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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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member powered photography - Andy Marshall’s Genius Loci Digest

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Green Man boss from the medieval cloisters at Norwich Cathedral.

I’ve been to many places that give you a wonderful glimpse of the past, but rarely before have I had the past glimpse back at me.


“If our interest in buildings and objects is indeed determined as much by what they say to us as by how they perform their material functions, it is worth elaborating on the curious process by which arrangements of stone, steel, concrete, wood and glass seem able to express themselves - and can on rare occasions leave us under the impression that they are talking to us about significant and touching things.”

Alain de Botton The Architecture of Happiness


“... the place has as many aspects as there are gradations in the light.”

Nan Shepherd. The Living Mountain

Today in King’s Lynn, I am witnessing a phosphorescence of pure light illuminating the surfaces surrounding me as if I am centre stage. If I were in the mirrored streets of Spinningfields in Manchester or Canary Wharf in London, I might not notice the light at all. As I walk through the streets of Lynn, it feels as though a switch in my brain has been turned on.

Le Corbusier said that architecture is made of ‘forms assembled in the light.’ He was, perhaps, talking of forms shaped by concrete: lithe and malleable. But as I stand on the gritstone staithe that leads down to the estuary, I sense that it is John Ruskin’s perspective on light that mirrors the joy of what I’m feeling here in Lynn:

'…it is in that golden stain of time, that we are to look for the real light, and colour, and preciousness of architecture.'

By associating light with the passing waves of humanity, Ruskin elevates our standing archaeology into the mythical. And indeed, on a day like this, there is an abundance of holiness in the mundanity of textured surfaces that Lynn throws up around every street corner.

I don’t think I know of any other place with such diverse materiality. Limestone, flint, and brick, ashlar, render, rubble, basalt and granite, mudstones, shales, grits and gravels, slate, schist, and gneiss.

Looking closely at the walls, I can see Norway or Sweden, for embedded within the walls are dots of ballast left behind by trading ships from medieval times. These stones that were once coursing in from the Baltic are now coursed through the fabric of a boundary or the facade of a house

The streets of Lynn are a tapestry of ordered complexity fused with a vibrant material diversity that breathes life into this ancient town and appeals to our inherent biophilia.

I am also being drawn to the echoes of those who have come before us, either through the ghost of a building, like a fly in amber, caught within another; or through the hints of stories that unfold through the architecture.

Some are intentional, like the symbols adorning the Minster, but most are delightfully accidental, like the layered narrative of a brick wall.

In this gentle, cumulative expression of a place, there’s a comforting act of continuity anchored in the surviving buildings that reflect the activities, aspirations, hopes, and fears of the people of the past.

These streets are living museums and they whisper tales of endurance and change, of lives lived and moments captured. And it is here, in this intricate dance of light and material, that King’s Lynn stands resplendent, a symphony of history and humanity.

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King's Lynn - Part One

King's Lynn: courtesy of OS Maps

King's Lynn Minster

St. Margaret's Church in King's Lynn is now known as King's Lynn Minster and is set at the heart of a rich historic quarter. The church dates from the C12th to the C15th and was originally established as a Benedictine Priory. Some Romanesque elements survive.

The interior view down the nave and into the chancel is dominated by the remarkable reredos which is made of wood and designed by Victorian architectc G. F. Bodley - installed in 1899.

Before we get there, there is a lovely Elizabethan screen built beneath the organ loft.

Before we get to the Elizabethan screen there's some intriguing carving on the bench ends in the nave.

The chancel has a wonderful parade of C14th and C15th oak screens interspersed with stiff leaf capitals and cheeky faces in the spandrels and mould stops.

Choir Stalls and Misericords

The choir stalls are a joy - full of life and were built between 1375 and 1376. They include depictions of Henry Despencer, Bishop of Norwich [1370-1407] and that of Edward the Black Prince and also Edward III.

My Photo Footprint in King's Lynn

Priory Lane

To the south, the church seems to fuse into its curtilage - that of the rear walls of a former monastic range belonging to the Priory originating in the C15th.

On the lane itself, the buildings tell their story through their facades - the insertions and deletions and survivals.

King's Lynn part two will be continued next week:


  • a remarkable church with an angel roof.
  • and one of my all time favourite doors

Members can see all of the King's Lynn Minster misericords and more of the amazing carving on the medieval choir stalls here:

Comperandum - Misericords
A nod to Banister Fletcher: Misericords

I lodged at Sandringham Caravan and Motorhome Club:

Had a divine lunch at Marriot's Warehouse which has an early C14 ashlar ground floor with C15 and C16 brick upper floor. It was probably a warehouse for the Hanseatic League.

marriottswarehouse – marriottswarehouse

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.


Stones of King’s Lynn - GroundWork
This is a resource about stones in King’s Lynn. It was inspired by the exhibition of work by the great Dutch artist herman de vries ‘on the stony path’. Starting from his remarkable collections of stones, earth rubbings and assemblages, we looked afresh at stones all around us. We ranged through King’s Lynn and beyond
Hobbyist archaeologists identify thousands of ancient sites in England
Exclusive: Bronze age remains and Roman roads among 12,802 sites discovered using latest technology
Inside the last of New York’s original artists’ lofts – in pictures
The last of New York’s original artists’ lofts

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BBC Radio 3 - The Essay, Cornerstones, Clay Bricks
Poet Fiona Hamilton contrasts clay’s different states, before and after it’s baked hard.
BBC Radio 3 - The Essay, Cornerstones, Flint
Alan Garner sparks with flint, the stone that has enabled human civilisation.


This time last year:

'There's a rap on the door. It's Caroline the architect - I'm still in my orrery. I exit the van via the rear door and hand her a rainbow baton we found earlier in the Orangery - left over from a wedding at the weekend. The tailgate hisses as it rises. I feel like Major Tom exiting an air lock.'

Andy Marshall’s Genius Loci Digest: 9 Jun 2023
There’s a rap on the door. It’s Caroline the architect - I’m still in my orrery. I exit the van via the rear door and hand her a rainbow baton we found earlier in the Orangery - left over from a wedding at the weekend. The tailgate hisses as it rises. I feel like Major Tom exiting an air lock.


✨ Updated with additional sites:

The Ancient Yew A Visitor's Guide - Members Only

Want to visit an ancient yew this summer? It is a magical experience. The visitor guide with maps and media has now been updated:

The Ancient Yew - Visitors Guide
The Ancient Yew - Visitors Guide

🎉 Misericords Comperandum has been updated!

Comperandum - Misericords
A nod to Banister Fletcher: Misericords

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

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King's Lynn Minster Altar Frontal.

Altar frontals often harbour designs that are evocative of the C20th -this one looks as though its from the late 1970's, early 1980's. Reminds me of the Sutherland Tapestry at Coventry.

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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.