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Maintain Your Church - Church terms
Category: Architecture and Buildings > Church building maintenance
Date & country: 16/01/2008, UK
Words: 293

A vertical feature used as a decorative finish to a spire or steeple, at the apex of a gable, or the end of the ridge of a piended roof. Finials may be made of stone, terra-cotta, wrought or cast-iron, and vary enormously in size and complexity. Related Words: Cast iron work; Gable, gabled; Ridge, ridging; Spire, spirelet; Steeple; Terra cotta; Wro …

A type of clay found in association with coal and shale which when fired is particularly resistant to heat. Fireclay was formerly used to make facing bricks, ornamental features, ridging and below-ground drainage pipes and gullies. Fireclay bricks are yellowish, or whiteish. Salt-glazed fireclay pipes and other products are shiny and brown. Relate …

A layer of sheet lead or zinc, or of roofing-felt, covering the joints or edges of a section of roof covering and a wall. Related Words: Felt (roofing); Lead; Zinc

A small spire on a roof-ridge, usually with a wooden or metal frame. If of wood, covered with lead. Sometimes used to cover a ventilator. Related Words: Spire, spirelet; Ventilator, ventilating brick, grille

The cutting of grooves, of semi-circular cross-section, in masonry, especially when this is applied to the shafts of columns in classical architecture. Related Words: Classical; Column; Masonry

One of the lobes in a Gothic window or blind opening, as in trefoil (three lobes), quatrefoil (four lobes), or cinquefoil (five lobes). Related Words: Blind (of arcades etc) ; Gothic (revival)

French drain
A trench filled with broken stone, cut round the walls of a building to prevent ground water affecting the walls. Also used of a perforated pipe in a similar setting, or behind a retaining wall.

In a classical building, a band of masonry above a portico, or a window or door opening, situated above the lintol(s). Related Words: Classical; Lintol, lintel; Masonry; Portico

A chemical preparation made to kill fungus infections, such as dry and wet rot. Related Words: Dry rot

Gable, gabled
A gable is a wall with a triangular head, built to support a pitched roof. The roof may rest on the inner side of the skews of the gable, may cover them, or may overhang them. A building with gables may be referred to as 'gabled'. Related Words: Skew, skewput

Used in two senses: 1. a small triangular projection from a wallhead, acting as a gable for a sub-roof. 2. a cope of a triangular section, designed to shed water from a wallhead or parapet. Related Words: Copes, coping; Gable, gabled; Parapet; Sub-roof; Wallhead

Galvanised mesh
A panel of steel wire in the form of a grille. The wire may be woven, or in straight lines welded where the wires cross each other - 'weldmesh'. The term 'galvanised' means that the wire has been coated with a thin layer of zinc. This coating prevents the rusting of the underlying steel. Galvanised mesh is used to protect windows from vandalism. Re …

A projection from a wallhead, originally designed to take rainwater away from the face of the wall. In many 19th century buildings gargoyles are fitted with no practical function, as rainwater is disposed of through downpipes. Related Words: Down pipe; Wallhead

Georgian architecture, built in the 18th and early 19th centuries, is generally-speaking, characterised by simplicity, with plain wall surfaces, large window openings, and careful attention to proportion, and to the relationship between architectural features. In more elaborate Georgian buildings, classical features are often employed. Roof pitches …

Georgian wired glass
Panels of glass made with steel wire mesh embedded in the thickness of the panel. The glass is usually made with a rough surface. Used in situations where the shattering of a pane would be risky, either for safety or for security, for instance in rooflights. Related Words: Steel

Gibbs surround
The ornamentation of a door or window opening by having the margins composed of boldly-projecting quoins alternating with more slightly treated and moulded quoins. A treatment devised by James Gibbs, an Aberdeen-born architect who flourished in the first half of the 18th century. Related Words: Margin; Quoins

A trade name for a beam made from small sections of wood glued together. Laminated timber beams are very strong, and are used to support the roof in many modern churches.

Gothic (revival)
The Gothic style of architecture was developed in the late 12th century AD, and is characterised by the use of pointed windows. It continued to develop until the 16th century. A few Gothic churches were built in the 17th and early 18th centuries. The style was revived - 'Gothic Revival' - in the early 19th century, and continued in use until the 19 …

A term used to describe buildings designed in the late 18th and early 19th centuries with a limited understanding of the details of 'real' mediaeval Gothic architecture. Related Words: Gothic (revival)

Graded slates
Used of roofs where the size of the slates decreases from the bottom to the top of the skews. Gives the roof a graceful finish. Often described as slates laid in 'diminishing courses'. Related Words: Skew, skewput; Slates

A dark-coloured rock common in the Southern Uplands, and used extensively in church buildings there. It cannot be dressed to a fine finish.

