triforium

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triforium, triforium-gallery. In larger Romanesque and Gothic churches, an upper aisle with its own arcade forming an important part of the elevation of a nave interior above the nave-arcade and below the clerestorey. Gervase (fl. late C12), in his account of Canterbury Cathedral, used ‘triforium’ to mean the clerestorey-gallery or any upper passage or thoroughfare, and his usage does not in any way indicate ‘three openings’, as those at Canterbury were two or four, so the term does not seem to apply to the arcade through which the triforium-gallery is visible from the nave. Probably the most accurate way of describing the arcade would be triforium-arcade, or arcade opening to the triforium-gallery.

Bibliography

F. Bond (1913);
W. Papworth (1892);
Sturgis et al. (1901–2)

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triforium (trīfôr´ēəm), in church architecture, an arcaded gallery above the arches of the nave. In the interiors of medieval churches each bay of the nave wall customarily had three divisions in its height—arcade, triforium, and clerestory. The triforium was thus located beneath the clerestory windows and above the side-aisle vaults and corresponded on the exterior to the lean-to roof over the aisle. In Italian basilical churches this interior surface was generally decorated with paintings or mosaics. In the north the triforium had arched openings with apertures in the wall behind it to ventilate the roof space over the aisle. In most Romanesque churches it appeared as a second-story vaulted gallery over the aisle and was equal to it in depth and sometimes also in height. In Gothic churches, the depth behind the triforium arcades was generally limited to the thickness of the nave wall, into which a narrow passageway was built to furnish a second-story circulation around the church. Developed French Gothic flattened the pitch of the aisle roofs, thus leaving the outside wall of the triforia exposed and free for glazing. The inside face retained its rich open tracery arcades. Late Gothic subordinated the triforium between the higher main arcades and clerestory and sometimes omitted it entirely.

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triforium a gallery or arcade above the arches of the nave, choir, and transepts of a church. The Anglo-Latin term is found first in the chronicle of Gervase of Canterbury, c.1185, and originally referred only to Canterbury Cathedral; it was mentioned by Viollet-le-Duc in his Dictionnaire d'Architecture (1868) as having been introduced into architectural nomenclature by the English archaeologists, and from the 19th century was extended as a general term. The origin of the word is unknown.

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tri·fo·ri·um / trīˈfôrēəm/ • n. (pl. -for·i·a / -ˈfôrēə/ ) a gallery or arcade above the arches of the nave, choir, and transepts of a church.

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triforium (archit.) gallery in the wall over the arches at the sides of nave and choir. — AL. (XII; taken up by antiquaries XVIII); of unkn. orig.