Wednesday, December 12, 2012

King's Lynn Custom House

click photo to enlarge
I've written about the Custom House at King's Lynn before. This distinguished building of 1683 is an outstanding structure in a town of many remarkable old buildings. What I haven't mentioned - because I didn't know it at the time - is that, though it was built in the latest restrained classical style showing the influence of both Christopher Wren and Dutch architecture, it also carried on an old tradition that is seen in many old, semi-public buildings. When the Custom House began its life (as a merchants' exchange) the rounded-headed, ground floor arches were open to the street in the same way that medieval guildhalls, town halls and grammar schools often were. The upstairs room, as with these precursors, was always enclosed, and it remains so today. When were the arches blocked up? I don't know, but it may well have been quite early in the building's history.

The classic view of the Custom House has either the dock basin and Purfleet Quay, or the statue of George Vancouver in the foreground. On my recent visit to the town, on a cold day with regular heavy showers, I looked for a different composition for the building. My first attempt was from a point near the pedimented doorway on the distant left of the photograph. However, the shot that I post today from further up the road, into the light, making the most of the sky, and with the gleam of water on the setts of the road and footpaths, works much better. I think it's a photograph that wouldn't work as well without the evidence of recent rain to enliven the foreground. The bicycle stands, though of little practical use in that particular location - I've never seen a bike fixed to them -  also help to give the image some depth.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 17mm
F No: f11
Shutter Speed: 1/80
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation:  -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: N/A