Ground water
The water in the ground round a building. This can simply originate in local rainfall, or can well up from adjacent, higher areas of ground. If not adequately controlled, ground water can damage a building, either by supporting wet or dry rot, or by washing away light soil under foundations.

An open-topped box, made of glazed fireclay, cast iron, or plastic, at the base of a wall, into which a downpipe discharges. The top of the gully should be covered by a perforated plate, which can be removed to allow debris to be cleared. A pipe from the side of the gully should link to a drain carrying the water away from the building. Related Wor …

The channel that catches rainwater at the edge of a roof. It can be made of cast-iron, plastic, aluminium, lead-lined timber, or stone. Also known as a rhone. Related Words: Aluminium; Cast iron work; Lead; Rhone

A term used to describe a building in which a timber frame has the spaces between the timbers filled in with brickwork or other material. In buildings constructed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries the visual effect of half-timbering was sometimes achieved by applying non-structural thin timbers to the face of a load-bearing wall.

An opening at the bottom of a downpipe, with a cover-plate. If the pipe chokes the plate can be taken off to allow the pipe to be cleared with rods. Sometimes referred to as a rodding plate. Related Words: Down pipe

Harl pointing
A form of pointing in which the mortar is spread over the surface of the masonry, leaving the central part of the stones exposed. Sometimes colloquially referred to as 'bag rubbed'. Related Words: Masonry; Mortar; Pointing

Harl, Harling
A form of render in which a mixture of cement or slaked lime and coarse sand or fine gravel is applied to (traditionally hurled at) a masonry or brick wall. For the best effect the mixture should be dashed against the wall. The hard finish obtained by the use of cement can be damaging to the underlying masonry or brickwork. Related Words: Cement, …

The lower part of an arch. Also refers to a sloping built-up shoulder of mortar to help to shed water from a right-angled junction, for instance between a chimney stack and a chimney can. Related Words: Arch

Header tank
A small cold-water tank for topping up, for instance, a central-heating system. Sometimes called an expansion tank.

High relief
Sculpture in which the front face of the figure or other image is formed in three dimensions, but the back remains attached to the stone or other background material

Hip (hipped) roof
A roof in which the wallheads are all level, that is, there are no gables. (See piended roof for photographs) Related Words: Gable, gabled; Piended roof

Hopper (window)
A part of a window, hinged along its base, which can open inwards.

Hopper head
A box to catch rainwater, mounted at the top of a downpipe. It can be made of cast-iron, lead, aluminium or plastic. Related Words: Aluminium; Cast iron work; Down pipe; Lead

Hydraulic lime
Lime made by burning limestone containing some clay, and therefore a natural cement. If mixed with water it will set quickly, even under water. There are different grades of hydraulic lime, which can be used to make mortars or renders of different degrees of hardness and water-resistance. Related Words: Lime mortar, render, limewashing; Mortar; Ren …

Indent, indenting
Indenting is the technique of cutting out a decayed stone (or brick) and replacing it with a new one. The replacement stone (or brick) should be similar chemically and in colour to the surrounding material, otherwise indenting can hasten the decay of adjacent stones or bricks.

Induction loop
A wire loop carried round a space to relay signals to hearing aids

The inner faces of a window or door opening.

Internal downpipe
A downpipe inside a building, or in the thickness of a wall, usually hidden in a duct. Related Words: Down pipe; Duct

A general name for door and window fittings, including hinges, locks and catches, handles and knobs.

Used in two senses: 1. The side of a door or window opening (also ingo). 2. A wing projecting from the body of a building. Related Words: Ingoes; Wing

The space between stones or bricks in a wall, usually filled with mortar. The term is also applied to the points at which sections of gutter, downpipe, etc meet, and to a narrow channel, filled with a flexible material) in brickwork or render to allow for expansion and contraction (an expansion joint). Related Words: Down pipe; Gutter ; Mortar

1. A horizontal beam, generally one of the beams used to support flooring or a ceiling. 2. A rolled steel beam of I section, known as a rolled steel joist (RSJ).

The topmost of the stones forming a round-headed arch, sometimes made to project from the plane of the arch. In Georgian architecture an ornamental keystone is often applied to the centre of a lintol. Related Words: Arch; Georgian; Lintol, lintel

Label stop
The name given to the lower end of a drip mould. Usually a short horizontal section of the same form as the drip mould, but sometimes a carving of a human head, a grotesque animal, or a bunch of leaves. Related Words: Drip mould

Laminated beam
A timber beam made up of relatively thin strips of wood, glued together. Much used in modern church building.

