Friday, September 23, 2011

Landscape with church

click photo to enlarge
When I was a teenager I remember reading a book by the Dutch-American professor of history at Cornell University, Hendrik Willem van Loon (1882-1944). A prolific author, he specialized in writing books for younger people about history and the arts. Speaking of churches in the English landscape he noted that they fitted into it so well, better than was the case elsewhere. And it's certainly true, I think, that our churches do embellish the countryside and only rarely look like interlopers. Often it's the surrounding  trees of the churchyard that makes the church nestle into its village or fields. Frequently its the weathered native stone that seems right for both the building and  the location. And even where the church stands up tall and proud, clearly seen, the vertical accent that it adds to the view invariable looks complementary rather than dissonant. English painters long recognised this, and the likes of Constable, Turner, Cotman, and many others, were careful to include churches in their landscapes.

Today's photograph shows a distant prospect of the church of St Andrew at Sempringham, Lincolnshire. Standing some way from the nearest houses, out in the fields, it made a fine sight as we passed by on a recent walk. Parts of it date from the twelfth century, but fourteenth, fifteenth and nineteenth century additions comprise the rest. It wasn't always a solitary building. Until the sixteenth century a fine priory stood nearby but Henry VIII did for that as he did for so many, and today it must be enjoyed in splendid and picturesque isolation, the perfect subject for a passing photographer.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 80mm
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/800
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation:  -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On