English Medieval Architecture | The Best Examples

Here are some of the best examples of English Medieval Architecture from England’s Middle Ages.

Europe is well-known for being the home of some of the best architectural masterpieces in the world.

The historic structures that were constructed there for displays of grandeur and power influenced design the entire world over. Each building tells the story of the time period in which it was built.

The 11th – 15th centuries were the Medieval Ages in England and they saw the rise of both Romanesque and Gothic architecture, especially churches and stately buildings.

We found the greatest examples of England’s medieval architectural monuments, full of barrel vaults, arches, and colourful accents, for you to revel in and hopefully visit one day!

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey London

Westminster Abbey is one of London’s most iconic buildings. Sitting just one block away from the River Thames, this medieval cathedral boasts the highest Gothic nave in all of England.

The current building was constructed by King Henry III in the 13th century.

He had this cathedral built specifically so that he could be buried in a place fit for a king – amongst resplendent art and in a regal and record-breaking church. 16 other English monarch have been laid to rest here since Henry III.

The Abbey has also served as the main event location for many of the royal family’s ceremonies. Every coronation since 1066 and 16 royal weddings have taken place on this site – even the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

Here’s our post on this wonderful building: London Travel Guide: Westminster Abbey

Westminster Hall

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(Part of the the Palace of Westminster and Hall of Parliament)

While the Westminster Abbey serves as the home for public events, religious worship and monarchs’ final resting place, its neighboring Westminster Hall is the opposite.

Originally the private home of the English monarch after its construction in 1016, the Palace was rebuilt in 1512 after a devastating fire. It has served as the meeting place for the English legislature, the Houses of Parliament, since then.

The existing building’s construction took place from 1840-1870, and the Gothic Revival style reflects the original 11th century medieval architectural character.

The Palace Of Westminster is also home to another one of England’s greatest icons – Big Ben.

Canterbury Cathedral

canterbury cathedral

Nicknamed “England in Stone,” the Canterbury Cathedral has a rich history dating back over 1,400 years. The Romanesque church was built originally in 1040, but has seen major renovations as recently as 1834.

The stained glass windows, highly ornate cloisters, perpendicular nave, choir screen, and other decorative elements make this a picture-worthy site from any point of view.

Here’s our post >>> Canterbury Cathedral: Piety, Murder & Beauty

Dover Castle

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Once a massive defending fortress for Great Britain, the Dover Castle is a reflection of the English monarch’s fortitude and affluence.

It is known as the “Key to England” because it is strategically built on the shore of the shortest sea distance between England and the European continent.

Being the largest castle in England, it was definitely built to look impressive to anyone approaching the English isle. Impressive looks didn’t take away from its strength, though, as many battles took place here in defence of England.

Norwich Guildhall

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Unlike many of the greatest medieval architecture edifices, the Guildhall was built for secular purposes. It’s opulent medieval style was a representation of the well-off people of the town of Norwich, rather than the ruling class.

From the time it opened in 1413 until 1938, the Guildhall served as a civic building housing the city’s government operations.

Today the building serves as a tourist attraction, hosting historical reenactments by medieval knights and yarnsmiths, History Mystery Escape Games, and theatrical plays.

St. Michael’s Mount Castle

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Many legends and folklore surround the story of the origin of this fortressed island.

Some stories say that a giant is buried beneath the land that forms the island, and you can stand on a heart-shaped stone to hear his heartbeat!

The Norman style medieval castle that sits atop the small island like a crown upon a king’s head has survived many battles and attacks against England.

Whether you choose to believe the legends, or not, there’s no doubt that this site is still magical. Between the history and the legends, the architecture and artefacts remain to be brilliant examples of a decadent & turbulent medieval lifestyle.

Berkeley Castle

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The original Berkeley Castle belonged to the Roger de Berkeley (pronounced Barkley) family.

One of the most unique facts about it is that the family that built it still owns it, and they are the only English family that can trace their lineage back over 850 years to the Saxon era. Aside from strong familial ties, this castle also served as a defensive structure for England under King Henry II.

It was once captured by enemies during the English Civil War, which resulted in the destruction of some of its medieval architectural features. When visitors explore the site today, though, they can feel transported back to the time of Norman architecture grandeur.

The White Tower

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The longstanding strongest point of the Tower of London, The White Tower was once the safest tower in the capital of England. It is a perfect representation of the medieval Norman architecture style.

Being that it was built for the royals, it was also fit to house a king. It has seen many changes over the years, including additions and demolition around the premises and inside the building.

Most notably, King Henry III ordered the tower to be whitewashed inside and out, hence giving it its name. Today, the White Tower is a top World Heritage site.

Visitors can tour the White Tower’s beautiful Romanesque chapel, see the Royal Armouries collection, and even see the block and axe used in beheadings at this revered royal castle and tower.

Rievaulx Abbey

Rievaulx Abbey

Beautiful ruins showcasing medieval architecture features are all that remain of the Rievaulx Abbey.

Originally established by monks as a Cistercian monastery, King Henry VIII contributed to the demise of this beautiful complex of buildings when he had it stripped of valuable

His reasoning for what we would consider an appalling treatment of such a historic site was to gain money and impose the Christian faith.

This era came to be known as the Suppression of Monasteries. Despite the building being in ruins, it is a popular tourist attraction for those exploring England because its medieval architectural charm remains intact.

York Minster

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Holding records such as “second largest Gothic cathedral of Northern Europe” and having the “largest expanse of medieval stained glass in the world” clearly sets the stage for why York Minster made this list.

While York Minster still operates as a church today, it is also a haven for tourists.

Visitors can view centuries old artifacts, take a hidden tour, bring the kids along to explore, and even climb to the top of the central tower and view the surrounding city and countryside.

This monumental building has stood the test of time and change. It has remained to be a church, and it also has become an entertaining and educational cultural landmark.

Here our post on this gorgeous York building: York Minster

The medieval era definitely left its mark all over England with the beautiful Romanesque and Gothic structures that we protect and love to this day. From shore to shore, and even on smaller islands, the Norman medieval influence prevails.

Which of England’s top medieval buildings is now on your travel bucket list?