Saturday, July 04, 2009

Ludlow rooftops

click photos to enlarge
One of the best views that you can have of any old English town is from the top of its church tower. If the church is medieval or older then it is likely to be located at the heart of the settlement surrounded by the oldest buildings and the tight, narrow streets that they stand alongside.

A church tower that is open to the public - and quite a few are - not only gives a fascinating insight into a town, one that can't be had just by walking around it, but also limits the privacy of those who live in its shadow! I took quite a few shots from the top of St Laurence at Ludlow, Shropshire, that include people eating in "hidden" solitude in pub courtyards, window shopping in tight alleys, working in their enclosed gardens, or repairing windows and walls. All are seemingly unaware that their activities can be surveyed by anyone who pays the small fee to climb the spiral staircase to the summit of the 135 feet tall tower. However, today's photographs don't show these small human dramas: rather, they expose the materials, structure and layout of the closely packed roofs of the nearby streets. Plain clay tiles and slate seem to be the dominant roofing materials in Ludlow's centre. The proximity of Wales might account for the slate. Thatch would have been common in earlier centuries, but it is now mainly found in smaller settlements and country cottages and farms in Shropshire. Lead valley flashing is evident on many of the roofs, and is quite extensive between the three gables of "The Feathers." Note also, at the back of this hotel a bank of three air-conditioning units. Flat roofs are few and far between. The clay chimney pots in the usual cream or terra cotta seem, for the most part to be Victorian. What is interesting is those chimneys that have rectangular holes at the top of the brick stacks with no pot on top. The view from above gives a very real feel for the high density of building in settlements such as this.

On the first shot I deliberately kept the edge of the street market and the people at the top of the frame to give some scale to the image. The second is a companion piece to the post showing the facade of "The Feathers".

photographs & text (c) T.Boughen

Top (Bottom), where different
Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 40(80mm), 73(146mm)/35mm equiv.)
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/400, (1/500) seconds
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -0.7 EV
Image Stabilisation: On