The vault of Exeter Cathedral’s nave

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The vault of Exeter Cathedral’s nave

The Cathedral nave was provided with its stone vault in the years c. 1335-42 (it was once mistakenly believed to be of rather later date). It is a ribbed tierceron vault of great richness, with thirteen ribs springing from each vaulting cone; essentially, however, it simply continued the style of that built 40 years earlier in the choir.

By this time other masons in the West Country were developing lierne vaults which further enriched vault design by introducing a net of subsidiary ribs. The master mason responsible for Exeter’s vault, Thomas of Witney, had been in the forefront of these developments to the years c. 1315-30, but must have felt that more was to be gained in the nave by following the older design in the choir.

The ribs of the vault are of white limestone from Beer in South Devon, the webs (in-filling panels between them) of purple volcanic lava from the Exe Valley. It was formerly plastered.

Acknowledgments: Exeter Archaeology