Posts Tagged ‘Church’

Alfriston Church

February 13, 2016

This is another of my grandfather’s pictures and it shows my dad and aunt at Alfriston in East Sussex.


Alfriston is always very highly regarded as a pretty village. In my childhood it became something of a tourist honeypot. It is wonderfully situated, between the South Downs and the River Cuckmere and of course, being ‘Alfric’s Town’ it has history.

I’m not sure what Grandad was most interested in when he took the photo. He hasn’t shown the church to best effect but he has caught his children on a gnarled old tree. This must have been around 1929.


There’s Dad standing up tall and high with my aunt hanging on grimly rather lower down.

That tourist honeypot destination was not often visited by us. My dad preferred to find his own places, quiet and unspoilt by the masses. But we did visit over 60 years ago in 1954 when my dad decided it was cheaper to buy cards rather than take his own photos and here is the one of the church.


Hmm! It lacks the human interest of Grandad’s photo.

Kollafjordur Church

January 17, 2016

When we visited the Faroe Islands, up in the North Atlantic, we found we had entered a different world in many ways. This was a location short of many resources we take for granted and where people had to come up with workable solutions to many problems. One such was keeping the rain out of buildings – often solved by using turf as a roofing material as we see here on the church at Kollafjordur which is a few miles north of the islands’ capital at Thorshavn.

image002 This little church caught the eye and also the ear for a bell ringer was at work. This was a simple, single bell – not at all like the change ringing which I do at my local church.

Perched up in the little tower, below the date pennant for 1837, a man sat, tolling the bell.



A noisy job for the ringer. No wonder he wears ear protectors.

Nine Lessons and Carols

January 5, 2016

As we reach the end of the Christmas period, let’s look back to the start and an event in my local village. It’s an annual event, a little before Christmas day, and consists of nine readings, telling the story of Christmas along with nine appropriate carols. Most are sung by all but some are for the choir only.

I was there half an hour before the service for amongst other things I do I am a bell ringer and we try to give half an hour of what we think is a joyful sound before the service begins.

By the way, please don’t call me a campanologist. Ologists study something. I don’t particularly study bell ringing. I just do what I can. A couple of bell ringing newcomers have recently arrived in the village which is great. It means we have a fair chance of getting 6 ringers for our 6 bells. In fact this time we had nine ringers present which meant I could step out for one set and take a photo or two.

It’s never easy getting photos of ringers. Churches aren’t very brightly lit and that becomes even less so when only candles are in use. I got the agreement of the team to use flash but please don’t ever think of using flash photography with ringers without permission. It could dazzle and cause a disaster. And keep your distance. Bell ringers know what they are doing and accidents are very rare, but surprises or intruders can distract and damage to limb or even life could occur.

Apart from lighting difficulties, ringing areas are normally quite compact and inconveniently placed. It can be hard to get everybody well included in a photo.


There we have our ringers at work. Where you can see faces you can see the intense concentration. For those who want to know the bit of stripy, fluffy material that can slide through a hand without causing rope burn is called the sally. I don’t know why.


As you can see there is no sexism in bell ringing. It doesn’t actually require huge strength and so anybody can do it although some prefer to stick to lighter bells. Personally I find the lighter ones a bit flighty and prefer the heavier ones.

But this was just the preamble. As a ringer I sit right at the back if I do attend a service. It’s ideal for quietly taking photos.


There’s the candlelit church as the congregation sing ‘hark the Herald’.

And here, down in the choir stalls are the ladies of the choir as they sing the Coventry Carol.


I am not a regular attendee at church services but the church does form an important part of village life and I can feel quite at home there. After the service there was time for a chat, with mulled wine and mince pies. What better than to be part of a friendly community, enjoying a good old sing and companionship?

Imber Church

August 13, 2015

Considering how badly neglected this church was for 60 years, a remarkable amount survived and has now been made safe. Imber, of course, was a village in the middle of Salisbury Plain which was taken from the residents during World War II and never returned.

image002It remains a neat little village church, surrounded by its graveyard. As we approach the church there is a recent war memorial, commemorating the men of Imber who served and those who fell in World War One.


There are also graves. How sad that families had to leave homes as well as loved ones in graves.


John Meaden who died in 1906 aged 72 had been born in Imber and lived there all his life. So had his parents before him. Forty years after his death his grave, effectively, was lost to the family.

Inside, the church is normal enough – except it is in use for displays and sales.


But as a bell ringer, I do like the belfry which had new bells installed a dozen or so years ago. Bell ringers’ changes, dating from 1692, are still painted on the wall.


It isn’t the only wall work in the church.


The picture, no doubt, tells a story but just what the story is I don’t know.

As I left Imber the bovines by the vedette had become female.


What delightful beasts – whatever the breed.


Actually, there was a young male cow about. He looked as if he knew what his life was about!


The cow whose rear end he was sniffing gave every impression of being unimpressed and uninterested in this little fellow!


Hadlow Down

October 8, 2014

We were on our way to my sister’s funeral and our route took us past Hadlow Down Church. It isn’t a building I like all that much. It dates from the 1830s and was built in Gothic Perpendicular revival style. I would pass it by if it weren’t for family connections.

I have two relatives buried there – great grandfather James and his daughter Hephzibah.


The wooden memorials are long gone – never seen by me – but they live on in my mind and I think I know where these two graves were. In an earlier blog post I showed an orchid on the spot where great grandad was buried. I’m not sure what the 2014 flower is.


Hadlow Down graveyard is regarded as a prime wildflower and wildlife spot. A red admiral butterfly was enjoying the blooms.


Inside, the church is actually quite decent.


Yes – a pleasing simplicity. Now inside the church there is a war memorial – or rather two different ones. One recalls the people killed in the world wars. Another lists all those from the parish who fought in WW1.

