The great angel roof of Westminster Hall, London, erected for Richard II in 1395-1396, remains the consummate achievement in medieval open-timber roofs. The framing, which has an exceptional single span just over 67 feet, is a multitiered construction that combines two major truss types: the hammer beam, and the arch-brace-and-collar roof. The architectural background of the Westminster Hall roof has generally been confined to precursors of the hammer beams that visually dominate the interior and are certainly a major aesthetic if not structural element. When the prominent role of the arch-brace and related decorative detail are recognized, however, a different set of prototypes emerges, principally the chapel at New College and the great hall at Windsor, whose connection with Westminster Hall is more immediate and compelling because of the documented relationships between patrons, craftsmen, and court. Finally, the interaction between late-14th-century carpentry and masonry charts a shift in stylistic values that is critical to understanding English Late Gothic.
- Copyright 1984 The Society of Architectural Historians