Saturday, February 14, 2009

St Swithun, Bicker

click photo to enlarge
Yesterday found me taking advantage of the most recent fall of snow, the sun and the blue skies, photographing St Swithun, Bicker. This church is an interesting building, and, with St Andrew in the nearby village of Horbling, stands out amongst the tall spired Fenland churches of this area of Lincolnshire.

Bicker church is cruciform, but so too are many others in the vicinity. However, whilst most cross-shaped churches (in fact most churches of whatever shape) have a long nave and a shorter chancel, at Bicker this is reversed. Consequently, if you don't know the direction that you're facing it's easy to think that the west window is the east, and vice versa. Even the traditional cross surmounting the east gable end is no clue, because the west gable and both transepts have them too. The reason for this unusual configuration is that the nave is early and late Norman (early to late 1100s), and would have been part of the first, smaller, stone building on this site that was then extended to become what we see today: the rounded clerestory windows on the distant left of the building reveal the Norman origins. Interestingly the tower probably dates from the 1300s, whilst the chancel is essentially Early English (1200s), so the building was erected in a sequence that is relatively unusual. Of course, quite a few details of the building date from Victorian restorations of 1876 and 1893-4, and these go some way to pulling the disparate elements together stylistically, and making the original work a little more difficult to decipher. The architectural historian, Nikolaus Pevsner, in The Building of England: Lincolnshire, called St Swithun's a "truly amazing church", and so it is.

My photograph was taken from the point that regular readers of this blog will recognise as my preferred angle - the south-east corner of the churchyard. You may also notice that this classic viewpoint (for an English church) is, not unusually, blocked by trees, both a deciduous variety and a conifer, meaning that a full and satisfying view of the church is impossible at any time of year.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 17mm (34mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/500
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On