alan frost photography

in monochrome with occasional colour lapses

Posts from the ‘church’ category

Churches Project no. 7 – St Swithin, Launcells, Cornwall

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It’s been a little while since I posted an entry relating to my Churches Project. This is partly because I have spent a lot of my spare time recently processing and then posting images which were taken in Snowdonia. But it’s mainly down to the fact that I just haven’t found the time to visit and photograph any new churches!

This church is St Swithin in Launcells, Cornwall. It is an unspoilt country church dating back to the 15th Century, set in a wooded valley just inland from the coastal town of Bude and only a few miles from the Devon border.

Sometimes when I visit a church for the first time a particular feature strikes me above all others and this was certainly the case when I visited St Swithin. As I set foot through the main door my eye was instantly drawn to all the Tudor pews and their quite remarkable carved bench ends. The first and last pews are also carved on the front and back respectively, whilst the other rows are all decorated at each end. They are all different and depict a variety of biblical stories. I didn’t have the time, but many an hour could be spent trying to interpret each set of carvings. Sir John Betjeman described them as being the ‘finest bench ends in Cornwall’ and who I am I to argue with that.

 

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The other fine feature was the old and well used Bible which perhaps unusually was illustrated with some fine drawings. The good book was open at the Gospel of Mark and the picture shows Christ ‘giving sight to the blind’.

 

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Oh how wonderful it is to have vision, not to look in to the future but to be blessed with sight – to see and appreciate things in the present moment. To be able to witness and admire at the first hand the fine craftsmanship of those people, who back in the 15th and 16th Centuries used their skills to create something which some 500 years later can still be enjoyed today.

Churches Project no 7. – St Mary, Stoughton, West Sussex

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.

 

Hymns

Hymns

 

Organ pipes

Organ pipes

 

Nave lamp

Nave lamp

 

Chancel step

Chancel step

 

Bell ropes

Bell ropes

 

Contributions welcome

Contributions welcome

 

Chancel

Chancel

 

Chancel door

Chancel door

 

St Mary, Stoughton

St Mary, Stoughton

 

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.

Churches Project no 6. – Holy Sepulchre, Warminghurst, West Sussex

Approached by a narrow country lane, Holy Sepulchre, Warminghurst, lies between the villages of Thakeham and Ashington. With only a farmhouse as a neighbour this is the second church I have visited which is maintained by The Churches Conservation Trust (CCT). Described on the CCT website as a ‘Country gem from a gentler era’ you only have to step inside this sandstone church to know the description is very appropriate. It is quite lovely and well worth finding the time to visit.

On raised ground above the lane itself, the churchyard has views across farmland to the Iron Age fort of Chanctonbury Ring in the distance, but it’s inside the church when the true beauty of this building reveals itself. Thought to date back to the late 13th century there is evidence to suggest the timbers in the bell frame are from 1158. The interior furnishings are from the 1700’s and the silvery oak pews, triple decker pulpit and three arched screen are all rather special and in part make this church such a wonderful place to visit. Clear glass leaded windows ensure the interior is well lit, and when the sun shines, splendid shadows are cast in the window reveals.

Churches which are maintained by The CCT depend on donations but also the knowledge that the church attracts regular visitors. I was there for over two hours taking photographs and a good number of people came and went in that time. I am pleased to say that some just came to sit and pray quietly and I respected their visit and stopped what I was doing, so they could be find peace in this charming unspoilt country place of worship.

Historians might find it interesting to know that Warminghurst Park was owned by the Quaker, William Penn. Purchased by James Butler he later demolished it, as he was determined to remove all trace of the old Quaker, who as a Trustee of West Jersey gave his name to what later became known as Pennsylvania.

 

Shadows in arches

Shadows in arches

 

Altar table

Altar table

 

The Nave and flagstone floor

The Nave and flagstone floor

 

18th Century furnishings

18th Century furnishings

 

North doorway

North doorway

 

The Nave and pulpit

The Nave and pulpit

 

West door

West door

 

Doorway to South porch

Doorway to South porch

 

Holy Sepulchre, Warminghurst

Holy Sepulchre, Warminghurst

 

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.

