Posts from the ‘church’ category

Thwarted by the flower arrangers at Hardham Church

St Botolphs, Hardham

St Botolphs, Hardham


I guess the title of this post requires an explanation.

Quite simply I had visited this small church to the south of Pulborough in West Sussex previously, but not with a camera, nor with the time to take any photographs. Nevertheless this brief encounter was enough to entice me back when the opportunity arose. I returned last Saturday, having already given some thought to the shots I wanted to take, what lens I might use and how the images might be processed afterwards. Call it pre-visualisation if you like, but that sounds rather pretentious. In truth I was just looking forward to spending more time with my camera in a church dating back to C1050 with some of the finest wall paintings in the county.

I opened the door and was warmly greeted by a retired couple. I immediately noticed a tarpaulin on the floor and a few buckets strewn around containing withered flowers. I made polite conversation but this couple were not visiting the church, they had come to arrange the flowers ready for the services scheduled for the following day. I tried to establish how long they might be before completing their task for the day, but it soon became apparent they were going to be some time. There was no way I could concentrate on taking photographs, and even if I could, it was a practical impossibility with so much debris in the aisle.  I had been thwarted by the flower arrangers.

I will return another day, but for now I hope you enjoy the one image I could take……..the pretty exterior of St Botolphs Church in Hardham.


Churches Project no. 3 – St Mary the Virgin, North Stoke, West Sussex

There are some occasions when from the moment I walk through the door, I just know that the interior of a church has something special to offer and will provide me with plenty of photographic opportunities. When I visited the Church of St Mary the Virgin in the tiny remote hamlet of North Stoke, this proved to be one of those occasions.



I have to say I do like simple churches; ones that are timeless and barring a few recent additions are largely unrestored. This particular church nestles in the South Downs about 2 miles to the north of Arundel. Apart from the adjacent farmhouse, together with various farm buildings, the church is isolated and surrounded by the beautiful countryside of the Arun Valley.




The Church dates back to Medieval times; the nave being 12th Century in origin. It is no longer in regular use but maintained by the Churches Conservation Trust. Its quiet, calm and peaceful atmosphere evokes centuries of prayer.




A Bible lies open on a plain white cloth, covering an old table. Simple but evocative.




Though not large, its simplicity and elegant proportions give the impression of height and space. Light floods in through the clear glass of the beautiful Medieval windows to illuminate the interior.




The church is largely hidden by trees so taking a photograph of the exterior is not that easy, but the view below does emphasise the simplicity of the church. There is no tower, just a dormer belfry which cannot be seen.



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Churches Project no. 2 – St Materiana, Tintagel, Cornwall

I approached the church from Tintagel Castle along cliff tops with spectacular views out towards the Atlantic. The village of Tintagel is clearly visible in the background.

When I first arrived at St Materiana, I was greeted by a notice in the graveyard – ‘Beware Adders’. Needless to say I trod very carefully as I walked around trying to find the best position to photograph the exterior of the building.



The parish church of Tintagel is in the Anglican Diocese of Truro and county of Cornwall England. The Church was built between 1080 and 1150 and stands in an exposed position on Glebe Cliff overlooking the sea. St Materiana has been identified with St Madryn, a princess of Gwent, who, according to tradition, evangelised this area in about 500 AD. It is likely that the Church was built on the site of an oratory served in celtic days by the monks of Minster and later replaced by a Saxon style building. It appears to have been built on the site of intensive early Christian burial during the 5th to 7th centuries and the church today still retains an air of early Christianity.



The very large graveyard slopes away from the church, back towards the nearby village.



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Churches – an exciting new photographic project

St Nectan, Stoke in the Parish of Hartland in Devon

St Nectan, Hartland in Devon

For quite some time I have been considering undertaking a photographic project but have lacked inspiration – until now.

Some months ago I read two very good books; one called ‘On being a photographer’ by David Hurn in conversation with Bill Jay; and another entitled ‘The Essence of Photography’ by Bruce Barnbaum, both of which I can highly recommend. Each publication talked about the benefits to be derived from working on a project, whether small or large, and irrespective of the time it might take to complete.