A tall, narrow, generally pointed window. The term is also applied to round-headed windows of similar proportions.

Lath and plaster
A way of finishing interior walls and ceilings, in which vertical wooden battens are fixed to a masonry or brick wall, or to ceiling joists. Closely-spaced parallel strips of wood - laths - are then nailed to the battens, and plaster applied to them. The plaster oozes out at the back of the laths, forming a key, so that when dry it does not fall aw …

A softish, heavy metal, with many applications in building. Used for covering flat or low-pitched roofs, for flashing, lining box gutters, and sometimes for rainwater hoppers and downpipes. It can also be used for ridging. If properly designed, it is an excellent material for most roofing work. Related Words: Box gutter; Down pipe; Hopper head

Leaded glass
A term used to describe glazed openings filled with glass panes set in a framework of lead cames, but where the panes do not have designs painted on them. Related Words: Cames

Light (window)
A term used in describing the major subdivisions in a traceried window, thus a two, three-light window, etc. Related Words: Tracery

Lightning conductor
A band, usually of copper, running from the top of a tower, spire or steeple to the earth at its base. In the event of a lightning strike the electric charge is conducted harmlessly to earth, avoiding damage to the building. Related Words: Copper

Lime mortar, render, limewashing
Lime is a term used to cover two compounds of the metal calcium. Quicklime is made by heating limestone or chalk, to drive off carbon dioxide. When water is added to quicklime heat is given off and it becomes slaked lime. If slaked lime is mixed with sharp sand in the right proportions it can be used to make the joints between stones or bricks, mor …

Stone formed from the skeletons of marine animals. Limestone does not occur sufficiently widely in Scotland to be used as a building stone, but was commonly 'burned' to make quicklime for lime mortar, render, etc. Related Words: Lime mortar, render, limewashing

A commercial product which has been used to coat superficially-decayed or discoloured masonry to improve its appearance. It is impervious to moisture, but if the stone behind becomes damp it can quickly rot away.

Lintol, lintel
The top member of a rectangular window, door, or other opening. Lintol is the traditional Scots building term.

Used in two senses: 1. An attic. 2. A gallery, especially one occupying an arm of a long rectangular or T-plan church. The gallery facing the pulpit in a T-plan church was often reserved for the principal landowner, or heritor, responsible for the building and for paying the stipend of the minister. It was in these circumstances known as the 'Laird …

Louvres, Louvre
Slanting boards fitted into an opening, allowing air and sound to pass through, but preventing the passage of rainwater. Commonly fitted to the belfry stages of towers and steeples. Related Words: Belfry stage; Steeple

Low relief
Used of sculpture, meaning flattened rather than fully realised. The French - 'Bas relief' - is also used. Related Words: Classical; Pilaster

A canopied opening in a spire. Related Words: Spire, spirelet

Lych gate
A covered gateway at the entrance to a churchyard.

A corbelled wall-head with the corbels linked by small arches. In 'real' machicolation there were spaces at the heads of the arches for dropping offensive materials on people attacking the wall. Later the treatment became purely decorative. Related Words: Arch; Corbel, corbel table, corbelling; Wallhead

A raised band round a window or door, or at the edge of a wall. Sometimes an indication that a building was designed to be harled. Related Words: Harl, Harling

A building trades craftsman who can work stone for inclusion in a building. For work on historic buildings a mason with experience in that field is essential.

Building fabric made of stone. Sometimes the term masonry is used in reference to brickwork, but this is an undesirable expansion of the meaning of the word.

A mixture of linseed oil with burnt sand, used to seal a wooden window or door frame to the ingoes of the masonry or brickwork opening. The flexibility of the material accommodates the different rates of expansion between timber and stone. Related Words: Brick; Ingoes; Masonry

Mechanical and electrical engineer
A professional with particular expertise in the design of environmental control and of electrical power supply. Often abbreviated to M & E engineer.

One of a series of projections under a cornice, especially in classical buildings. Related Words: Classical

Used of a roof sloping in one direction only. Popular from the late 1950s to the 1970s, and again now.

A material used to fill the gaps between stones, blocks or bricks in wall-building. It adheres to the components of the wall, creating a structural block. Traditional mortar was made with lime and sand, or clay was used as mortar. After the invention of Portland cement in the 1850s it was used as a substitute for lime, and is still used in that way …

Here used to refer to a surface fungal growth, not harmful to structure, but unsightly, and often with an unpleasant smell. Moulds can cause breathing difficulties in susceptible people. They generally grow in spaces which are not properly ventilated.

