twelfth-century cushion capital.

Sedile (pl. sedilia). Seats on the south side of the chancel near the altar.

Sill (cill). The horizontal timber or stone forming the bottom of a window or doorway.

Slype. Passage from cloister, usually between transept and chapterhouse.

Soffit. The underside of an arch, &c.

Solar. An upper chamber; sometimes applied to a rood-loft in a church.

Spandrel. The triangular spaces included between the arch of a doorway, &c., and a rectangle formed by the outer mouldings over it.

Splay. The expansion given to doorways, windows, &c., by slanting the sides.

Springer. The bottom stone of an arch which lies immediately upon the impost.

Squint. An oblique opening through the wall of a church to allow a view of the altar.

Stanchion. The upright iron bars in a screen, window, &c.

Stilted arch. One which has the capital of the shaft or pier below the springing of the curve of the arch.

String or String course. A projecting horizontal band of brick or stone in a wall; usually moulded.

Toft. A homestead; a house with outbuildings.

Triforium (or blind storey). A gallery below the clerestory and between the sloping roof of the aisle and the vaulting beneath it.

Voussoirs. The stones forming an arch.


  • 1. Authorities: Royal Commission on Hist. Monuments Inventory, Herts., 1910, and Parker's Glossary.