Alan's Blog




My Visits to Old Churches

I have always been fascinated by old churches. In fact, the first photographs I ever had published was of Holy Trinity Church in Poynings, Sussex. This would have been at least fifty years ago and I was delighted to receive payment from Sussex Life magazine for reproducing two of my photographs. At the time I was living in Haywards Heath, the town where I was born, and had only recently started 'serious' photography – as a poorly paid young apprentice at the time. To get to Poynings necessitated a bicycle ride over the South Downs with one of my friends. In those days, churches were always unlocked so access was never a problem – the main problem was trying to find the switches to turn on the lights!

Photography in those days was a luxury few could afford as the cost of film and processing were a never-ending expense and I sacrificed a great deal to be able to take my hobby seriously, despite never having to-notch equipment, so the fee I received from Sussex Life was a great boost to my wallet as well as my confidence.

More recently, I've started to build a small website which has caused me to visit numerous old churches in Lancashire – and a lot more to visit in the future.

I've been asked "Why do you love visiting churches and cathedrals?"

Of course, I could rattle on about their history or their gorgeous stained-glass windows, but the truthful answer is that I really don't know. It's just something I've always done. I can only say that they have always attracted me in the same way that a magnet attracts iron filings!

As a boy at school, I went on a school trip over a few days and we visited a tiny Sussex church perched on the South Downs – I believe it was Lullington church, not far from Alfriston. I'd taken my dad's plastic 'box' camera with me and took quite a pleasant shot of the exterior of this lovely old church. Some years later I printed it in the darkroom of the 'evening class' in photography I attended for two years and, despite the poor quality of the lens in this camera, I always loved that photograph. A few years later I went on a trip with young people from the church I attended in Haywards Heath to St. Martha-on-the-Hill, on the North Downs, near Guildford where my dad took a few photographs with his 'plastic box'.

Once I'd advanced a few years in age and bought my second adjustable camera, this time a Pentacon Pentaflex SL, my first SLR, I walked to Lindfield in the snow and took a photograph of All Saints church at the top of the High Street looking wonderful with its coating of snow. I printed this photograph and presented it to my maternal grandmother as a Christmas present.

As a young man I once spent a few days travelling around in my tiny 1967 Morris Mini Van with my Yellow Labrador – sleeping in the back of the van with my wonderful doggy companion to keep me warm. This would have been around 1970/71. More than 50 years ago, which I find hard to believe. During this particular trip, I visited Durham Cathedral, Ripon Cathedral and York Minster and took photographs of each, both exterior and interior views.

As you can now understand, taking photographs of churches has always been one of my passions, although I have no idea why.

Examples of church photography can be seen on the website of MyLancashire at URL: MyLancashire, Lancashire, Touring and Travel in Lancashire


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