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Is There a Difference Between a Spire and a Steeple?

FAQs Jackson Bowman August 1, 2022

These three words mean a tall building standing over the main building; but, that steeple, is more common; those of spire and tower, in particular. steeple implies the spire of a church; be it in whatever form. A spire is a church tower that tapers towards the top.

What is a steeple and spire?

Illustrated Dictionary of Architecture

Steeple. A tall ornamental structure, usually culminating in a spire, surmounting the spire of a church or other public building. A spire is a tall, pointed pyramidal structure surmounting a steeple or spire.

What is a spire on top of a church?

The spire originated in the 12th century as a simple, four-sided pyramidal roof, generally abrupt and stunted, covering a steeple. Its history is an evolution towards slimmer, taller forms and a more organic relationship with the tower below.

What is the spire of a church called?

In architecture, a steeple is a tall tower on top of a building, topped by a spire and often containing a bell tower and other components. Towers are very common in Christian churches and cathedrals and the use of the term generally indicates a religious structure.

What counts as a spire?

A spire is a tall, slender, pointed structure on top of a roof or tower, especially the top of church steeples. A tower can be square, circular, or polygonal in plan, with a roughly conical or pyramidal shape.

Why do some churches have Spires and some towers?

A tower or spire indicates the location of a church, and many of these appear to have been built in the late Middle Ages to the glory of God as a result of community fundraising or individual donations. Adding a tower or spire was impressive, but also a very expensive affair.

What was steeple originally called?

“Steeple”, which first appeared in Old English as “stepel” or stypel, came from exactly the same root (“staup”) as “steep”, but had assumed its specialization meaning (in of the form “staupil”) a little further downstream.

Why do churches have steeples and spires?

The use of spiers and towers on Christian church buildings became a common feature around the eighth century. Towers symbolically pointed to the sky. Early spiers in churches were also a symbol that the prayers of church members would ascend to heaven.

Why do some churches not have spires?

Answer: There used to be wooden spikes on square church towers. In rural areas, these were damaged or collapsed and were never repaired, whereas a stone or flint tower would survive longer.

What is the purpose of a spire?

The spire could serve as a communications tower or lightning rod, and the flat roof area could also be used as a public viewing platform, with the tapered spire serving as a crash barrier or balustrade.

What are the spires on a Crown called?

A coronet tower or coronet tower is a traditional form of church tower where curved stone buttresses form the open shape of a rounded crown.

What is the top part of a church called?

The chancel is the holiest part of the church, so it is often separated from the nave by a partition made of wood or stone, or occasionally iron. The community can see through the screen. There may be a cross at the top of the screen. This is called rood (pronounce it like “rude”).

Is spire a part of a church?

A pointed cone shape on a building is called a spire, especially when it rises from the roof of a church. The part of a church roof that rises above a city skyline or the rolling hills of a village and soars steeply into the sky is its steeple. Many church towers have a cross at the top.

What is a spire in architecture?

An octagonal spire sitting directly on top of a square tower. Any slender, pointed structure towering over a building; generally a narrow octagonal pyramid over a square tower. The spire emerged in the 12th century as a simple, four-sided pyramidal roof, generally abrupt and stunted, covering a steeple.

What is the roof of a cathedral called?

These are called “Transepts“. Usually there are two such transepts on each side of the nave, which is the main part of the building of the church or monastery. The word “nave” comes from Latin and means “narrow street” because it resembles a medieval street with its wide central area and the narrow streets leading off it.

What is the full meaning of spire?

1 : a slender, tapered blade or handle (like grass) 2 : the upper, tapered part of something (like a tree or antler): pinnacle. 3a : a tapered roof or analogous pyramidal construction surmounting a tower.

References:

  1. https://buffaloah.com/a/DCTNRY/s/steeple.html
  2. https://www.britannica.com/technology/spire
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steeple
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spire
  5. https://www.heritagedetectives.org/the-time-traveller-s-guide/parish-chests/church-towers/
  6. http://www.word-detective.com/2013/09/steeple/
  7. https://www.deseret.com/2001/2/17/19569894/steeped-in-symbolism
  8. https://www.lbc.co.uk/radio/special-shows/the-mystery-hour/why-fewer-churches-countryside-have-spires-cities/
  9. https://www.phillyvoice.com/infrequently-asked-questions-whats-point-spires-skyscrapers/
  10. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crown_steeple
  11. https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_(building)
  12. https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/spire
  13. https://buffaloah.com/a/DCTNRY/s/spire.html
  14. https://bindleyhardwareco.com/what-is-the-roof-of-a-cathedral-called
  15. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spire

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