I have long been an advocate of ‘working’ a subject – in other words taking time to explore different compositions of what is essentially the same subject. I don’t wish to assume that the first choice of viewpoint and lens selection will make the best photograph. The temptation of course can be to pursue the obvious and then walk away believing the job is done.Read more
Photography is very often a solitary pursuit and when outdoors in a beautiful landscape I find it is one of contemplation as well. Time passes swiftly as I immerse myself in the surroundings with just the occasional person walking past who may or may not say hello. That’s fine by me. I don’t wish to sound unsociable but nor do I want my concentration broken.
This weekend I decided to slow things right down and do some long exposure captures. It’s not an approach I have taken before for one principal reason. I have always thought myself to be a spontaneous, albeit considered photographer, who enjoys hand held compositions. The flexibility of being able to move a camera quickly from one position to another is in stark contrast to the tedium of carrying and using a tripod. However long exposures and tripods go hand hand in hand assuming of course you want the static element in the frame to be sharp. If you enjoy ICM (Intentional Camera Movement) then a tripod is no longer a requirement.
As I entered through the south door of this 13th Century church I felt as if I had been transported back in time. Ancient, peaceful, unspoilt and lacking any discernible recent restoration, the church of St John the Baptist at Inglesham in Wiltshire is an exquisite wonder.
In the south wall the carving is thought to date back to Saxon times. It depicts Madonna with the hand of God pointing down to her child.
To the right of the main door and lining the south and north aisles are carved timber screens dating from the 15th or early 16th century.
To the left of the entrance is the 15th century font which was originally painted. Between 1589 and 1840 the parish registry records over 500 baptisms.
The box pews are from the 17th and 18th century. It was traditional for farming families to occupy their own box pew for services.
The nave appears to date from the early 13th century. The floor is formed of uneven slabs. At the end of the nave where it joins the chancel there is a huge stone with the indentation of an unknown knight.
Turn round, face East and you are greeted with the splendid sacristy, arguably the finest feature of the church. The painted walls and inscription which are 7 layers thick in places are an absolute delight.
For a colour version of the above photograph please click here and read my previous post.
As you walk around this medieval building, historic details reveal themselves. For example this round metal holder which after the reformation would have held an hour glass to regulate the length of a sermon. Sermons often lasted 2 or 3 hours in the late 16th and 17th century, so the preacher would ask for ‘one more turn’ of the glass! If the sermon went on for 3 or even 4 hours then it entailed ‘turn after turn’ which may be based on the principle that ‘one good turn deserves another’.
When making images my aim is always to capture the true essence and special atmosphere of the place. I rejoice in the fact that it remains open daily to the public and has been maintained by the Churches Conservation Trust since 1979. In fact we have to thank William Morris, the designer, novelist and conservation campaigner who in 1887 recognised the importance of this church. He successfully raised sufficient funds so that works could be undertaken ensuring that the building did not fall into ruin. This very act secured its survival to the present day.
Although it’s the interior that holds the greatest appeal the exterior of the church is well worth photographing too.
With the exception of a few notices and leaflets about the Churches Conservation Trust, St John the Baptist Church is a timeless joy and long may it stay that way. I spent about 4 hours looking around and taking photographs. During my visit 3 small groups of other people came through the door, but they didn’t spend more than 15 minutes inside. A pity, as I doubt they could have truly absorbed and fully appreciated the special atmosphere in such a short period of time. I considered myself fortunate as I virtually had the place to myself. Tranquility, sanctuary and ancient history all rolled together into a delightful experience and most rewarding afternoon.
Regular visitors to this site will know that one of my passions are medieval churches. The older the better and preferably with little or no restoration; preserving original features and in so doing retaining a true sense of history. I like to enter a church and be transported back time. To feel part of its story and to enjoy the peace and solitude these places bring to a busy and chaotic world.
For some considerable time I have wanted to visit the 13th century church of St John the Baptist in Inglesham, which lies to the north of Swindon in Wiltshire. Earlier this week I spent the best part of 4 hours exploring the church, finding compositions and releasing the shutter. This one photograph of the sacristy fully justfies the 200 mile round trip. This is the only image I have made so far. In time I will process others and write a more in depth post.
My Instagram (alan_frost_photography) profile states – ‘An eclectic mono photographer with occasional colour lapses.’ This is one such occasion. The wall paintings date from the 14th century and in some places are seven layers deep. Just glorious.
Do click on the image to enjoy and appreciate a larger version which will open in a new window.
The county of Norfolk has many attractions not least the sheer number and variety of churches to visit. These three examples were captured whilst on holiday a couple of years ago but only now have I processed them to my liking. I sometimes think a trip to Norfolk specifically to photograph churches would be a great thing to do. I will add it to my ever growing list of places to take my camera!
Do click on an image to view a larger version which will open in a new window.