Last updated
Fleche of Sainte-Chapelle, Ile de la Cite, designed by Jean-Baptiste Lassus. Clocher de la Sainte-Chapelle.JPG
Flèche of Sainte-Chapelle, Île de la Cité, designed by Jean-Baptiste Lassus.
Notre-Dame de Paris with its 19th century fleche, lost to fire in 2019. Notre Dame de Paris Est side.jpg
Notre-Dame de Paris with its 19th century flèche, lost to fire in 2019.
Fleche of St Michael's Castle, St Petersburg, designed by Vasily Bazhenov. Mikhailovskii (Inzhenernyi) zamok, Bashnia tserkvi.jpg
Flèche of St Michael's Castle, St Petersburg, designed by Vasily Bazhenov.
Model of the fleche of Notre-Dame de Paris made for Eugene Viollet-le-Duc (1859) (Museum of Historic Monuments, Paris) Maquette de la charpente de la fleche de la cathedrale Notre-Dame de Paris.jpg
Model of the flèche of Notre-Dame de Paris made for Eugene Viollet-le-Duc (1859) (Museum of Historic Monuments, Paris)

A flèche (French : flèche, lit.  'arrow' [3] ) is the name given to spires in Gothic architecture: in French the word is applied to any spire, but in English it has the technical meaning of a spirelet or spike on the rooftop of a building. [4] [5] In particular, the spirelets often built atop the crossings of major churches in mediaeval French Gothic architecture are called flèches. [5]

On the ridge of the roof on top of the crossing (the intersection of the nave and the transepts) of a church, flèches were typically light, delicate, timber-framed constructions with a metallic sheath of lead or copper. [6] They are often richly decorated with architectural and sculptural embellishments: tracery, crockets, and miniature buttress es serve to adorn the flèche. [6]

Flèches are often very tall: the Gothic Revival spire of Notre-Dame de Paris (18582019) by Eugène Viollet-le-Duc was about 100 feet (30 m) before its destruction in the Notre-Dame de Paris fire, while the 16th century flèche of Amiens Cathedral is 148 feet (45 m) high. [6]

The highest flèche in the world was built at the end of the 19th century for Rouen Cathedral, 157 metres (515 ft) high in total.[ citation needed ]

A short spire or flèche surrounded by a parapet is common on churches in Hertfordshire; as a result this type of flèche is called a Hertfordshire spike. [7]

See also


  1. Curl, James Stevens; Wilson, Susan, eds. (2015), "Lassus, Jean-Baptiste-Antoine", A Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (3rd ed.), Oxford University Press, doi:10.1093/acref/9780199674985.001.0001/acref-9780199674985-e-2613, ISBN   978-0-19-967498-5 , retrieved 2020-05-27
  2. Curl, James Stevens; Wilson, Susan, eds. (2015), "Bazhenov, Vasily Ivanovich", A Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (3rd ed.), Oxford University Press, doi:10.1093/acref/9780199674985.001.0001/acref-9780199674985-e-476, ISBN   978-0-19-967498-5 , retrieved 2020-05-27
  3. "Definition of Spirelet". collinsdictionary.com. Retrieved 2020-05-21.
  4. Curl, James Stevens; Wilson, Susan, eds. (2015), "spire", A Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (3rd ed.), Oxford University Press, doi:10.1093/acref/9780199674985.001.0001/acref-9780199674985-e-4392, ISBN   978-0-19-967498-5 , retrieved 2020-05-27
  5. 1 2 Curl, James Stevens; Wilson, Susan, eds. (2015), "flèche", A Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (3rd ed.), Oxford University Press, doi:10.1093/acref/9780199674985.001.0001/acref-9780199674985-e-1827, ISBN   978-0-19-967498-5 , retrieved 2020-05-27
  6. 1 2 3 "Flèche | architecture". Britannica.com. Retrieved 2017-12-14.
  7. Curl, James Stevens; Wilson, Susan, eds. (2015), "Hertfordshire spike", A Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (3rd ed.), Oxford University Press, doi:10.1093/acref/9780199674985.001.0001/acref-9780199674985-e-2249, ISBN   978-0-19-967498-5 , retrieved 2020-05-27

