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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.
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About this time last year, I sat in the cool interior (during the heatwave) of this remarkable yew at St. George, Crowhurst in Surrey. Reputed to be 4000 years old. It predates the medieval church and christianity itself.
“Here grew willows and alders, their trunks twisted like giants’ sinews. Around them bark lichen bloomed blue-white in the darkness. It felt like a good place, where there was old magic.”
― Duncan Harper, Witch of the Fall
"Because in my mind I'm seeing starlight,
One more time for my imagination,
I'm not high, don't let me be misunderstood."
For me, more than any diamond-encrusted piece of jewellery, I find myself captivated by the visceral beauty of a lichen-encrusted churchyard. These places are such rare spaces because (in a process that defies our need for order and cleanliness) the sculpted cherub, the gothic script, and the turned baluster are extruded through curious combination of place, time, and nature into a wondrous visual broth that induces a profound sense of awe.
I feel the same kind of awe when I look at the stars in the sky. Indeed our lichen fields are a kind of cosmos. There is something about their beauty that is indefinable, otherworldly and seemingly infinite.
"Indeed our lichen fields are a kind of cosmos. There is something about their beauty that is indefinable, otherworldly and seemingly infinite."
I'm reminded of church that I photographed in Gloucestershire where, for the briefest of seconds, on the cusp of where night turns into day, I saw a kind of bioluminescence occur on the west front of the church. The lichen that occupied the facade became luminous enough to present the building like a fairground attraction. I didn't have my camera to hand - but I sketched out (in what I call a lichenograph) what I saw.
"The lichen that occupied the facade became luminous enough to present the building like a fairground attraction."
In many ways, I had been prepared for the event by a previous incarnation of bioluminescence inside the Saxon crypt at Hexham - where, after a 10 minute exposure in the dark, I discovered - completely by accident - a Milky Way of organic forms in every colour possible occupying the re-purposed Roman capitals on the wall.
I was overwhelmed by the fact that this dark and cold space for the dead, when observed through a different lens, is so completely alive.
Ever since then my perception of a world that I thought I knew has expanded exponentially and contributed to new ways of seeing.
I heard recently that there is a science of awe - a study of the impact of awe on our senses. Apparently when we experience awe - it contributes to our sense of wellbeing, increases our serotonin and fosters benevolence between individuals.
Perhaps, collectively, we should devote more time to seeking out and experiencing awe. It seems that we might find it at the churchyard down the lane.
And so, our churchyards are sanctuaries of awe. They are spaces that hold the potential to elevate our spirit and bring us closer together in appreciation of something greater than ourselves.
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Bosham, West Sussex.
From the sky, Bosham (which the locals pronounce 'Bozzam') looks like a lichenous form clinging to this spinning rock in the middle of the universe. When the tide is out, the silted rivulets look like rivers cutting through a vast Amazonian landscape.
Bosham is of this place rather than on it. For several centuries its evolution has been woven into the warp and weft of the interaction between sea and land and its history has been woven into the warp and weft of one of the most famous tapestries in the world.
The historic core rises and populates the land as if it were a natural form itself. The arrangement of its streets and the intricate patterns in its buildings resonate with nature's own fractal designs; and, as we have seen with the silted rivulets, it is all so beautifully scaleable.
From the macro to the micro:
Bosham is a place that perfectly matches the title of this digest. Beyond its organic beauty there is a palpable atmosphere that consists of aftershocks to historic events from the past. It was here that Harold Godwinson was born, and it was here that he embarked to visit William of Normandy in 1064, two years before that fateful day at Hastings.
Members can see two remarkable external aerial VR's of the church and village by clicking the box below:
Member's can see an aerial video around Holy Trinity and the village by clicking the box below:
Holy Trinity Church
At its epicentre is the church of Holy Trinity which is captured indelibly in the Bayeux Tapestry.
When we look at the first two stages of the church tower we are seeing the same building that Harold saw. It is said (and disputed) that Harold is now buried beneath the chancel and, if he is, he is buried next to the daughter of King Canute who lost her life in the mill stream nearby. Legend has it that Canute famously commanded the waves to go back at Bosham.
The Church Fabric
The church is built of Mixon stone (used by the Romans at Fishbourne), Top Chalk, Sarsen stone and Quarr stone rubble. The church is material witness to the pre-conquest world and the ensuing embossing of the post-conquest world of the Normans.
The font is C12th
It is thought that the chancel arch is early Norman - built when the loss of King Harold was still fresh in the memory.
Members can see the chancel arch at Holy Trinity in glorious VR by clicking the box below:
Is it me, or do the grimacing faces on the base of a Norman column in the north aisle have a smugness about them?
The C14th crypt has rib vaults made of Caen stone. Now a chapel it may have originally been a charnel house.
Members can see the crypt in glorious VR by clicking the box below (can be viewed on all devices).
The Buildings and Historic Fabric of Bosham.
A warehouse from the C18th that held rope and tackle. The outer boards are tar coated.
The Old Mill (now the sailing club)
The water mill at Bosham was mentioned in the Domesday book. It is in the mill leat that King Canute's daughter is said to have lost her life.
I had breakfast at the Pop In: a coffee, Danish and Elderflower press. Highly recommended.
The buildings and streets of Bosham - no words - pure scroll
Explore the Area this Summer
These are days of outdoor cooking - mainly stir-fry's and wraps.
On the evening before I travel down in to Bosham, I bump into @project.north.expo's rig - much envy. Built for colder climes.
I arrive at Bosham and dare to travel down the estuary road before I'm warned by a local that the road floods at each tide.
But I stop for half an hour, sit and read, and take in the view.
I find a safer spot for Woody in the car/boat park - which has plenty of parking. It's easier to park here and walk around the estuary with an emergency pair of wellies on your back-pack.
Listening in the van:
The Swans and Cygnets of Bosham
Strap yourself in, let Woody do the time travelling...Members' Area
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Photographs and words by Andy Marshall (unless otherwise stated). Most photographs are taken with Iphone 14 Pro and DJI Mini 3 Pro.