alan frost photography

in monochrome with occasional colour lapses

Posts tagged ‘St Mary’

Churches Project no.10 – St Mary, North Marden, West Sussex

Nave of North Marden Church

Nave and chancel of North Marden Church

St Mary’s in North Marden is a tiny Norman country church thought to date from the late 12th Century. Approached through a farmyard the nave and chancel are undivided. The chancel has an unusual semi circular or apsidal end, a feature which is only to be found in five other small english churches. There is very little light inside the church, and first impressions are of a dark and almost mysterious interior. To this day there is no electricity, so when in use the interior is still lit by candles. The church is Grade 1 Listed and can seat up to about 70 people.

The church has a superb Norman south doorway made of Caen stone which was probably shipped from France across the English Channel to Chichester Harbour and then transported by pack horse to the site of the church. It is the same stone that was used to build Chichester Cathedral.

 

North Marden Porch

North Marden Porch and Norman doorway.

Standing in the porch and looking through the doorway into the nave with the vestry opposite, I just try to imagine all the characters who have walked into this humble little place of worship in the 900 or so years since the church was built. It’s not possible of course but the thought itself is quite remarkable.

 

St Mary North Marden

St Mary North Marden

This church is one eight churches which make up the Octagon Parish. A group of churches serving the villages of Stoughton, Racton, Forestside, Stansted, Compton, Esat Marden, Up Marden and of course North Marden. They are all set in beautiful and largely unspoilt downland countryside, which makes these churches so very appealing.

I have already featured two of these churches and the links can be found below. I am sure I will be visiting the other five in due course.

St Michael’s, Up Marden

St Mary’s Stoughton

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.