Thursday, June 12, 2014

The colours of stone

click photo to enlarge
One of the pleasures of visiting medieval churches is not only admiring what the medieval masons and sculptors did with the stone, but appreciating their choice of stone. "Country" stone, that is to say the local stone, is the choice of many churches for obvious reasons. However, churches in areas lacking building stone as well as larger buildings such as abbeys and cathedrals frequently sourced specialist stone from more distant locations - perhaps Caen in France, the isle of Portland, or the quarries at Barnack, or at Ancaster in Lincolnshire..

Time always shows whether builders chose well. I've seen churches with stone that has been crumbling for centuries and others where the mark of axe, saw and chisel are almost as clear as the day the block was first shaped. But, good building stone was not always available and the masons had to make do with what was supplied. Sometimes the local discolourations of a stone mean that the building takes on a patchwork hue, especially when a restorer has sourced original stone with which to make repairs. This example at Horncastle in Lincolnshire exemplifies that.

At Great Malvern Priory in Worcestershire multiple hues are evident in the stonework of the fine tower. The reds, browns, greys and creams reflect the geology of the area. The number of colours is multiplied by fresh-looking replacements sitting next to worn and weathered pieces and is complemented on the north side by the green of lichen. The colours greatly add to the charm of the building. I noted them the first time I visited the building fifteen or so years ago, and I determined to photograph them on a visit we made the other day.

© Tony Boughen

Camera: Nikon D5300
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 122mm (183mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f8
Shutter Speed: 1/200 sec
ISO:250 Exposure Compensation: -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On