The Attic (a name which commemorates our first physical location) is, first and foremost, a site for the research students of the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester: a virtual community which aims to include all students, be they campus-based and full-time, or distance-learning and overseas. But we welcome contributions from students of museum studies - and allied subject areas - from outside the School and from around the world. Here you will find a lot of serious stuff, like exhibition and research seminar reviews, conference alerts and calls for papers, but there's also some 'fluff'; the things that inspire, distract and keep us going. After all, while we may be dead serious academic types, we're human too.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

An Appeal to Architects and Ecclesiastical Historians

I have a question, and it is going to sound mad. However, it's been bothing me, and as stupid as it might sound I really have to get it off my chest. It's this

How the heck do church towers stay up?

More specifically, I suppose, I'd be really interested to learn about their construction. They're immense pillars of stone, and it is amazing to me that they should stand at all. They must rest on some kind of foundation, but what?

Please help. Some of you might know. Or be able to direct me to some books on ecclesiastical architecture which will help. I've searched on google for 'church tower' and 'church tower architecture' but have come up with little more information than 'Churches have towers. They are big.'

Sorry for the invasion of silly questions.

5 comments:

Amy said...

I think it has something to do with physics and 'forces'. And that's the sum of my knowledge, I'm afraid.

Luggage said...

Struts, butresses and hidden support? Chesterfield's spire is twisted due to the wooden supports warping inside. There is Salisbury catherdral which is a total mystery as it is built on a bog and I have no idea how that would stay up!

Mike Simpson said...

The smaller ones stand up by themselves just like any building does, helped by being attached on one side to a lower building. The larger ones use things called 'flying buttresses' which displace the weight of the stone down through columns around the outside of the church.

Stephanie said...

I don't know if this helps at all, but this construction company work on steeples, and have lots of diagrams of the supporting timber structures and such. They also have contact details, so it might be worth asking them!

http://www.timberstructures.net/special-roof-construction.html

Jenny said...

Oh, thanks guys! It's quite helpful to hear this. I'm guessing that it varies from church to church, is rather site specific, really - like you say, Luggage, Salisbury is a particular mystery.

Interesting. Thanks for the link, Steph, I'll check that out!