Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Old vicarages

click photo to enlarge
One of the common house names in England is "The Old Vicarage". This can be seen on buildings of various ages, from the sixteenth century to the early twentieth century. The adjective "old", doesn't usually refer to the age of the building in terms of years, but tells us that it is the former vicarage and implies that somewhere nearby is the new or current house of the local priest.

The church has to move with the times. Consequently the large Georgian and Victorian vicarages that were provided for the vicars, their families and servants, and which were designed to reflect the importance of the job and offer a suitable place for administration, receiving visitors and entertaining, were often found to be unsuitable and unsustainable in the twentieth century. They were frequently sold to a wealthy buyer or demolished and the land sold for housing. The proceeds from the sale was invariably more than enough to buy or build more suitable premises for the vicar and his or her family.

This has happened in Spalding, Lincolnshire. The old vicarage, a large Georgian house on Church Street, across the road from the medieval St Mary and St Nicholas, facing a conveniently placed gate in the churchyard wall opposite the vicarage's front door, was sold and new premises built on Halmer Gate just round the corner. The new house with garages and a separate parish office is undoubtedly more suited to the family and administrative needs of the current church. However, the modern buildings do lack the charm and style of the old one, particularly the late Georgian porch in the Roman Ionic style. I photographed this on a break from some shopping, captivated by the way the low sun emphasised the details of the facade, and the softer shadows of the churchyard trees as they fell on the pristine blue and white walls.

Incidentally, this building hasn't, to my knowledge, adopted the name of "The Old Vicarage" (though it may well do in the future); that is simply my title for today's photograph. Moreover, the new vicarage is called "The Parsonage", a rather old-fashioned name for such a dwelling..

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: LX3
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 11mm (52mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/1000
ISO: 80
Exposure Compensation:  -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On