A linear ornamental feature of a building, of the same cross-section along its length.

In a masonry-framed window, a horizontal stone glazing bar. Also used for vertical stones.

Nail sickness
A condition of roof in which the nails fastening the slates to the sarking have rusted away to the extent that the slates begin to slip over a significant area. Related Words: Sarking; Slates

A covered space between the 'west door' of a church (see east) and the nave, separated from the latter by a wall. Often called a 'vestibule' in Scottish churches. Related Words: East end (liturgical) (and north, south and west); Nave

In pre-Reformation churches, the part of the worship space used by lay people. Often used for the body of a church outside the chancel area. Related Words: Chancel

A recess in the face of a wall, or a recessed opening in, for instance, a gable-head, intended to house a figure sculpture. In some Gothic Revival buildings empty niches are used as decorative features. Related Words: Gothic (revival)

A round opening, often glazed, as a window, but sometimes blind. Related Words: Blind (of arcades etc)

Ogee gutter
A cast-iron gutter, one side of which has an ogee profile. The base and the other side, are flat, and the base sits on top of a wallhead. Related Words: Cast iron work; Gutter ; Rhone; Wallhead

Ogee, ogival
A double curve, bending first one way, then the other, on either side of a vertical line.

Open joints
A term used of masonry or brickwork where the mortar between stones or bricks has eroded. Open joints are a very common reason for water penetration. Related Words: Brick; Masonry; Mortar

Organ chamber
A space, often built on to a chancel area, to accommodate a pipe organ, and often apsidal in form. Organ chambers can also be formed within the envelope of a conventional worship space. Related Words: Apse, apsidal

A name given to the exposed ends of rafters and purlins, projecting beyond the wallheads in a building with oversailing eaves. Also referred to as 'sprockets'. Related Words: Eaves, eaves band; Oversailing eaves; Rafter

Oversailing eaves
A term used to describe the overhangs in a building in which the roof overhangs the walls. It may simply overhang at the sides, or at the sides and ends.

A low wall at the edge of a roof . There is often a lead gutter behind a parapet, and sometimes a walkway. Related Words: Gutter ; Lead

A cement fillet at the edge of a roof where it abuts a skew. Related Words: Cement, cementitious; Skew, skewput

A floor surface made up of short pieces of thin wood arranged in geometrical patterns.

Usually, a triangular feature above the columns in a portico, or above a window or doorway. Sometimes the top of a pediment is curved.

Piended roof
A Scots term for a hipped roof. Related Words: Hip (hipped) roof

A low-relief pillar applied as a decoration to the face of a building. Related Words: Classical; Column; Low relief

An upright support of square cross-section.

A tall, pointed decorative feature, usually at a corner of a building, or above the top of a buttress. Related Words: Buttress

Small stones inserted into a rubble masonry wall, between larger stones. If the large stones are irregular, these stones are necessary for the stability of the wall, but sometimes square pinnings are used ornamentally, with roughly-squared large blocks. When a wall is repointed, the pinnings should be retained in place, or put back if it is necessa …

Pitched roof
A roof formed with one or more sloping surfaces. Each of these surfaces is a pitch, or skew. Related Words: Skew, skewput

A material applied to a wall-face while plastic, hardening on exposure to air. Internal plaster is generally made from gypsum (calcium sulphate) mixed with sand, but traditionally lime-based plasters were used. Ornamental plasterwork is made with hair or other fibrous material, to give it added strength. The interior walls of churches are usually e …

Plastic repairs
A term used to describe the replacement of eroded stones by a mortar-like mixture, soft when applied, hardening on exposure. Lime-based repairs of this character can be effective and durable. Related Words: Lime mortar, render, limewashing

A form of plastic material used to form valley gutters, sections of raised roof and other features traditionally made of lead, or sometimes of copper. Less durable than the metallic counterparts. Related Words: Lead; Valley, valley gutter

Platform roof
A roof with sloping sides and a central flat section, usually covered in lead. Related Words: Lead

A raised platform supporting the upper part of a building, or providing the base for a sculpture.

The application of mortar to joints in masonry or brickwork. Good pointing has to be undertaken using appropriate mortar, and a surface treatment appropriate to the type of stone or brick of which the wall is made. It should also take account of the direction in which the wall faces, and the quantity of rain expected. Related Words: Brick; Masonry …