Definition of terms used throughout Women's History section.



Active congregations

Active sisters took 'simple vows' and often worked outside the convent, running schools, hospitals, orphanages and other institutions. Most pre-reformation nuns took 'solemn vows' and lived in enclosed convents.


A style of architecture, art and music especially common in the seventeenth century known for its extravagant, elaborate and often exaggerated decoration.

Brutalist architecture

An architectural movement from the mid-1950s until the 1970s.

Doric column

Marking the oldest and simplest of Greek forms of architecture, fluted columns with plain upper parts.

Gothic Style

In architecture, the term 'Gothic' refers to a style that dominated European church building from the twelfth to the sixteenth-century. It is characterised by a general emphasis on vertical forms and common design features include: pointed arches, elaborate tracery, steeply-pitched roofs, rib vaulted ceilings and leaded stained glass windows.


A loose cloak.

Modernist architecture

Inspired by the Russian architect, Berthold Lubetkin who came to live and work in London in 1931, founding the group Tecton.


These institutions offered rehabilitation and religious teaching to 'penitents' (former prostitutes and prisoners) and sometimes provided work and training for vulnerable and unemployed women and girls.


Cement or plaster used as a coating for ceilings, interior or exterior walls.


A term used by the 'Daily Mail' in 1906 as a term of ridicule for those women, usually members of the Women's Social and Political Union, who advocated and used militant protest methods.


Those who wish to gain the vote using peaceful constitutional methods such as petitions, public meetings or lobbying.

The Reformation

The Protestant reformation in England during the sixteenth-century led to a break with the Roman Catholic Church, with Henry VIII declaring himself Supreme Head of the Church in England in 1534.


A stepped 'A'-frame construction inspired by the buildings of the ancient Babylonians.

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