In ‘On being a photographer’ the author writes – “The subject matter you select must; a) fire your enthusiasm and curiosity at least for the length of time it will take to produce a meaningful body of work; b) lend itself to images, as opposed to words and; c) remain continuously accessible so that you can return time and again to the same topic whenever you wish or have the time.

From the same book it reads – “The more the shooting, the greater the enthusiasm and knowledge for your subject. The greater your knowledge, the more you want to do it justice and this increases the scope and depth of the pictures. So the process feeds on itself”.

Committed to the idea that I would like to start a project, but not knowing what it might be, I was recently inspired by a famous book called ‘Betjemans Best British Churches’ to visit and photograph a number of churches listed during a recent holiday in Devon. I soon realised that I would often photograph these buildings and their locations whenever the opportunity arose, but I had never thought of it as a project.

The penny has finally dropped and whilst this work will not be at the expense of making images of other subjects, it will give me a sense of direction and purpose. There are about 2,500 churches in the guide so I will not be short of material. Some are close to home so easy to visit in a day; others I can research and look forward to visiting as travel and holidays permit. Interiors are just as important as the exterior, so I am not entirely dependent on the weather. Landscapes are my other great love, so visiting a church will take me to new areas as well.

Inspired, excited and full of enthusiasm I have created a new section on this site, not surprisingly called Churches Project . Do read  the introduction and by way of a start I am pleased to show a photograph of one of the churches I visited in Devon in this post.

The Church of St Nectan is in the hamlet of Stoke in the Parish of Hartland. It is often referred to as the Cathedral of North Devon. I like the fact that the tower, which was built as a landmark for mariners, is partially obscured by low cloud and the way the cluster of daisies in the foreground appears to be replicated by the lichen on the gravestones.






In loving memory of a Churchyard – St Thomas a’ Becket, Warblington


From an early age I have always been fascinated by churches and churchyards with their gravestones and crosses.  I guess this interest was instilled in me by my parents when I was a small child. My father would want to stop and visit every church we came across, particularly when we were on holiday visiting a new area. If there was time he would want to do a quick pencil drawing of the church in a sketchbook, something which he always carried with him. He would note down the colours and when he returned home he would get out his brushes and water colours to paint the scene he had sketched, but also the one he remembered in his mind’s eye.

I am no different except I paint with light, using black and white photographs instead of some paper, pencil and paints.  I will capture the scene and then in post processing apply the appropriate treatment to the image. It’s a creative but arguably selfish process, as first and foremost I want the result to please me but I always hope it may give some pleasure to the viewer as well, but primarily it’s my interpretation of a visit to a particular location.




The subject of this entry is the churchyard  of St Thomas a’Beckett Church in Warblington, which dates back to Saxon times. It is situated in the Parish of Emsworth on the borders of West Sussex and Hamsphire, within just a few minutes walk of the sea,. As you might imagine the area is popular with walkers and those visiting this lovely church. The churchyard is about an acre in size and there is a much larger adjoining cemetery, so there is plenty to explore. Inevitably many of the inscriptions on the headstones have been worn away, now covered by lichen or ivy. Apparently the oldest memorial dates back to 1707. One of the most striking is the gravestone of William Palmer (above) which depicts the sinking of his ship, mast first, in Dublin Harbour in 1759.






I fully accept the subject of this entry will not be to everyones liking, but as I have already said these are fascinating places. They are a reminder of lives lost and the lives those people used to live many generations ago. Walk along the pathways and between the headstones and your mind starts to wander as you try and imagine what life must have been like for the people of Warblington in days gone by.

There are eight more images in this post ……… so do continue scrolling down.


















All the photographs in this entry where taken with a Leica M Monochrom and 50mm Summilux lens, often shot wide open at f1.4 to give a very narrow depth of field. They were all processed in Lightroom and then imported into Silver Efex for some final treatment.

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