Saturday, March 14, 2015

Thornton Abbey and Wolf Hall

click photo to enlarge
During our return journey after a trip north, over the Humber Bridge into Yorkshire, we made a detour to look at the gatehouse of Thornton Abbey. This large, fourteenth century structure, made of bricks and stone, is the most substantial and significant feature that remains from the medieval Thornton Abbey that was founded by Augustinian canons in 1139. It is in the care of English heritage. Foolishly, prior to our visit we neglected to check that it was open and we were disappointed to find we had chosen a day when it was closed.

Consequently we were unable to enter the grounds and had to content ourselves with looking from beyond the locked gates and then across fields where there was a footpath. I wasn't too concerned because the light and weather weren't particular good for architectural photography. However, it did look like the kind of day when a black and white landscape could be made to work. As I looked at the building it wasn't the religious order who built the gatehouse that came to mind. Rather, it was Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII's chief minister and fixer, the man who set in train the Dissolution of the Monasteries as a means of separating the English church  from Rome and, at the same time, filled his king's coffers with the wealth that was appropriated.

Like many people in Britain we've recently enjoyed the BBC TV adaptation of Hilary Mantell's story of Cromwell based on her books "Wolf Hall" and "Bring Up The Bodies". The darkness of the tale as well as the dimness of the natural light in the indoor scenes, the latter something that annoyed quite few viewers, really appealed to me. Processing this shot, in which I increased the contrast and darkness of the scene, perhaps explains why I liked the director's approach to the indoor lighting in the TV series.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Nikon D5300
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 18mm (34mm - 27mm equiv.)
F No: f8
Shutter Speed: 1/800 sec
Exposure Compensation: -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On