Friday, January 23, 2015

Belton House

click photo to enlarge
I recently went to Belton House for the first time. This large country house is now in the care of the National Trust and is open to the public. However, it being a Monday in January only the gardens and grounds were open so we didn't get to see the inside. On returning home I read a little about the building and was surprised by what I found.

Nikolaus Pevsner describes Belton as "perhaps the most satisfying among the later C17 houses in England". I can only think that he is referring to the interiors because the exterior is decidedly eighteenth century in style and fact, the whole having been given, as Pevsner says, "the facelift of 1777-8 by James Wyatt". The neat stonework and layout of the south front can only be described, to my mind, as ordinary. And the fact that the north front is very similar, a couple of details notwithstanding, doesn't help. The "H" plan hints at the seventeenth century underpinnings, but to the casual observer the building wears an eighteenth century face interesting only for its lack of interest.

For much of our visit the sun lit the south front like a floodlight, good for showing off the warm stone, but bad for modelling the architecture. This view of the facade that overlooks the formal gardens appealed more with its surface patina due to the reduced light. I particularly liked the way the building sits in its carefully planned surroundings. As I took today's distant view of that elevation I had an idea that it would make a good candidate for conversion to black and white: the smooth, frosty grass, silhouetted trees, and the building's chimneyed and towered shape under a lightly figured sky all suggested it, and I'm quite pleased with the outcome.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Nikon D5300
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 22mm (33mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f8
Shutter Speed: 1/320 sec
Exposure Compensation: -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On