Related Research Articles

Gothic architecture Architectural style of Medieval Europe

Gothic architecture is an architectural style that was particularly popular in Europe from the late 12th century to the 16th century, during the High and Late Middle Ages, surviving into the 17th and 18th centuries in some areas. It evolved from Romanesque architecture and was succeeded by Renaissance architecture. It originated in the Île-de-France region of northern France as a development of Norman architecture. The style at the time was sometimes known as opus Francigenum ; the term Gothic was first applied contemptuously during the later Renaissance, by those ambitious to revive the Grecian orders of architecture.

Basilica Type of building in classical and church architecture

In Ancient Roman architecture, a basilica is a large public building with multiple functions, typically built alongside the town's forum. The basilica was in the Latin West equivalent to a stoa in the Greek East. The building gave its name to the architectural form of the basilica.

Spire Structure on top of a roof or tower

A spire is a tall, slender, pointed structure on top of a roof or tower, especially at the summit of church steeples. A spire may have a square, circular, or polygonal plan, with a roughly conical or pyramidal shape. Spires are typically built of stonework or brickwork, or else of timber structure with metal cladding, ceramic tiling, shingles, or slates on the exterior.

Architecture of England Architectural styles of modern England and the historic Kingdom of England

The architecture of England is the architecture of modern England and in the historic Kingdom of England. It often includes buildings created under English influence or by English architects in other parts of the world, particularly in the English and later British colonies and Empire, which developed into the Commonwealth of Nations.

Tracery Type of window design

Tracery is an architectural device by which windows are divided into sections of various proportions by stone bars or ribs of moulding. Most commonly, it refers to the stonework elements that support the glass in a window. The term probably derives from the tracing floors on which the complex patterns of windows were laid out in late Gothic architecture. Tracery can also be found on the interior of buildings and the exterior.

Kings College Chapel, Cambridge Church at Kings College, Cambridge

King's College Chapel is the chapel of King's College in the University of Cambridge. It is considered one of the finest examples of late Perpendicular Gothic English architecture. The Chapel was built in phases by a succession of kings of England from 1446 to 1515, a period which spanned the Wars of the Roses and three subsequent decades. The Chapel's large stained glass windows were completed by 1531, and its early Renaissance rood screen was erected in 1532–36. The Chapel is an active house of worship, and home of the King's College Choir. It is a landmark and a commonly used symbol of the city of Cambridge.

Flamboyant Florid style of late Gothic architecture

Flamboyant is a form of late Gothic architecture that developed in Europe in the Late Middle Ages and Renaissance, from around 1375 to the mid-16th century. It is characterized by double curves forming flame-like shapes in the bar-tracery, which give the style its name; by the multiplication of ornamental ribs in the vaults; and by the use of use of the arch in accolade. Ribs in Flamboyant tracery are recognizable by their flowing forms, which are influenced by the earlier curvilinear tracery of the Second Gothic styles. Very tall and narrow pointed arches and gables, particularly double-curved ogee arches, are common in buildings of the Flamboyant style. In most regions of Europe, Late Gothic styles like Flamboyant replaced the earlier Rayonnant style and other early variations.

William of Sens

William of Sens or Guillaume de Sens was a 12th-century French master mason and architect, believed to have been born at Sens, France. He is known for rebuilding the choir of Canterbury Cathedral between 1174 and 1177, counted first important example of the Early Gothic Style of architecture in England, finished in 1184. Before Canterbury, he worked on Sens Cathedral. According to one English source, he died at Canterbury on 11 August 1180. According to other sources, he died in France, after returning from England.

English Gothic architecture Architectural style in Britain

English Gothic is an architectural style that flourished from the late 12th until the mid-17th century. The style was most prominently used in the construction of cathedrals and churches. Gothic architecture's defining features are pointed arches, rib vaults, buttresses, and extensive use of stained glass. Combined, these features allowed the creation of buildings of unprecedented height and grandeur, filled with light from large stained glass windows. Important examples include Westminster Abbey, Canterbury Cathedral and Salisbury Cathedral. The Gothic style endured in England much longer than in Continental Europe.

