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I'm an architectural photographer. I travel around Britain interacting with special places. I work from my camper van called Woody and I share my experiences via this digest.

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Ludlow from St. Laurence's Tower.


I wish I could show you,
When you are lonely or in darkness,
The astonishing Light
Of your own Being!

From: ‘I Heard God Laughing:” Renderings of Hafiz: by Daniel Ladinsky.



As I drink my pint of Ludlow beer in the Rose and Crown I can see the courtyard outside. The white brick infill is yellowing under the glow of the wall lamps which means it’s time to go out on my walk. This will be a walk into the streets of a town that governed the Marches in Tudor England, but more than that, it will be a journey into twilight.

Thomas Hardy called it ‘the weakening eye of day’. The French describe it as: ‘entre chien et loup’ - between dog and wolf. We seldom see its magic in the summer; twilight slips past our shuttered windows while we’re fast asleep. Yet this is the time of year when it blesses our waking hours with its presence.

Whilst I walk along High Street, the buildings are tinted with a golden hue. As the sky softens, I can sense the day turning in on itself, the light tempered, beaten and bossed into thinness. This golden hour is turning blue.

And so the alchemy begins. The day is poised upon a knife edge. Windows glow like embrasures, and the light is so stoked into a pique of radiance that it bleeds into its surroundings.

During the blue hour the buildings are at their most permeable - a photographer’s paradise.

On King Street Ye Old Bull Ring Tavern is in transition. Twilight turns the mirrored grey of the snug window into a glowing stage-set with portraits as dramatic as a Shakespearean play. I stand transfixed, and watch the actors at work- until one man stands up and exits stage left, wallowed by a beer.

With the blue hour gone, the democracy of the sun is spun into a dictatorship of lamps. Along with the darkness, the air is saturated, heavy and damp, sheening the surfaces and muffling the cars. One vehicle cuts through Broad Street and splices the night into a carousel of light. The glow of its break-lights is mirrored in glossed doorways, metalled signposts and unlit windows. Another car conjures a glimpse of a house, rudely awoken from its slumber.

Spaces are emerging in this partitioned light where I can hide and observe. In Bell Lane I hear a knock on a door at the opposite side of the street. I can see a boy standing outside with a parcel in his hand. The door opens a few inches and the occupant peeps out - and then the door is flung wide open. The light spills out and frames an embrace that paints a story of kinship and connection. Shadows work towards beauty's end.

I put my camera away and head back to the van, but before I get there, I’m snared into another luminous vignette. Through the panes of a crooked window an artisan is at work, completely taken by his craft, unaware of the joy it brings to the voyeur outside.

Stood here in the shadows, my journey through the night has spoken to me.

Even though daylight gifts me with the clarity of light, the twilight, in all its intricate beauty, has taught me truly how to see.

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In the space of a few days I find myself immersed in the twilight of two remarkable places: Ludlow and York.

I'm in York to attend a festive get together of SPAB Yorkshire members, but before that I have a little time to visit cherished nooks - special places that I always frequent when I visit.

First stop is Micklegate.

I'm feeling peckish and opt for a cheese and ham toastie and peppermint tea from Teajuanas Cocina. This little timbered outlet is not too distant from the medieval shops that traded their wares along this street several hundred years ago.

I'm heading across the Lendal bridge and on to Bootham to my favourite bookshop. Janette Ray is for the architectural and art connoisseur. Over the years Janette has furnished me with books on photography, building conservation and the history of art. My heart leaps for joy when I see that that the shop is open.

I buy two books. One on English misericords and the other is a book by photographer Fay Godwin.

When I walk out of the shop, I notice a change in atmosphere. People are looking upwards and pointing. The road is too busy for me to cross to see what they're looking at, but I suspect it has something to do with the reddening glow reflected in the windows opposite. I find a gap in the buildings and look to the west - the sunset is flooding the sky with the most exuberant of reds.

I stop and think about where I can get the best shot of the sunset. Which building in York would match the majesty of that sky?

I put my photographer's hat on and map out the streets in my mind, flying over the places with my mind's eye. The minster is too high and hard set - the buildings along the riverside too far away - and then I see it: the perforated Gothic gable of St. Mary's Abbey, but I have to travel a half mile to get there.

The light is dipping fast so I run through the Christmas crowds past the King's Manor, along Dame Judy Dench Walk, through Museum Gardens and on to the Abbey.

People are photographing the ruddy glow on its west facade, but there's nobody on the east side.

I walk briskly over to the remains of the Abbey's footprint. Then I turn and look back at the vista unravelling before me.

It's just me on my own. I feel as though I've earned the view.

Instantly, I'm reminded of John Ruskin's words:

'Nature is painting for us, day after day, pictures of infinite beauty.'

With the sun set and the lights all twinkling, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas so I head to my final destination.

Christmas at York Mansion House

Built in the early C18th, the Mansion House was built as the principal residence of the Lord Mayor of York.

I spent a lovely evening with SPAB Yorkshire friends in a festive Mansion House.

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The Alternative Christmas Stocking Filler.

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Van Life Gallery
My van, Woody, is my time-travelling machine, taking me to some remarkable places that have altered my mind like wine through water.


Ludlow: Visitor Information, Events, Where to Eat, Accommodation, Things to Do, History
The Ludlow Website includes tourist information, events, where to stay, accommodation, restaurant guide and the Ludlow local business directory and much more.
Welcome to Mansion House – Mansion House
Welcome to York Mansion House, the official residence of the Lord Mayor of York at the heart of city society since 1732

"One needs a pair of socks on the needle at all times.."

An insightful podcast about knitting by somebody that dreams of houses every night.

I could listen to Brenda's pronunciation of Winter's Fern all day.

Brenda Dayne

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In essence I’m offering my professional services for free to historic locations in Britain.

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I remember walking through the streets of Helmsley this time last year and photographing a door and thinking: 'That would look lovely on my Christmas Tree.' As you do..

Some of my favourite doors that I've photographed re-imagined as Christmas decorations.

St. Mary's, Beverley
King's Manor, York
St. Mary and St. David, Kilpeck
All Saint's Church, Brixworth

Wishing you all a fabulous Christmas and a wondrous New Year!

I'm so grateful for your support

I put my heart and soul into the Genius Loci Digest and it takes a day a week to produce. With your support, I’m able to keep this digest free and public facing. 📸🏛🚐

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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.