Thursday, August 21, 2008

Summer morning churchyard

click photo to enlarge
Twice this year I've made the journey to the top of the tower of St Swithun, Bicker. The first was on a foggy, frosty day, and the second when it was warm and sunny, but slightly hazy. Only on that brighter day did I get a few photographs of the view over the the flat Fenland landscape.

The ascent of the tower starts by entering an internal low, narrow door that leads to steps spiralling up to the ringing floor. This level of the tower is where the bell ringers stand to ring the eight bells of the church's peal. It's a cosy place decked out, as these places often are, with photographs of previous ringers and records of notable ringing feats. A wooden ladder is needed to get to the next level of the tower where the bells are held in an elaborate and solid framework of steel and wood. Once there, contortions are required to get to a steel ladder up to the trap-door that leads out on to the roof itself. This is a shallow, lead-covered pyramid surrounded by the old stone battlements. Successive generations have inscribed names, dates and outlines of of their feet on the lead surface. The oldest date I recall seeing was from the nineteenth century, so I imagine the roof was re-covered in Victorian times.

It's said that from the top of the tower, on a clear day, 14 medieval church towers can be seen. On my second visit I could see (or imagined I could see - I'd forgotten my binoculars!) the big towers of Boston, Swineshead, Donington, Quadring, Heckington, Helpringham, Swaton, and Gosberton. However, I struggled to see others because of the tall churchyard and roadside trees, and the heat haze that hung over the horizon. A clear winter day, when the trees are bare, perhaps will extend the view to Billingborough, Horbling, Threekingham, Surfleet, Sutterton, and maybe Great Hale or Pinchbeck. I think I'll have to choose my day more carefully for my next climb!

Today's photograph was taken on a sunny August morning with the early sun throwing long shadows in the churchyard.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 11mm (22mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/250
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -0.7 EV
Image Stabilisation: On