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  • Print publication year: 2012
  • Online publication date: April 2013

163 - Constantine and Helena: The Roman in English Romanesque

from Authors and Intentions


The isle is full of noises, sounds and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not …

(The Tempest, III.ii.140–41)

IT IS READILY OBSERVED that people take their architecture with them. In the process of colonizing North America, unmistakably northern European styles and techniques of building were transported across the Atlantic. Further south, it was the architectural traditions of the Iberian Peninsula that were exported to Latin America. We can interpret this as a desire on the part of the emigrants involved to make a new home by replicating the essentials of their old one, or (less cosily) to imprint their culture on recently acquired territory. The two motives are clearly not mutually exclusive, and though they do not appear to sit very comfortably together it can be argued that familiarity and control are two sides of one coin. That said, it is rarely the case that the architecture of a colony is exactly like that of the homeland, and one purpose of this essay is to explore why that might be so in the case of two major buildings constructed in England in the aftermath of the Norman invasion of 1066: Colchester Castle and Lincoln Cathedral. Two points will emerge, of which one is the possible impact of ‘deep’ history, particularly the Roman past, on Anglo-Norman architecture. The other is that we may understand more about the motivations of the patrons and designers of these monuments by an oblique approach to their decision-making processes than by any that can be directly documented.