I seem to have spent a fair amount of time over the past year or two taking photographs of churches. This is certainly no hardship – to spend time alone appreciating a peaceful, historic and frequently beautiful building is far from unpleasant. It’s even better if you can call it “work”!
It won’t surprise you that I love noticing and trying to understand the history in a church. Very often, the story of an area is writ large in the fabric of the building. Sometimes that is very explicit, in memorials to famous or influential local people; sometimes more subtle, perhaps in the signs of damage to a building during a conflict of some kind. And at other times, it is implicit in the building itself – maybe in its redesign or extension in a new and contrasting architectural style, more suited to the needs of its own era.
When I photograph a church, I naturally try to get wide angle shots showing the building in its setting, the scale of the nave, or the majesty of soaring arches supporting a high roof. But at the same time, I also try to notice and capture the details, those small things which make a church unique – like the texture of the wood in an old door, the vibrance of a particular stained glass window, or a tiny architectural detail which some ancient craftsmen laboured over so lovingly.
The small selection of images which accompany this post were taken at the beautiful church of St Mary the Virgin in the village of Therfield in Hertfordshire, and I hope they capture some of the unique details which make it such a special building.