Old Bolingbroke – Where East Meets West – Part 7

It was a gloomy day when I set out with the intention of covering Old Bolingbroke, East Kirby and Snipe Dale.  The weather was really not conducive to photography, and it was very cold.  The water in the moat round the castle was frozen, and so I made the decision to return home after only visiting the castle and church.

The village of Old Bolingbroke lies in a broad valley of the Lincolnshire Wolds, and is not far off the Prime Meridian.  It is three miles West of Spilsby, and has one church – that of St Peter, and St Paul.  It is also the home of Old Bolingbroke Castle.  To the southwest a hill known as Kirkby Hill is topped with a former windmill, that sits just within the parish boundary.  So much for an introduction….. Castle First

Bolingbroke Castle was one of three built by Ranulf de Blundeville, Earl of Chester and Lincoln, in the 1220s after his return from the Crusades (the others being Beeston Castle, Cheshire, and Chartley, Staffordshire).  After Blundeville’s death, the castle remained in the ownership of the Earls of Lincoln and was later inherited through marriage by John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster.  It is now owned and maintained by English Heritage.

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John of Gaunt and his first wife, Blanche, lived at the castle during the 1360s. Their son, Henry of Bolingbroke, was born there in 1367.

Henry had a tempestuous relationship with Richard II and was exiled in 1397. He returned to England after the death of his father in 1399, enraged that the king had seized the estates he had inherited. Richard was in Ireland, attempting to quell a rising, when he heard of Henry’s return.

These events marked the end of Richard II’s reign. Henry of Bolingbroke was encouraged to claim the throne of England from his unpopular rival, and Richard was imprisoned. Soon afterwards, Henry was crowned king as Henry IV.

There is no documentary evidence to suggest that Henry IV ever returned to his birthplace.

The main function of the castle during the 15th and 16th centuries was as an administrative centre for the estates of the Duchy of Lancaster. The current names of the towers, for example the Auditor’s Tower and Receiver’s Tower, refer to their use during this period.

Surveys undertaken at the castle in the 17th century show that only a few of the towers then remained in use and that the enclosing walls were extremely dilapidated.

Bolingbroke Castle is a prime example of 13th-century architectural design and is described as an ‘enclosure’ castle. Such castles are characterised by curtain walls with towers enclosing a courtyard. Within this courtyard there would have been timber-framed structures, including a great hall and service buildings, evidence of which was found in excavations during the 1960s.

The south-west tower, which is now known as the King’s Tower, was rebuilt between 1444 and 1456 on an octagonal plan. By this time, the castle was more than 200 years old, and this remodelling represents an attempt by the owners to express their wealth and importance.

From the Auditor’s Tower can be seen the Rout Yard – the field to the south of the castle – which contains several earthworks, including a rectangular enclosure.

Debate continues as to the original use of this earthwork, which may have been a fishpond, an animal compound or a 17th-century fort.

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The Church of St Peter and St Paul – Old Bolingbroke

Seating about 250 people, the church was built of traditional Spilsby sandstone c1363 by John of Gaunt and was originally three times its current size.

The church suffered at the hands of Oliver Cromwell and fellow parliamentarians as they laid seige at Bolingbroke Castle in 1643 and was restored and the north aisle added in 1889.

In the centre of the village is a rose garden, and is depicted the Shield of the Duke of Lancaster.

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The Royal Village of Old Bollingbroke. The shield bears the arms of Edmund first Earl Of Lancaster. These are the arms of theDuchy of Lancaster who presented the sheild to this village on August 4th 1966 in commemoration of the birth in Bollinbroke Castle in 1366 of Henry Bollingnroke Duke of Lancaster. King Henry of England. The Roses are the original rose of Lancaster grown in Provins and adopted by Edmund as his emblem in 1280. They are a gift to the village from the mayor and people of Provins. March 1967.

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The text from the above plaque is shown inbetween the two images.

Next time – East Kirby Airfield – home of ‘Jane’, the Lancaster, and site of a Prime Meridian marker stone.

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It’s about the Light (and the weather)

How often do you hear the phrase “I only shoot in the golden hour”, or alternately “I won’t shoot in the middle of the day”?

I’m constantly surprised by these remarks, because, if you think about it, it only leaves a few scant hours to shoot in the Winter, and it must knock at least 12 hours off your Summer schedule too.

Life goes on, and light goes on, even during the day – and at mid-day too.

I grant you that good light is great, and when it happens, and you are there – the images, you just know, are going to be amazing. The caveat is, that this great light, has to have something great on which to fall.  No subject equates to no picture.

This week, (early in February) the weather in the UK has been pretty grim.  The folks down South seem to have had the worst of it, but up here in the micro climate that is the East Coast of Lincolnshire – we didn’t get a lot of weather as such.  What we did get was a blast of freezing fog, grey sky, sleet, and as I type a smattering of snow.  ( And even as I finish that sentence – the snow stops and the sun comes out)……..

