spire

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spire,

high, tapering structure crowning a tower and having a general pyramidal outline. The simplest spires were the steeply pitched timber roofs capping Romanesque towers and campaniles. In later Romanesque architecture the spire was commonly octagonal, topping a square tower. Transition between the two shapes was effected by filling each corner with a decorative pinnacle or a small turret. With Gothic development the spire became more elaborate. Generally the tower proper was capped by a parapet, behind which rose the stone spire, its edges finished with a molding and adorned with crockets. The corner pinnacles, with their niches, gables, and crockets, were often joined to the spire roof by flying arches. In France spires (called flèches) sometimes were placed over the two western towers of the cathedrals; at Chartres they are of two different periods, Romanesque and Gothic. In England the central tower of a cathedral often had a spire; at Lichfield one crowns each western tower as well. The ultimate elaboration in Gothic spires was attained with the addition of openwork tracery, as in the flamboyant example of Rouen (Tour de Beurre). The Germans, particularly, favored intricate openwork compositions, as at the cathedrals of Strasbourg (1015–1439) and Vienna (15th cent.). England in the late 17th cent. gave the spire new form in the numerous churches that Sir Christopher Wren built for London after the great fire. These were either the roof type, with richly curved baroque outlines, or cupola compositions with such classical features as columns and pediments. St. Martin-in-the-Fields (1722–26), built by James Gibbs, illustrates the Georgian spire or steeple with its receding stages of classic architecture terminated by a steep pyramidal roof. It was an influential prototype for the slender, classical spires of American colonial churches.

Spire

A slender pointed element on top of a building, generally a narrow octagonal pyramid set above a square tower.

Spire

 

a vertical, sharply pointed structure surmounting a building, having the shape of a cone tapering upward. Spires are often capped with a flag or a sculpted or carved figure, such as the ship on the Admiralty spire in Leningrad.

spire

[spīr]
(architecture)
As a landmark, a prominent, slender, pointed structure surmounting a building; a spire is seldom less than two-thirds of the entire height, and its lines are rarely broken by stages or other features.
(botany)
A narrow, tapering blade or stalk.

spire

Any slender pointed construction surmounting a building; generally a narrow octagonal pyramid set above a square tower.

spire

1
1. a tall structure that tapers upwards to a point, esp one on a tower or roof or one that forms the upper part of a steeple
2. a slender tapering shoot or stem, such as a blade of grass

spire

2
the apical part of a spiral shell
References in classic literature ?
Nevertheless, timid and inexperienced at the start, it sweeps out, grows larger, restrains itself, and dares no longer dart upwards in spires and lancet windows, as it did later on, in so many marvellous cathedrals.
Jim the horse had seen these spires, also, and his ears stood straight up with fear, while Dorothy and Zeb held their breaths in suspense.
At last they reached the great gateway, just as the sun was setting and adding its red glow to the glitter of the emeralds on the green walls and spires.
Of course, there was no perspective whatever, which only gave it a peculiar charm to Rose, for in one place a lovely lady, with blue knitting-needles in her hair, sat directly upon the spire of a stately pagoda.
There the Capitol thou seest, Above the rest lifting his stately head On the Tarpeian rock, her citadel Impregnable; and there Mount Palatine, The imperial palace, compass huge, and high The structure, skill of noblest architects, With gilded battlements, conspicuous far, Turrets, and terraces, and glittering spires.
These two circumstances, however, happening both unfortunately to intervene, our travellers deviated into a much less frequented track; and after riding full six miles, instead of arriving at the stately spires of Coventry, they found themselves still in a very dirty lane, where they saw no symptoms of approaching the suburbs of a large city.
The tower of old Saint Saviour's Church, and the spire of Saint Magnus, so long the giant-warders of the ancient bridge, were visible in the gloom; but the forest of shipping below bridge, and the thickly scattered spires of churches above, were nearly all hidden from sight.
To be sure, it was a beautiful little cottage with a thatched roof and little spires at the gable-ends, and pieces of stained glass in some of the windows, almost as large as pocket-books.
For as in landscape gardening, a spire, cupola, monument, or tower of some sort, is deemed almost indispensable to the completion of the scene; so no face can be physiognomically in keeping without the elevated open-work belfry of the nose.
We visited the principal church, also--a curious old structure, with a towerlike spire adorned with all sorts of grotesque images.
Now and then a faint quiver of earthquake would be sensible, and sometimes the ascent of the spire of smoke would be rendered tumultuous by gusts of steam; but that was all.
If this king and this arch-prelate have their will, we shall briefly behold a cross on the spire of this tabernacle which we have builded, and a high altar within its walls, with wax tapers burning round it at noonday.