Thursday, February 05, 2009


click photo to enlarge
Pinchbeck near Spalding in Lincolnshire doesn't take its name from the alloy of zinc and copper used as imitation gold, nor does it derive from the inventor of that metal, Christopher Pinchbeck (c. 1670-1732), the famous London clockmaker. His invention caused "pinchbeck", in the nineteenth century, to become a synonym for cheap and tawdry. However, his unusual surname makes it quite likely that some of his ancestors came from the Lincolnshire village. In the Domesday Book (1086) Pinchbeck is called Pincebec. Later spellings include Pyncebeck and Pincebek, suggesting that the name is a compound of the Old English pinc (minnow) and the Old Norse bekkr (beck or stream). Whether or not the stream that flows through Pinchbeck is still noted for its minnows I don't know!

The church of St Mary is the oldest building in the village. It has some re-used zigzag and billet moulding suggesting that a Norman (C11 and C12) church stood here. What we see today is a big church with a sturdy, finely proportioned tower (though it now leans somewhat) of the C14 and C15. This has a beautiful west doorway with an ogee arch with fleurons and much cusping. The exterior of the building is mainly fourteenth and fifteenth century, but inside is older. The nave arcades (see above) were probably heightened when the church was enlarged, but they mainly date from the C13. At the west end the exceedingly tall tower arch is C14. Much of the eye-catching roof is original, probably C15, with tie-beams and hammerbeams alternating, the latter having large angel figures (for another angel roof see here). The whole structure was restored by the eminent Victorian architect , George Butterfield, in 1855-64. He did a good job, making sensitive repairs and additions to the structure.

My photograph is a view of the nave from in the chancel. Behind me at the east end is the high altar. However, as is common today with the smaller congregations of churches, another altar has been set up at the east end of the nave near the pulpit. I usually make a shot into the nave, from beyond the chancel arch, a strictly symmetrical composition. However, here I went for asymmetry and stood to one side. Despite it being early February the light inside the church was excellent for three reasons: the south aisle and clerestory windows are clear glass, the sun was shining, and the churchyard still had a reasonable covering of snow that was acting as my photographic reflector, illuminating the building and, particularly, the roof and its old timbers.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 14mm (28mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/19
ISO: 400
Exposure Compensation: -1.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On