However, I digress – I had to go out – I had an appointment that I was not able to change, or postpone, I had to go.  The roads were icy (I’m three miles from the nearest main gritted road), the fog was thick and patchy, and if I hadn’t had to get out, I’d have stayed in and watched the fog!

So, when I did get the car out, I thought I’d take the camera….. just in case.  turns out it was a good thing I did.

Appointment finished about 10am, and the fog was still freezing – the car said -5 but I thought I’d head out to the coast.

First impressions were not thrilling, and the cold air took my breath away.

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None the less, I enjoyed the lead lines fading away into the distance.

It was heading up to 11am by the time I arrived at my next location – which I swung into on impulse.  It’s the Country park, which is usually chock full of dog walkers and joggers.  The paths were OK, but the car park itself was lethal.

The hoar frost made everything look much more beautiful, and the low light gave everything an air of peace.

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By changing the white balance on the camera from sunny to cloudy, it warmed the pictures up a little but still allowed for that feeling of cold.

Moving around the lake to the jetty I found that by shooting low – (this means sitting in the frosty grass by the way), I was able to get my favourite shot of the day.

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A tweak or two in photoshop, add a vignette, and I’m done.  It’s lunchtime.  The light is directly overhead, it would be harsh but for the fog (now lifting) – it’s revealed the textures in the icy water and in the wooden stumps.  There’s no cloud, so I’ve not shown much of the sky.

All in all, I’m glad of the appointment – I’m glad I shot in the worst part of the day – chose the wrong weather, got cold, and wet.  It was worth it.

Get out in the ‘weather’, whatever it may be.  You just don’t know what will be revealed.

Where East meets West – Part 6

It’s Sunday – January 20th – it’s minus 4 outside – it’s frosty, and the light I know is going to be fabulous.  I drag my other half out of bed and announce that we’re going out.  “Where?” he says…. “To the Meridian of course”.

I’m retracing some of the route I took the other week, but taking in the village of Hagworthingham.  This historic village nestles on the edge of the Lincolnshire Wolds in a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The important and beautiful Snipe Dales Country Park is adjacent and Hagworthingham is situated approximately equidistant from the market towns of Horncastle, Alford and Spilsby.

Snipe Dales is right on the Meridian, and I’ll be visiting there another time.  We had to stop at the ford though just outside Hagworthingham, and the cold seeped into my hands and feet – out of the sun, and near water, the temperature plummeted and we got a move on quickly…

Next – was Stockwith Mill and Bridge.  The 17th Century Mill was run for over 30 years as a tea room, but recently it has closed, and the property has been sold.  I would have loved to have photographed the mill and included the overshot waterwheel (which was last used in the 1950’s).  As it is, I had to make do with images from the main road.


The mill used to have a small museum which included artifacts which belonged to Alfred Lord Tennyson.  I have seen some beautiful photographs of this house, but sadly it’s all marked as private now, and I could get no closer.

On the route back, I decided to stop again at Somersby – as I’d seen a lovely tree lined road, which I didn’t photograph last time, as the light was dull and flat – today was much better, and having got the trees – I looked around where I had parked the car.


I’d parked in what looked like a small quarry – though very overgrown – and I clambered up the rocks to see the view from the top – what I didn’t notice on the way up was all the carvings in the rock face – and because the sun was low still, it highlighted the names engraved there.  It didn’t seem to be random graffiti.  You would have had to have taken tools to inscribe your name so deeply in the rock.


It has obviously been going on for generations, and I wondered why, and how it came that people travelled to this really out of the way place to carve their names on the rocks.

Next time, a bit further South still, to  Bolingbroke and East Kirby.


You can follow the tour on Google by clicking this link

Has Photography been Trivialised?

I was reading an article the other day about the number of photographs that are taken each  year, and in addition the number of photographs with people in them, who don’t know that they are IN them.

A bit of research took me to the oldest known photograph with people in it.  It was taken in 1838 by Louis Daguerre, and it shows Boulevard du Temple, in Paris.

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The street is lined with lamps and trees, and in the middle of the frame is a tiny figure. A man getting his shoe shined, who likely had no idea his image was being captured at all. (In fact, Boulevard du Temple is and was a busy street. When Daguerre took the photo, there were carts and people streaming up and down the street and sidewalks, but only this one man shows up because the photograph had to be taken over the course of 10 minutes. Only the man standing still shows up after such a long exposure.)

A lot has changed since then – think of the numbers of photographs taken each day, and uploaded to Facebook, or shared with applications such as Snapchat. Facebook revealed in a white paper that its users have uploaded more than 250 billion photos, and are uploading 350 million new photos each day.  It’s a number that I just can’t get my head around.

