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English churches are often a reflection of the settlement in which they stand. Large town churches were usually built with not only the offerings of a large congregation, but also the riches of a local guild. Small villages and hamlets frequently have small churches, the best that could be afforded by a limited community.
But often these generalities don't apply. The village of Skirlaugh in the East Riding of Yorkshire has a large and fine C15 church of a much higher quality than might be expected in such a place. It came about because one of its inhabitants, Walter Skirlaw, became Bishop of Durham, a position that enabled him to fund the building. The village of Hoar Cross in Staffordshire has a large, lavishly built Victorian church by Bodley that was built in commemoration of Hugo Ingram of Hoar Cross Hall by his wife.
What then of St Nicholas at Sapperton in Lincolnshire. Well, this small church had no fabulously rich benefactor, and its modest size reflects its modest parish consisting of farms, cottages and seventeenth century hall. It dates from the late twelfth century (the north arcade), and has further work of the C13 and C14. The exterior, which is very crisp and neat, has all the hallmarks of a Victorian restoration that was a bit too enthusiastic. However, St Nicholas does sit very nicely in the unpretentious churchyard, with its mixture of stone and slate gravestones. I photographed the church on an afternoon when the shadows were lengthening and the low sun was saturating the colours of everything it fell upon. Snowdrops were peeping through the drifts of decaying leaves that had been blowing around the churchyard all winter. I composed my shot using the path as a lead in to the slightly off-centre building, and balanced the shot with the prominent gravestones and trees to the right.
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen
Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 11mm (22mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/640
Exposure Compensation: -0.7 EV
Image Stabilisation: On