Bengal Engineer Group

The Bengal Engineer Group (BEG) is a military engineering regiment in the Corps of Engineers of the Indian Army. The unit was originally part of the Bengal Army of the East India Company's Bengal Presidency, and subsequently part of the British Indian Army during the British Raj. The Bengal Sappers are stationed at Roorkee Cantonment in Roorkee, Uttarakhand.

Fantastic architecture is an architectural style featuring attention-grabbing buildings. Such buildings can be considered as works of art, and are normally built purely for the amusement of its owner. Architects that employed this style include Antoni Gaudí, Bruno Taut, and Hans Poelzig.

Licinius II Roman emperor

Licinius II, also called Licinius Junior and Licinius Caesar, was the son of the Roman emperor Licinius I. He held the imperial rank of caesar between March 317 and September 324, while his father was augustus, and he was twice Roman consul. After losing a civil war, his father lost power and both he and Licinius the Younger were eventually put to death.

William de Ramsey

William de Ramsey was an English Gothic master mason and architect who worked on and likely designed the two earliest buildings of the Perpendicular style of Gothic architecture. William Ramsey was likely an inventor of the Perpendicular style which was to dominate Gothic architecture in England for three centuries "and, if so, he was one of the most influential architects England has ever produced".

Reginald Ely

Reginald Ely or Reynold of Ely was an English master mason and architect working in Gothic architecture in the Kingdom of England in the 15th century. He "must be regarded as one of the greatest C15 English architects" for his contribution to King's College Chapel, Cambridge - one of the most salient examples of the Perpendicular style which characterized the 14th–17th centuries of English Gothic architecture.

Edwin Alfred Rickards (1872–1920) was an English architect.

Elizabeth Anne Livingstone, also known as E. A. Livingstone, is an English Anglican theologian, specialising in patristics.

Hertfordshire spike Type of short spire or flèche

A Hertfordshire spike is a type of short spire or flèche found on church-towers surrounded by a parapet. It is defined in the Buildings of England as a "flèche or short spire rising from a church-tower, its base concealed by a parapet". As the name suggests, it is common in Hertfordshire, but the same type of structure can be found in other English counties. The Church of St Mary the Virgin, Wendens Ambo, is a good example in Essex, and in Buckinghamshire is St Mary the Virgin, Ivinghoe.

John de Ramsey English Gothic architect (fl. c.1304–1349)

John de Ramsey was an English master mason and architect working in Gothic architecture in the Kingdom of England in the 14th century. He was Master of the Works at Norwich Cathedral in 1304, at which time a new detached belfry was under construction. It is possible that he designed the southern sections of the cathedral cloisters at Norwich, which he worked on between 1324 and 1330. At Ely, Cambridgeshire he was likely in charge of the Ely Cathedral's construction between about 1322 and 1326. John was also probably a sculptor. John de Ramsey was the son of Richard Curteys, likely the same Richard as Richard le Machun who was himself a mason at Norwich Cathedral (1285–90). In later life he appears to have been in London, where his son William de Ramsey was instrumental in the innovations of Perpendicular Gothic architecture.

William Nairn Forbes British architect and military engineer

Major-General William Nairn Forbes was a British architect and military engineer in the Bengal Army. He was responsible for the design of the Anglican St Paul's Church, Calcutta (1839–47) in Bengal during Company rule in India, now the cathedral of the Diocese of Calcutta and sited in Kolkata, India.

Perpendicular Gothic Third historical division of English Gothic architecture

Perpendicular Gothic architecture was the third and final style of English Gothic architecture developed in the Kingdom of England during the Late Middle Ages, typified by large windows, four-centred arches, straight vertical and horizontal lines in the tracery, and regular arch-topped rectangular panelling. Perpendicular was the prevailing style of Late Gothic architecture in England from the 14th century to the 17th century. Perpendicular was unique to the country: no equivalent arose in Continental Europe or elsewhere in the British Isles. Of all the Gothic architectural styles, Perpendicular was the first to experience a second wave of popularity from the 18th century on in Gothic Revival architecture.