DECORATED STYLE of Gothic architecture. During the reigns of the first three Edwards, from the latter part of the 13th till nearly the end of the 14th c., Gothic archi tecture may be said to have been in full bloom in England. It attained perfection some what earlier in France and Germany, and somewhat later in Scotland, and consequently the buildings on the continent which correspond to what is called the D. S. in England, belong, for the most part, to the beginning, and those in Scotland, for the most part, to the end of the 14th century. The D. S. arose so gradually out of the style which pre ceded it, and merged so gradually into that which followed it, that it is not wonderful that different periods of duration should be assigned to it by different writers. The longest, probably, is that mentioned by Britton, from 1272 to 1461; and the shortest by Rickman, from 1307 to 1392. In fixing on the middle of the 14th c. as its highest point, however, they are all pretty much agreed, and the same agreement is exhibited in rec ognizing it as the most perfect of the Gothic styles. The decorated was a higher devel opment of the early English style, all the peculiarities of which, both in its forms and in its adornments, it exhibited in greater perfection and richness; and it is remarkable that when we pass from it to the more elaborately florid style which succeeded it, the degen. eracy in sculpture is as perceptible as in architecture. It seems, indeed, as if the school of art which we regard as the peculiar production of the middle age, then attained, iu all its branches, to a point which admitted of no further progress in that direction. Nor is this remark confined to art, as addressed to the eye, for that it applies equally to poetry will be at once admitted, when it is remembered that the era which we have assigned to the D S. throws it almost entirely within the period which is covered by the long life
of Chaucer. It is a striking instance, moreover, of the intimate relation which subsists between the msthetic and the general life of a nation, that it was at this very same period that the social, political, and religious institutions of mediteval life culminated. Chivalry and feudality were in the fullness of their vigor, and the church had only just begun to give employment to the innovating minds of the first reformers. Of all the epithets which have been employed to characterize this style—absolute Gothic, pure Gothic, complete Gothic, and the like—that of the "middle pointed" is, perhaps, the most descriptive; the simple pointed arch, described from an equilateral or obtuse-antled tri angle, being retained, but the window being enlarged, divided by mullions into several lights, and the heads filled with tracery. Of this, as of all the other styles of architect ure, the most characteristic feature of all is unquestionably the capitals of the pillars. Of the foliage which is employed in the decorated capital, Mr. Bloxam remarks, that it "may generally be distinguished from that of the early English by its not rising from the neck molding with stiff stems, but being carried round the bell in something of a wreath-like form. . . . It often exhibits much of natural freedom; and we frequently find the the ivy, the hazel, the vine, the fern, etc., very beautifully and closely copied from the natural leaves.