The Church of St Mary in Stoughton is described in the book ‘Betjeman’s Best British Churches’ as an outstanding example of a well-loved country church, and who am I to disagree. Standing above the pretty village, the late C11 church is approached up a wide but inclined footpath; a challenge I’m sure for a few elderly worshipers walking up the slope to get to the Sunday Eucharist service.
Whenever I find myself in a church I am simply looking to photograph the features which draw my attention. Sometimes it can simply be the play of light, as shown below in the image called ‘Hymns’. The rays of sun only lasted a few seconds so I was fortunate to capture this particular shot. Alternatively I might concentrate on certain details, like the ‘Organ pipes’ or ‘Bell ropes’. I will also use a wide aperture to give me a limited depth of field to isolate an feature but still provide context. The ‘Nave lamp’ is a good example of this technique.
Churches have many things in common, but they are all different. Each and every one has its own character and its this character or personality that I am trying to capture when the camera comes out of the bag and the shutter starts to open and close. I can happily spend an hour or two in an empty church just looking around, soaking up the atmosphere and waiting for the light to add another dimension these wonderful historic places of worship.
Do click on any of the images to view a larger version or visit the West Sussex Gallery page for other churches in the same county.
For more information about my ongoing Churches Project do click here.
For a more historical description of St Mary, Stoughton do click here.