Churches Project no.5 – St Michael’s, Up Marden, West Sussex

St Michael’s in Up Marden is a small, beautiful and unspoilt country church dating back to the 13th Century. Within the South Downs National Park it lies to the north west of Chichester and to the south of the Hampshire town of Petersfield. Invisible from the road behind farm buildings and surrounded by trees and farmland it would be easy to pass it by. Even if you happened to find yourself along this very quiet country lane in this remote backwater of West Sussex, you still might miss the small sign which leads you up an unmade track to the church.

When I visited the church it was quite a dull day and on entry the nave was dark and it took a while for my eyes to adjust to the light. I rely totally on natural light for my work, I don’t even possess a flash but even if I did, I wouldn’t use it as I like to work with the light I am given and not create an artificial look to my photographs. I did though wonder how I was going to cope with such poor light, but the combination of a high ISO setting (1600 or 3200), a monopod, and some careful post processing, I was able to achieve the results you can see in this post.

I spent over two hours on my own, observing and taking in the atmosphere of this lovely building, working out the best way to capture the almost rustic simplicity of this church. After all it is still lit by candles, so there are no ‘modern’ wires or bulbs to take away the fact that this is a very old place of worship for country folk.

 

The Chancel in Up Marden Church

The Chancel

 

Prayer Book in Up Marden Church

The Lord’s Supper

 

Light through the door way in Up Marden Church

Light through the door way into the bell tower

 

Candelabra in Up Marden Church

Candelabra 

 

Cobwebs and cow parsley through the leaded light window of Up Marden Church

Cobwebs and cow parsley 

 

St Michael's Church, Up Marden

St Michael’s Church, Up Marden

 

The Alter in Up Marden Church

The Altar 

 

Within the same area there are churches at East Marden, West Marden and North Marden, but they will all have to wait for another day.

 

Do click on any of the images to view a larger version in a new window or visit the West Sussex Gallery page for other churches in the county.

For more information about my ongoing Churches Project do click here.

The Archangel Gabriel – Sanctuary and tranquility in South Harting Church

Archangel Gabriel

The Archangel Gabriel

 

A few weeks ago I started a new photographic project on Churches. Whilst I would document whatever I found and liked on my travels, my intention was always to apply my own interpretation and in so doing, try and express the feelings I had for the subject in the resulting image.

Quite recently I was delighted to find this sculpture of The Archangel Gabriel in the North transept of the Church of St Mary and St Gabriel in South Harting, West Sussex. Commissioned by an anonymous benefactor, the sculpture was created by the renowned sculptor Philip Jackson and was unveiled by the Bishop of Chichester in 2009.

The dynamic range was challenging and my first attempt to process the image was not to my liking. I left it a couple of days and returned to the original RAW negative and started again. In the intervening period I thought about what went ‘wrong’ the first time, and applied some alternative techniques to make the picture.

For me there is an ethereal and spiritual feeling to the finished image, combined with one of sanctuary and tranquility. Whilst the Angel is a very recent addition to the church, the picture also has a timeless quality to it and this was an important factor to keep in mind when processing the negative.

You might be interested to know that on closer inspection of the sculpture, which is suspended by almost invisible wires, there is a carved inscription down the side of the Angel’s robe. It reads – ‘AVE MARIA GRATIA PLENA DOMINUS TECUM. Although I was taught Latin at school by a blind teacher many years ago, there was no way I was going to be able translate this phrase without some help. I typed the words into Google Translate and in an instant the phrase was given to me in English. It reads – ‘HAIL MARY, FULL OF GRACE, THE LORD IS WITH THEE.’

I will return to this church as there are other elements which I would like to capture for my Churches Project, but I felt this image was deserving of an entry in its own right.

To fully appreciate the photograph you might like to view a larger version. if so, then do click on the image which will open in a new window.

Thank you for looking and reading.