Looking for sources of Mediaeval church architecture that shows and\or explains hard to find architectural church additions?

I can recall visiting some old Medieval churches while in France and one parish church in particular had a sort of exterior door that opened to an outdoor pulpit that could only be accessed from the interior of the church. It was explained to me that in times of old this was used by the "porter" or other church ecclesiastic to announce the weekly news and events after mass on Sundays and other major ecclesiastical celebrations.

I would like to know the name of this particular addition to the church. I was told the name some years ago, but cannot recall it.

Perhaps it was something along the lines of the Latin word: Praeconium. This should not be confused with the Praeconium Pascale or Easter Exsultet which was proclaimed from the pulpit.

If a source of this piece (type) of Medieval architecture has a name I would greatly appreciate it, even if it is in Latin only.

This architectural design should not be confused with what was known as the ambo or the wooden pulpit was can still be easily be found in many churches today.

In Western Catholic Churches, the stand used for readings and homilies is formally called the ambo. Despite its name, this structure usually more closely resembles a lectern than the ambon of the Eastern Catholic Churches. The readings are typically read from an ambo in the sanctuary, and depending on the arrangement of the church, the homily may be delivered from a raised pulpit where there is one. Pulpit

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The pulpit of the Notre-Dame de Revel in Revel, Haute-Garonne, France.

If one can find other unique styles of Church additions from the Middle Ages, I would be equally interested also.

In case this is unobtainable, I would would consider accepting a well defined sources that had other information that is explicitly explaining hard to find historical church additions.

  • 1
    I would think that the most probable source would come from a history of architecture book specializing in church floorplans Aug 18, 2023 at 11:46
  • One source says the word for an outdoor pulpit is the Italian ambone. Not sure how authoritative that is, though. May 17 at 21:14

2 Answers 2


One word for an outdoor pulpit is the Italian "ambone", although further research suggests that (at least in Italian) the word can be applied to interior or exterior structures.

The first image below is the ambone at Prato Cathedral, added in the early fifteenth century.

They weren't only incorporated into mediaeval churches. Christ Church Eastbourne (UK), which was opened in 1859 and where I was churchwarden, had one — although that was freestanding and demolished in the 1930s. When St Martin's in the Bullring¹ in Birmingham (UK) was rebuilt in 1855 one was included (see the second image). There's been a church on the site since the twelfth century and it's entirely possible that the Victorian rebuild included the exterior pulpit because the mediaeval church had one.

Prato Cathdedral St Martin's Birmingham (UK)

Left: from Wikipedia; Right: from PuritanBoard

¹ The name may seem odd but the church was in the centre of the mediaeval market town and is still the “Parish Church of Birmingham” although the original parish has been subdivided many times.


The southern Indian state of Kerala has a good number of churches built in the Middle Ages by the Portuguese. Those churches own a lot of land, much of which had been received as gifts from the then rulers. As such, the churches were able to build small extensions in the form of a cross, mostly made of concrete, accompanied by a chapel called Kappela (the word tracing its origin to Portuguese). These constructions, locally called 'Kurishadi' literally meaning 'by the cross' were done on three sides of the Church that is west, south and north, at a distance of say, half a mile, from the church. The chapels accompanying the cross would not host the Holy Eucharist and would be used for devotions like rosary and novena. These extended constructions of the church are so popular that they have become landmarks with the same name (Please find more information on Wikipedia Kurishadi/ Kappela and Christianity in Kerala: Church Architecture)

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