For those that are new here: thanks for coming along..
I'm an architectural photographer. I travel around Britain recording and interacting with special places that have a spirit about them. I work from my camper van called Woody and I share my experiences via this digest.
Photographs and words by Andy Marshall (unless otherwise stated). Most photographs are taken with Iphone 14 Pro and DJI Mini 3 Pro.
🎉🥂🍾 1000 Subscribers!
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I am deeply grateful for your support and engagement, which has helped me carve out new paths in my career.
Thank you for being a part of this community, and for helping me grow as a person and as a photographer.
The digest has been the kernal to a whole host of interactions and insights with subscribers who regularly get in touch from every single corner of the globe.
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I'm eternally grateful.
1000 Milestone In the News
St. Mary, Beverley. This hole in the pew was made during WWII when a German bomber strafed the Saturday Market in Beverley, Yorkshire. The hole is still visible in the stained glass above. Bullet still lodged in pew behind.
"If you look at Paleolithic cave paintings, you see how people were depicted inside nature, not outside it. It was a kind of dream time. That's what I'm exploring."
It’s a day between commercial photo shoots so I have a bit of time to explore. I’m in Buckinghamshire and have some churches on my list that have been recommended by subscribers.
The first is a church at Hillesden, a small village just a few miles south of Buckingham. The day is dawning and the light is at its best.
Inside, the light is prismatic, percolated by the imperfections in the glass quarries and softened by a hazy bank of cloud to the south. It’s like being inside the eye of an insect. Trees that are moving in the breeze are motioning shadows on the north chapel wall.
I think I see a mark on the wall behind the effigy, but then it’s shrouded in shade, until the tree shadows move away, and there it is again.
It’s a consecration mark - a blessing in stone, made at the start of the building’s journey. It is barely legible - but it's there.
This light is the key to finding more treasures on the walls.
Were these the hands that carved the monuments?
Or were they the hands that fired the Civil War musket that put holes through the church door?
Or were they responsible for carefully fashioning a dowel to plug the draft?
Did they forge the snaking door clasp, itself a symbol of protection?
Or did they etch into the wall a pattern of great intricacy to ward off evil and protect the maker?
We are detectives.
I’m reminded of the thrill of the mudlarker and the detectorist when they find treasure; but surely these are greater finds? They reach beyond the silence of their presence, and reveal the magnetic pull of intent from somebody that lived centuries ago.
This space, this light, this time is dream time - where the invisible becomes visible, where the accidental and the intentional marks of others become corridors to the past.
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I've just finished a photo shoot at a construction project in the Cotswolds and have a full day to spare before another photo shoot in Westminster of a Georgian interior. This is the best case scenario - time to explore the landscape between the two sites.
I opt for a circuitous route through Buckinghamshire via a holy trinity of churches. Three churches that are very different in character but are of equal interest.
Click the box below to see the churches on a google map.
All Saints, Hillesden, Buckinghamshire.
The church at Hillesden has a lot to answer for. It is reputed that George Gilbert Scott, who lived nearby, said that it was this church that inspired his love of Gothic.
Curious mass dial?
Members can compare the tower at Hillesden with several other church towers of different dates in the comperandum:
C15th stair turret to the north chapel with its elaborately carved ogee arches complete with cusping.
The double height north porch has a fan vault to the interior.
Clasping snake door handle.
Hillesden was beseiged by Cromwell himself and the bullet holes in the door were fired by muskets from his soldiers.
The altar tomb of Thomas Denton and his wife (1560)
The Denton effigies have been damaged - probably by Cromwellians.
The memorial below (Alexander Denton) was designed just 26 years later than the Denton effigies and reveals the stylistic changes during that period from Gothic to Northern Renaissance classicism.
On the base of the memorial is another mark.
Members can view All Saints, Hillesden in glorious VR...
... and get a sense of the church in the ancient landscape from an aerial video:
All Saints, Wing, Buckingamshire.
I came to Wing in Buckinghamshire to see just one thing: the Anglo Saxon apse to the church. The apse is C10th and is thought to have been built for Aelfgifa, sister-in-law to King Edgar.
For me, this is more than just a building. With its classical references it betrays the power of Rome upon the imagination of the Anglo Saxon.
I take out my 300mm lens and pan in on the detail.
Indeed, from this viewpoint I could easily be in a marketplace in Rome.
Anyone for macchiato? ☕️
Members can view All Saints, Wing in glorious VR (close up to the Anglo Saxon apse)...
...and get a feel for the scale of the apse against the Gothic church in this aerial video:
All Saints, Leighton Buzzard.
I buy a sandwich in Leighton Buzzard but I can't find anywhere to eat it. It's raining, so I head for the porch at the church. A verger invites me inside.
"But I need to eat my sandwich." I say,
"Ahh, sit at the back of the nave." he says.
I bite into my sandwich and look up. Angels are hovering overhead. I hold on to my sandwich as if my life depends upon it.
I finish my sandwich and, to stave off a craving for cake, I set about exploring the church.
Immediately my appetite is piqued at a piece of graffiti depicting a woman waving a spoon at a man. They are thought to be Simon and Nellie, who are the traditional inventors of the 'Simnel' cake.
I've discovered the first of two things that are remarkable about this place:
If I were to become a student in the arts of medieval graffiti I would spend all my time in this church. It's full of it - including a consecration cross like that at Hillesden.
And also similarly to Hillesden - a wonderfully complex geometric pattern. It's the most comprehensive pattern I've come across.
It's not know what their purpose was, but some say that they are protective - that they form a web that draws evil inside and captures it within the infinite circle.
Some graffiti seems to replicate the geometry of the traceried window. I begin to ponder. Is there a relationship between the protective intentions of the hexafoil and the geometric circles in a stained glass window?
There's a bit of vernacular too - including King's faces, exotic birds and such.
One of the rarest types of graffito I have come across is a Solomon's knot - here found at the west end of the nave.
Some years ago I found a Solomon's knot behind a radiator at Deal Castle in Kent.
It is remarkable to think that there is a secret language carved and coded into the walls of our buildings that was understood from John o' Groats to Land's End.
The Choir Stalls
The choir stalls are C14th and are exquisite. There is some debate about their origin. Some say that they are from St. Albans - but my bet is on Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire - there are some striking similarities with those at St. Mary in Beverley in Yorkshire.
Misericords were built to support the chorister when standing and then shift down when the occupant needed to sit down.
Some of the hinges on the misericords are original.
They are often eleborately decorated with metaphorical carvings.
I've been lodging in some lovely locations, cheek by jowl to places that have their origins in ancient times.
One of my favourite meals in the van is the stir fry - quick and easy to do on a single hob. Cuts down on the washing up.
I have a few 'camper van' dedicated recipe books but this book is the best:
On my vloglist
Martijn Doolaard is a photographer, filmmaker and travel writer from the Netherlands. He finished two long distance bicycle journeys from Amsterdam to Singapore and Vancouver to Patagonia. Currently he is renovating and living in a remote stone cabin in the Italian Alps.
On repeat in the van: Human League, Louise.
Strap yourself in, let Woody do the time travelling...Members' Area
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