Do you know how long it took for construction workers to complete building your house? Perhaps less than a year? How about that new government building or the new performing arts center on the nearby college campus? Longer, no doubt – maybe just over two years? These all had the benefit of being designed and constructed in modern times – electricity, CAD, and so on.
How did it take in centuries past? Take cathedrals, for example. Because they were so big and took so long to complete, no one man could mastermind the whole work from start to finish. Some cathedrals were so complex that architects had to come up with new ways to support the grandiose structural design. And when one master mason stepped down, another was waiting in the wings (or nave) with a change in design direction.
How long did it take to construct one of these things? Here are some well-known buildings and how long it took to get them off the ground.
- Canterbury Cathedral (Constructed 1070-1834)
- Cologne Cathedral (Constructed 1248-1880)
- Norwich Cathedral (Constructed 1096-1145)
- Notre Dame de Paris (Constructed 1163-1345)
- St. Patrick's Cathedral (New York) (Constructed 1858-78)
- Salisbury Cathedral (Constructed 1220-1320)
- Wells Cathedral (Constructed 1176–1490)
Bellairs writes in the third chapter of Saint Fidgeta and Other Parodies that the abnormality is "one of the great examples of how many different styles of architecture may blend into a frozen fugue of harmonious integrity." Located in Spain, construction on St. Gorboduc’s is said to have begun in 623 and only saw completion in 1962, a mere fifty years ago this year.
There were obviously delays. Here's to another half-century.