stage 2. Recording features

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Additional information for using the checklist

Remember to use the glossary for preferred terms. Below each architectural feature is treated separately, approximately following the order of the checklist.

Obviously, if you can describe a doorway you will have no trouble with a window: similarly chancel arches, crossing arches and tower arches are all recorded in similar ways. I have therefore given guidance only to recording a few key features of representative forms which I have found problematic. These come down to the following: doorways, string courses, corbel tables, reset fragments, chancel arches, arcades, blind arcades and fonts.



1. Preliminary notes

a. Note location in building.

b. Is it in its original position or is it reset?

c. Note general shape (e.g. round-headed) & whether it has

   a tympanum and lintel.

d. Note number of orders.


2. Detailed description

a. If there is a tympanum, describe this and its lintel first. Note whether they are single slabs or fabricated from several pieces.

b. Describe each order separately, beginning with the inner (1st order) and ending with the label. For each order, start from the ground and work upwards. Describe bases, if present, noting type (e.g. attic) and any spurs or other ornamentation. If bases are absent, note this: it may indicate that the pavement has been raised.

Note whether nook-shafts are engaged or detached, coursed or en-delit, and any ornamentation. Describe form and decoration of capitals, neckings & imposts. Describe profile of archivolt, and decoration on face and soffit. For the label, describe the profile and any decoration, label-stops or apical ornament.

c. Note any restoration work, e.g. replacement capitals, insertions or retooling.

d. Look for signs of polychroming.

e. Note type of stone if you are able.


3. Measurements

a. Width & height of opening. Note here whether there is evidence of a change in sill level (e.g. if the bases are wholly or partly covered). If so, try to estimate the original height as well.

b. If there is a tympanum & lintel, measure width, height & thickness (if possible) of each.


4. Photography

a. General view.

b. Tympanum and lintel (if any).

c. Detail of each capital, to show both faces.

d. Detail of archivolt, if carved. If there is a repeating motif, like chevron, photograph the entire archivolt. For archivolts carved with a variety of motifs record all the voussoirs in groups of 2 or 3. Make sure the soffits are photographed if these are carved as well as the faces.

e. Other significant details, as you see fit, e.g. details of carved label stops, jambs, apical heads or spandrel decoration.


String courses

1. On-site notes

Note position in building, whether reset. Describe decoration.


2. Measurements

Measure (or gauge) height above ground, and total length and height if possible.


3. Photography

a. General view (to show position & extent of string course).

b. One or more details of decoration.



1. On-site notes

Note position and extent of corbel table. Number each corbel. It is important that we all use the same system of numbering. In general we should go clockwise round the building, starting from the E, but describe features from L to R.  E.g. for a corbel table around a tower, describe the E face first, beginning at the SE corner. If there is a corbel on the angle, call it "SE corner", then number corbels E1, E2 etc. from L to R along the E face. Move clockwise around the tower to the S face, describing "SW corner", then S1, S2 etc., from L to R. Describe the W face next, and finally the N face.

   Write a brief description of each corbel, noting where identical designs recur (e.g. N5, as E3).


2. Measurements

  These are usually impossible.


3. Photography

Try to record corbels in groups of 3-4, using a telephoto lens and ensuring that you record them all. The E face is usually difficult because the church gets in the way, but it is generally possible to find viewpoints for photographing all the corbels.


4. Note on entries

The following example is taken from my entry on Sutton Courtenay, Berks:


c. Corbel table

A corbel table running around all four faces of the tower at the top of the 2nd storey marks the top of the 12th-century tower. There are 41 corbels, all carved, 4 at each corner clasping the angle, 9 on E, W and N faces and 10 on S. The spacing of the corbels is extremely uneven.


SE corner: Foliate, possibly waterleaf below an upright moulding.

E1: Below an upright moulding, a large cavetto holding a roll centrally placed and approximately half the width of the corbel. A flat chamfer runs from the ends of the roll to the left and right edges of the corbel, giving the appearance of a roll on top of a truncated pyramid.

E2: Below an upright moulding, a large cavetto, chamfered as E1, holding a smaller cavetto centrally placed and approximately half the width of the corbel.

E3: As E2.

E4: As E1.

E5: Upright above chamfer with horizontal roll.

E6: As E5.

E7: As E2.

E8: As E2.

E9: Badly weathered.


SW corner: On each face, a truncated pyramid with 5 billets superimposed, as on a die.

S1: The single form of SW corner.

S2: As E5.

S3: As E1.



Reset fragments

1. On-site notes

a. Note type of fragment, if possible, e.g. voussoir.

b. Note position of fragment in fabric. If possible, measure distance from nearest corner and height above ground, otherwise estimate if it is possible to do so reasonably accurately (counting courses is useful, if they are fairly regular). E.g. N wall of chancel, 1.60m (approx.) E of junction with nave, 4m (approx.) above ground.

c. Record date of wall it is now set into.

d. Describe shape and decoration of fragment.

e. Measure, at least max. length & width if it is accessible. Otherwise, estimate only if you can do it reasonably accurately


2. Photography

Include a view to show the position of the stone in the fabric, as well as a close-up of the stone itself.


