click photo to enlarge
The first time I saw Nevill Holt in Leicestershire was when I'd cycled up out of the Welland Valley from Drayton. I was breezing along cheerily, having left the uphill section behind me when it appeared between a line of mature, roadside trees. What was it? A country house? A private school? A little research showed that it had been both those things, and was also a small village of 28 people (2001 census).
The oldest part of this scenic collection of buildings is the church of St Mary with its Norman font, late C13 transept arch, sedilia and piscina, tower of C15, porch of 1635, and various parts from restorations of 1865 and 1878. However, parts of Nevill Holt Hall, the country house that is physically attached to the church, and constitutes most of the buildings seen in the photograph, also dates from the 1300s (hall and roof), a large bay window is from the 1400s and much else is C16, C17, C18 and C19: this is a place that grew with successive inhabitants -principally the Nevills, and in the C19 the Cunards (of shipping line fame). Incidentally, the large brownstone building on the right with the clock tower was the late C16 stables. Around 1830 the owners Gothicised much of the Hall's main elevation. In 1919 the house was sold and became a school. This closed in 1998, and by 2000 the building was once again in private ownership.
So what of the village? Well, behind this magnificent assemblage of buildings are a few houses, the dwellings of the small number of people who live in this lovely rural location. I took this photograph on a cool March day of blue skies and sharp shadows, when cycling was quite the best way of getting around. I composed my shot with the shadows of the roadside trees filling the grassy foreground, the Hall's facade stretched across the frame, and the blue sky and clouds above.
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen
Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 14mm (28mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/1000
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On