Sunday, December 14, 2014

Churches and bowling greens

click photo to enlarge
Speaking of English scenes and John Constable (see yesterday's post), I've often felt that the view in today's photograph represents a certain kind of England. The manicured lawn (itself an English obsession), is actually a bowling green. Now bowls is another English obsession; just about every village has a green, and certainly every town and city has multiple greens. Beyond the example in the photograph are large deciduous trees and hedges that mrk the border between the recreational space of the green and the sacred space of both the churchyard and the medieval church of St Mary and St Nicolas. What makes it even more representative is the fact that the bowling green is part of Ayscoughfee Gardens that surround Ayscoughfee Hall. These are now a museum and park having formerly been the residence of one of the richest and most influential men of the town.

The conversion of the houses of the rich gentry into either public or semi-public spaces is a theme that is commonly found in England, and frequently such buildings and grounds are next to the Anglican church. The twin powers of the local clergy and the state's local representative in the form of the lord of the manor often sat shoulder to shoulder in this way, each buttressing the position and influence of the other and hence the dominance of both. None of this, of course, influenced my decision to take this photograph. Here I was motivated by the lovely late afternoon light, the contrast of the church's stonework against the dark sky, and the long shadows falling across the perfection of the grass.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Sony RX100
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 15.1mm (41mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f5
Shutter Speed: 1/250
ISO: 125
Exposure Compensation:  -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On