It is a truism that the history of building is the history of the civilized world, for of all the arts practised by man, there is none which conveys to us a clearer conception of the religion, history, manners, customs, ideals and follies of past ages, than the art of building. This applies in a special sense to cathedrals and churches, which glorious relics reflect and perpetuate the noble aim, the delicate thought, the refined and exquisite taste, the patient and painstaking toil which have been expended upon them by the devout and earnest craftsmen of the past.
There are very few of our ancient churches in village, town or city which do not offer some feature of interest to the visitor, and in the absence of anything more important, there is sure to be some door, window, font, screen, or other detail which will amply repay him for the small amount of time spent in seeing it.
The aim of the author of this little volume has been to indicate the symbolism and meaning attaching to the various portions of our churches and cathedrals, and to endeavour briefly to describe, in language as simple as the subject will allow, the various styles of ecclesiastical architecture with their distinctive characteristics in such a way as will enable the reader to assign each portion and detail of a church to its respective period with an approximate degree of accuracy.
He does not claim to be original, but endeavours to be useful and interesting. The best authorities have been consulted and freely drawn upon, but with the object in view of writing a book at once thus useful and interesting, no attempt has been made to deal with the subject in a strictly architectural, or a purely scientific manner.