Glossary

Aisle
Part of church alongside nave, choir, or transept set off by a row of columns
Ambulatory
Passageway located behind the altar area
Arch
A curved structure that supports the weight of material over an open space
Balustrade
A handrail, usually supported by small pillars
Buttress
A projecting structure built against a wall to support or reinforce it
Chancel
Area around the altar, usually at the eastern end and sometimes set off by a railing or screen and steps
Chapel
A room or building connected to a larger institution, dedicated to worship and special services.
Choir
The side sections of the chancel that hold pews or stalls for the choir members
Clerestory
The upper walls of the nave that rise above the roofs of the flanking aisles
Fleche
A slender spire, especially one on a church above the intersection of the nave and transept
Gallery
An upper floor at the west end that projects over the main floor
Guastavino Tile
A rough-surfaced clay tile noted for its sound-absorbing quality; was used especially in vaults in building. Named after Rafael Guastavino II of Spain.
Gothic
Applied to the architecture that flourished in France, England, Germany, and elsewhere in northern Europe between the 12th and 16th centuries. It is characterized by pointed arches, tracery windows, rib vaults, and elaborately carved decoration.
Grotesque
An artistic, decorative style or sculpture characterized by incongruous combinations of animal and human forms.
Narthex
The entrance at the west end of a church that leads to the nave
Nave
The part of the church that extends from the chancel to the principal entrance
Non-Sectarian
Not affiliated with or restricted to a particular religious group
Parapet
A low wall or protective railing along a roof or balcony
Reredos
A screen or partition wall located behind the altar
Spandrel
Either of the triangular spaces between the exterior curve of an arch and the rectangular frame or mold enclosing it
Tracery
The open work formed by the stonework at the head of a Gothic window
Transept
Any large division of a building lying across, or in a direction contrary to, the main axis
Tympanum
Recessed semicircular or triangular space over a doorway enclosed by the lintel and the arch
Vault
An arched roof, ceiling, or covering of masonry