What is this jargon!?! Lancet Window Edition

Last post I mentioned the lancet windows located on the Potsdam Civic Center Complex and my jargon senses were tingling.

So you’re probably asking yourself now: “Why are we learning about lancet windows?” and “Why exactly, should I care?” and  “WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN???”

So before that jargon crisis begins, let’s dive into the history of lancet windows and look at some really awesome buildings that display this type of window. I also know your friends are probably interested and excited to learn what a “lancet window” is, so you should probably share this enlightening information with them too.

These windows are pretty easy architectural feature to identify. They basically are tall, slender windows that have a pointed arch, which is also called, wait for it…. a lancet window.

Lancet windows became a thing during the French Gothic Period of 1140-1200 and then was seen across the channel in England during their Gothic Period from 1200-1275.

So the window got its name from the fact that it looks like a lance, which is a kind of spear used by mounted cavalry. Think of a jousting tournament. Do you see the resemblance in your mind? Can you see it?

These types of windows are seen here in Gothic Revival architecture and normally on churches. Lancet windows can be single, paired, or have an odd number of windows with the tallest window being in the middle.i

The following are buildings that I’ve seen in both Northern New York and Canada that have lancet windows.

The Potsdam Civic Center, where the lancet windows are more visible. This section of the Civic Center was originally a Universalist church built in the 1870’s and then renovated into a library in the 1930’s. It’s now the Potsdam Public Museum. This side of the building would have been the original entrance of the building when it was a church.
This is the First Baptist Church located in Ottawa, Ontario. It’s located at the corner of Elgin Street and Laurier Avenue. It was constructed in 1877 and the cornerstone was laid by the Prime Minister during that time, Alexander Mackenzie! That’s a good example of a both a pair and a trio of lancet windows.
This adorable church is located on Wellesley Island. It’s a shingle style take on Gothic Revival. It’s so cute! Again, here we have another example of a trio of lancet windows with the tallest being in the center. This church was constructed in 1902.
This is the one photo of a building with lancet windows that is not a church! This is the East Block of Canada’s Parliament Hill. It’s one of the original parts of Parliament Hill that has not changed since it’s completion. The building was completed in 1866 and is considered a “High Victorian Gothic” style building. It’s built of Nepean Sandstone. Side note, elsewhere on Parliament Hill, Potsdam Sandstone was used as decorative features on windows, I think specifically on the Parliament Library building.
So we’ve looked at a bunch of exterior shots of lancet windows. This example and the next are views of what a lancet window look like from inside a building. These beautiful stained glass windows are located in the Trinity Episcopal Church in Potsdam, NY. The building was first constructed in 1835 and then went through a huge renovation in the 1880’s, which resulted in the church going from a simple Federal style church with some Gothic Revival elements into a full blown High Victorian Gothic Church.
This window is also in the Trinity Church. It’s a Tiffany window by the way and it’s called, “The Angel of Resurrection.” The stained glass windows in the previous image are also Tiffany windows installed during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Those windows are named, “The Good Shepherd” and “Christ the Light of the World.” Most of the Tiffany windows were donated by the Clarkson family, the same family that Clarkson University was named after.

If you have any examples of lancet windows on a building that is not a church building, share it in the comments below. I’d love to see more examples of Gothic Revival homes with lancet windows!

For more information on the buildings presented, check out the following links:

Canada’s Parliament Hill:



Wellesley Island Densmore Methodist Church:


The following is a great article, not just about the Densmore Church but about many of the churches found in the Thousand Islands:


Trinity Episcopal Church, Potsdam, NY:

Their website has a great section on all of the stained glass windows within their church. In May I gave a tour of Potsdam Sandstone structures located in the Village of Potsdam. The Church allowed us to bring the tours inside to see the interior, which was really great and people enjoyed being able to see the interior of the church and the stained glass windows up close!


End Note:

i  I already knew how to explain what a lancet window was but if you’re interested in an actual definition check out the online Encyclopedia Britannica: https://www.britannica.com/technology/lancet-window, accessed 07/01/2016. I also looked at Wikipedia’s page too because it has some nice examples of lancet windows seen in England and Italy: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lancet_window, accessed 07/03/2016.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s