There’s a fair chance I have actual relatives amongst the 88 men listed on this document but I shall pick on a small group, related to me by marriage. My grandad’s only younger sister married Walter Pope of this parish.


The couple married soon after the end of the war, in December 1919 and emigrated to Oz in 1921. I have quite a collection of second and more distant cousins in Oz.

The other Popes listed are all Walter’s brothers and so were two more, listed a bit further down.


I can find relatives in all sorts of places in East Sussex.

Thornham Parva

June 1, 2014

This little village in Suffolk sounds like something out of a P G Wodehouse novel. I can just imagine Bertie Wooster finding himself in a country house at Thornham Parva where he would, inevitably, have got engaged to a girl by accident, had a row with Jeeves over the colour of spats to be worn and eventually he’d realise that Jeeves had sorted out all problems.

That would be fiction. Let’s enjoy the church as it is (or was in 2009).


This is the sort of small, solid looking church that I can approve of. The fact that it is under a thatched roof adds to its charm and so, too, do the primroses growing in profusion.

Inside the church there are medieval wall paintings.


Aha! A wheel and that’s something for a happy nerd to enjoy.


And an oil lamp too! Now that’s superb.

In fact everything is so idyllic and perfect – except for a misplaced pylon.


Oh well. We all need electricity – even in Thornham Parva.


Architectural Curios

March 28, 2014

I like architectural curios. I think I mean by that I like features or whole buildings, with or without a real purpose, where efforts have been made to make things interesting for the observer.

I recently came across the corbel table at Studland Church, down on the Dorset Coast near Swanage. Actually, we had gone to Swanage, but when there we realised there was a good bus service to Studland (and beyond) and as we are of the bus pass generation we decided we’d go to Studland, take a walk there and then come back. Studland is a place where you pay quite a bit to park. This way we could leave the car in Swanage where, in winter months you can park cheaply.

And that may have left you wondering what a corbel table is for long enough. It isn’t a table to sit at and eat off. It is, actually, the support for a roof. Some churches have gone in for carvings of all sorts to help support the roof and Studland is one of them,


That gives the idea. Plain lumps of stone could have been used, but why not make them decorative.


There are faces – human and others.


Some portray activities you might not expect on a church.


That’s as far as I’ll go, but other carvings are (or were when new) grossly vulgar.

Of course, these carvings had a purpose – warning of sins and dangers.

Some might say the church is a little austere.


You have to look for the details to realise it has architectural curios and is a work of art.

Lullington Church

September 1, 2013

Lullington is in Sussex. There isn’t really even a village, but less than a kilometre east of Alfriston, a lonely little church stands. It is known as the church of the good shepherd, Lullington. It is not far from Lullington Court which is surrounded by a few properties.

Arguably, this church is the smallest in England and no doubt that is why it attracted people to it.

Its smallness is due to most of the church having been burned down, probably in the time of Cromwell. The former chancel was rebuilt as the entire church. It can seat a congregation of twenty.

My first photo was taken by grandfather.


It’s a timeless photo of the little wayside church.

A second photo shows a couple of ladies at the church on the same occasion.


Sadly I have no captions for these photos – indeed, I only have Grandad’s negatives so I cannot be sure who these ladies are.

But I feel sure my dad was on this visit and that it was made in the 1920s. A generation later, in 1954, I recall that there seemed to be a real need in my dad to visit the place and we did, whilst at camp that year. So here is dad’s photo from 1954.


Dad’s photo is from the other end of the little church and he has found some summer leaves to frame his view.

The church, of course, is still there and still looks the same. It must be time I visited it again!

Church of our Lady of the Wayside in Connemara

May 4, 2013

Back in 1971 my wife and I honeymooned in the west of Ireland. Out in Connemara, in the middle of nowhere, there was a stunning modern church – The Church of our Lady of the Wayside. Of course, I took a photo using my Canon Demi – the little camera that let me get 72 colour slides on a 36 exposure film. For the real nerds, I used Agfachrome film which always seemed to give me better results than Kodachrome.


I’m never going to say that old is good and new is bad. Some pretty drab buildings were erected in the 60s, but I found this one simply superb. It’s not that it is a religious building. It just has panache and style that I like.

My wife, in her little mini-dress looks good too!

We celebrated our Ruby wedding anniversary by revisiting the area and I’m pleased to say that church still looks good.image004

Sadly, the weather wasn’t quite as wonderful but my wife still looks fine. I can do without ‘Stop and Pray’ signs. These things are a matter of personal choice.

The cattle grid of 1971 appears to have gone. Does this say something about a change in agriculture.


Being bold over 60s, this time we ventured further into the church and found an opening plaque.


I love the ceiling and the glass.


In fact, it’s just delightful all round.

The prettiest Kirk in the Faroes

April 15, 2013

The title here is in the words of my late father-in-law, Doug. As an RAF radio officer he was based in the Faeroe Islands towards the end of World War Two. He has a picture of what he called Sandvaag Church on the island of Vagar. This was the only one of the islands where an area flat enough for a runway could be found. The island was thus crucial to control of the North Atlantic. Here we see a page from Doug’s photo album.


We visited some 60 years after Doug was there and we probably agree – it is a very pretty church. Of course, we don’t have to tell our viewers that the church is red and white.


There’s a similar view in 2005. The church would seem pretty well identical but the village of what now gets written as Sandvagur has clearly grown.

Doug also took this picture.


And once again, we have the 60 years on shot as taken by me. I wasn’t planning then and now shots so my angle isn’t identical but the growth in the village can be seen.


Those houses with a green roof have the very traditional turf roof. That’s grass growing that gives the green colour.

No doubt I’ll find more images of these fantastic islands from time to time.