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Problems With Dating St Mary Redcliffe Church

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What Problems do we face in deciding when the church was built Deciding when the church was built has been a massive challenge for many historians because there is a massive amount of evidence and throughout that evidence there is a lot of contradiction. Types of evidence were historical maps, Brakspeare's book, style sheets showing how buildings were styled at certain times in history and looking at the building itself. There is also some extra contextual information like what was going on at the time like puritans. Problems with these sources were very big, making them not completely reliable. Brakspeare's work led to a book which gave exact years of when certain parts of the church were built, however these dates were not backed up with enough evidence to make them completely reliable meaning it is very hard to trust it. Style sheets showed some contradiction on when certain periods started and ended making it very hard to get exact dates of when a part of the church was built by looking at these style sheets. Maps made during this time also showed little or no scale and had some confusing elements to it like the fact that many were drawn as art so there were added pictures to make the map nicer and doing that made it a difficult source of evidence. ...read more.


The inner north porch, I infer, was built in the Early English style (1150-1250 or 1200-1300) this is because that the walls ceilings and archways remain mainly undecorated but are arched or curved unlike the Norman style(1066-1150 or 1066-1200) which is mainly straight and undecorated. The same problem of statues being taken away is evident within the inner north porch but also the fact that the entrance is very decorated which would be built during the decorated period (1250-1350 or 1300-1400) it contains exquisite floral patterns and other awesome designs. Brakspeare also adds to problems of dating the church by being very vague and dating the inner north porch as not a day later than 1190 which seems confusing as the entrance is dated by the style sheets as 200 years later. There is also evidence of renovation in the porch as the ceiling has been repainted and there are missing statues because of the puritans which changes the style of the porch making the style sheets less reliable. The south porch is a mixture of two different styles from two different periods; the decorated period (1250-1350 or 1300-1400) and the perpendicular period (1350-1550 or 1400-1500) which presents as the first problem as it may be two different designers who built the church as a myth goes which says that one designer died in the black death and another designer stepped in to finish or whether it was just built as the style changed so the designer changed ideas. ...read more.


According to books this could be because gargoyles were meant to warn away evil spirits so many people paid to have gargoyles added to their own buildings to keep them safe and that is what seems to have happened with the Tower and other parts of the church. Brakspeare dates the tower within the year 1230 however as this falls within the Early English era it seems that the kind of architecture seen in the higher parts of the tower would not have been available or possible to do. This makes Brakspeare's dates very hard to believe. It is possible 1230 is the starting date but it would have to be finished at least 100 years later. Also the Bristol Merchants who owned Redcliffe Church built up the south porch to rival the Merchants who owned Bristol cathedral and this became a battle for a long time and involved massive renovation to many parts of Redcliffe Church. So overall dating Redcliffe Church seems like almost an impossible task with Brakspeare's writing proving very vague and he definitely got some dates wrong, also interpreting contradicting style sheets with each part of the church proved very hard and there were even social groups which made caused problems in dating the church with puritans taking statues away and Merchants adding more and more to the buildings. So the title is 'What Problems do we face in deciding when the church was built?' Well answering that in one word I would say 'many'! ...read more.

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