Monday, June 09, 2008

An undignified end

click photo to enlarge
Mankind, it seems, has an innate desire to hang on to parts of the past. This is, by and large, a good trait, because knowing where we've come from (the past), helps us to understand our (present) context, and can inform our course of action for tomorrow (the future). But, sometimes, we've just got to let go or we become like Dickens' Miss Haversham in "Great Expectations", forever looking back, trying to hold on to a past that has gone, and making fools of ourselves.

When, in the 1970s, the 3,500 acre reservoir that is now Rutland Water was created, several farms, many cottages, and Normanton Park was inundated. But, a decision was taken to "save" St Matthew, the Park's church. The nave and chancel date from 1764. The west end (including the tower) are by Cockerell, and replaced a medieval tower when they were added in 1826-9. Further alterations took place in 1911. As churches go it is not without interest, but it isn't of more than local architectural importance. However, Cockerell's work is held in high regard, and that was probably the decisive factor that led to its being preserved. But what a preservation. An artificial spit of stone and concrete was arranged around the ground floor of the church leaving only the upper floor, tower and roof showing.

Today St Matthew is the Rutland Water Museum, with stairs down to the floor below water level. It looks, frankly, ridiculous - the top half of a church poking up out of the rubble and water. Virtually any other course of action would have treated the building with more dignity than the one chosen . If funds were not available to disassemble it and reassemble it elsewhere, then the significant architectural parts could have been removed and erected on the shore, leaving the rest to its watery grave. When I came to compose a photograph of this sad building I noticed a fly-fisherman by the water's edge, and thought he'd make some good foreground interest and give it a bit of context.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 42mm (84mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f8
Shutter Speed: 1/640
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On