3. A note on entries

a. Reset fragments should be treated as miscellaneous decoration, and reported in your entries under section III.3.d (if they are on the exterior of the building) or IV.5.c. (if they are inside).


b. Make it clear if your dimensions are estimates by putting (approx) after them.


c. Use section VIII (COMMENTS/OPINIONS) for any ideas you may have about the original location of the fragments.


Chancel arches

1. Preliminary notes

a. Note general shape (round-headed, pointed, depressed).

b. Note number of orders on E & W faces.


2. Detailed description

a. Describe the inner (1st) order first, beginning with the bases and working upwards.

b. Describe all subsequent orders on E face, following pattern described under doorways above, then describe W face in the same way.

c. Note any restoration work, e.g. replacement capitals, insertions or retooling.

d. Look for signs of polychroming.

e. Note type of stone if you are able.


3. Measurements

No measurements are required.


4. Photographs

a.  General views of entire arch (floor to apex) from E & W if possible. In practice a view to E will normally be obtainable, perhaps with a wide-angle lens, but many chancels are not long enough for a general view to W. In such cases, take a couple of photographs which cover the entire area of sculptural decoration between them.

b.  Details of capitals to show all carved faces.

c.  General views of archivolts on E & W (if they are carved).

d.  Such other details as you see fit, especially groups of carved voussoirs.


5. A note on layout of entries

 The 1st order of a chancel arch belongs to both E & W faces of the arch. When you come to write your entry, lay it out as follows:


  1. Arches

    a. Chancel arch, 2 orders to W, 1 to E, depressed arch:


1st order (shared): description

2nd order (W face): description



1. On-site notes

For each arcade, number piers & bays beginning at the crossing (or the junction between nave & chancel if there is no crossing). For example, a 3-bay nave arcade running between responds on the E & W nave walls, will have, starting at the E, E respond, bay 1, pier 1, bay 2, pier 2, bay 3, W respond.

  Note number of bays & number of orders on each side of the arcade. Describe the side facing the central vessel first.

  Note type of bases, and describe each pier & respond. Describe capitals and imposts for each pier & respond. Describe orders as for chancel arches, and make a note of any other decoration, e.g. in the spandrels.

   Make a note of any restoration or retooling.


2. Measurements

No measurements are required.


3. Photography

a. General view to include the whole arcade if possible.

b. Details of each capital, or, if several are identical, of each type of capital.

c. Details of the arches, if they are carved, including any soffit decoration.

d. Other sculptural details as applicable, e.g. spandrel decoration, label stops.


Blind arcades

1. On-site notes

Note position in building. Note number of bays, shape of arches and number of orders. Sketch the arcade and assign numbers to the supports and the bays, numbering from the crossing outwards (i.e. E to W in the nave, W to E in the chancel, N to S in the S transept etc.).

   Describe any plinth, then bases, supports, capitals, imposts, archivolt as for doorways. If there are capitals of several types, describe each type and note which supports they appear on.


2. Measurements

Height of bays (soffit of arch to plinth/floor)

Average width of bay, between capital centres, NOT width of opening. Note any significant deviations.


3. Photography

a. One or more general views (to show extent of blind arcade).

b. View of 1 or 2 bays (to show general structure).

c. Details of capitals (to show all capital types represented).

d. Other details at your discretion, e.g. archivolts, if they are carved.



1. On-site notes

Note position of font in the building.

Take the font-cover off.

Describe the type of stone as accurately as you can.

Note general shape of font bowl.

Describe the base on which it stands. If the base is post-medieval, as so many are, note the fact but don't describe the base in any detail. Square bowled or polygonal fonts usually stand on a heavy central pillar with slender shafts supporting the corners. Note if any of the shafts appear to be replacements.  Describe the bowl. For bowls with figures under arcading, you will need to number the bays. In this case, begin at the E and work clockwise. Describe any carving on the upper face of the bowl. Note any restoration work: inserts and recutting are fairly common.  Notice especially signs of the removal of a lock. The practice of providing fonts with lockable covers to guard against misuse of holy water began as early as the 13c in England, but I do not know of any locks that survive.  Lead linings should also be noted.


2. Measurements

a. Overall height of font (if all parts are original)

b. Height of bowl.

c. Internal diameter of bowl.

Then, either:

d. External diameter of bowl at top (for a tub-, drum-, or chalice-shaped font).


d'. Width of bowl from E-W and from N-S (for a square or rectangular font)


d''. Width of bowl from face centre to face centre (for a polygonal font).



a. As many general views as you need to show the appearance of the font. In some cases one view will be sufficient, but when choosing this, take account of the state of preservation of the carving on each side as well as ease of access.

b. Details as necessary, not forgetting the upper surface, if it is carved.


Don't forget to put the cover back.