Sens
(Yonne, France)
Cathedral of Saint-ìČtienne
Surveyed: 1972-74, 1980-83, 2003, 2015
This is an experimental section where John James is attempting to identify the carvers though the use of common templates and/or a recognisable manners of carving. Such a large-scale analysis of all the capitals in these buildings has not been attempted before. As an ongoing enterprise that is still in its infancy, we seek your input. John believes this has the potential to increase our understanding of how they worked and to provide a more solid basis for dating than we have had.
The size and consistency shows that all bases for the walls and piers were laid down at the one time, from east to penultimate pier 13 in the west; this included the lateral chapels; afterwards average rate of construction across the site seems to have been in the order of 5 or so courses per year.
Choir and north chapel dado capitals; rebuilding has eliminated the evidence for how far this stage of the work was continued to the west; and very wide windows around the ambulatory.
This is a test
Ambulatory pier capitals for groin vaults
A temporary roof may have been erected at this level to cover the eastern choir; the wooden stalls were built under this and on his death Bishop Henry was interred in the choir in 1144.
Nave dado probably in more than one campaign
The four choir piers from today's crossing to the east; from the style of the capitals continued into the nave to piers 6; once the aisle vaults were completed this huge undertaking would be sufficient to support all future stages in the gallery and clerestory.
From the style of the capitals the same crew working in the choir continued into the nave to pier 6, leaving only the piers under the towers to be finished later; ten piers (plus one in the centre transept).
The continuation of corbels to support the aisle ribs from the ambulatory to the doubleau of the 6th pier west of the crossing shows the extent of the work when it was decided to use rib vaults; that the smaller corbels of this phase sit over the capitals of both Phases 1 and 2 of the southern choir aisle capitals shows how far the works had proceeded before this decision was made; the corbels in the choir are smaller than those in the nave and have an additional larger course between it and the rib.
The corbels in the nave to the doubleau of the 6th pier; these sit over the capitals of Phase 2; in the west side of the 6th aisle pier the style of the formeret capital and the corbels show this to have been part of the later works in the west; whatever had been constructed on the south wall was replaced after the collapse.
Walling over arcade arches and choir gallery walkway
Choir clerestory capitals
Install the first flyers 1-7 and roof in place immediately afterwards.
Choir wall above flyers 1-7 for domical vault form.
Roof cornice with details like those in Canterbury by William of Sens.
Nave arcade capitals 6-8.
West portals begun with western nave bay,
Western nave aisle capitals
Nave-mid clerestory flyers
Probably after the fire of 1184; as portal joints mismatched probably carved in shed before it was needed
Eastern nave vaults and flyers 8-12
West aisle bays to gallery
Tower rooms in the one campaign


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