Another way to think about it (and data here from another blog I read) – more photographs are uploaded every day, than existed in total 150 years ago – and that’s just the ones that are uploaded.  It doesn’t count all the ones stored on hard drives.

Images are becoming almost mundane – it’s all been done – and much like the UK debt, they can only increase with the passing of time, especially if you think of the numbers of mobile phones being used as cameras.

I do wonder, at what point will the number of images being taken, become so overwhelming that the medium of photography will become trivialised and border on meaningless.

Already it is getting harder and harder to find images that are unique, and photographically exciting.  The rise the in popularity of photography started to skyrocket around the year 2000 with the production of the ‘smart’ phone.  Photography is now moving forward so fast, that it’s likely to be tripping up over its own feet.

Has the magic disappeared?

I certainly think that some photographers have started to become lazy.  For example, take the photographing of UK wildlife – if you wanted photographs 20 years ago – you had to go out and look for it yourself.  You had to learn skills.  Tracking, hunting, understanding your subject.  Now, if you want a photo of, say, a red squirrel, you just look on line, and pay someone to set up a hide for you – supply the requisite nuts – and maybe even tell you what camera settings to use.

And of course it’s even easier with a digital camera – you can afford to make mistakes and use the wrong settings.  Just take a lot of images, and if it all goes wrong, pay again, and shoot again.   The comment “oh, it’s another red squirrel”, was not one  you would have heard even 10 years ago, but it is much more prevalent now.

For me, the act of being a photographer is much more than just recording my day to day life, and posting my lunch on Instagram.  It’s about the excercise of the process, rather than the result of the process.

A commitment to follow the path of art can be a thrilling one.  It’s not about the technology (though as I have said in the past, it can help), it’s about the making of the image, and I still find this to be the very best part.

I’ve also found over the last 18 months or so, that entering competitions has lost some of its flavour.  I see so many changes and developments in the different categories of the competitions, and just can’t keep up with all of them.  Not that I’m expected to I suppose.

On the other hand, I find the new technologies to be tremendously exciting – the advent of the mirrorless camera has provided me (and a good number of others) with a new found freedom.  They are lightweight, compact, and the images are massively superior to some of the older DSLR cameras out there – and when I say older, I don’t mean THAT much older either.  The ability to throw a small camera into a bag and walk out and shoot has been something I missed for a long time.

My first camera was a Sony Cybershot with 3.2 Million Pixels.  It used the (then fashionable) memory stick.  Easy to stick in my pocket – it got used a lot.  Then along came the bridge camera, and later my first DSLR  – the Canon 350D – still reasonably compact – but then the Canon 5D, and later still on to the Canon 1Series.  Each time they got bigger, heavier, and the lens followed suit.

The advent of mirrorless was only on the fringes of my perception for a long time.  Then suddenly Fuji, Sony, Olympus, and others,  produced a range of gear that, in the end I had to take notice of, and the purchase of the Fuji X-T2, and now X-T3, has encouraged (and allowed) me to shoot even more.

So, has photography been trivialised?  To some extent I would think so – but in the same breath, I think there is still room for the serious shooter, and I’m looking forward to browsing Instagram, Facebook, 500px and other places for my next batch of inspiration.

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A16 towards Tetford

 

Where East Meets West – Part 5

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Continuing on my journey – following the Meridian (or as near as – as the mood takes me) – we wandered over towards Tetford.  We parked up, after noticing a disused chalk quarry with lots of signs warning us of the dangers therein, so of course we had to take a quick look.  I hasten to add at this point, that we didn’t actually trespass, or climb over the wire – but there were photographs that we could take from the roadside.  I didn’t much fancy falling over the cliff edge.

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The site must have been a very busy one in the past, and we could still see the weigh station scales by only scrambling up the grassy bank.

I did a bit of a seach about this site, but could only discover that it was still in operation in 1970, but  not when it closed.  It was worked by Singleton Birch Ltd for the cretaceous Chalk to be used for industrial chalk and lime.

So, with the weather looking like it might get better – we pressed on towards Sumersby – the birthplace of Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

The whole area round Somersby is quintessentially English.  The sort of place the J R R Tolkien would have felt at home in – and with village names like Bag Enderby – even more so.  I think that Bilbo Baggins should have set up home here.

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There has been a church at Somersby since the 1200’s, and this one is built of local Splilsby Sandstone. Alfred Lord Tennyson was born – and spent the first 28 years of his life here in Somersby.  His father George Clayton Tennyson was rector of St. Margaret’s, Somersby and of its namesake in the neighbouring village of Bag Enderby for 23 years until his death.  Pictures of that later.

Inside the church belfry was discovered  graffiti which simply says ‘AT 1837’. Was this Alfred signing off? The family left that year and he never returned.

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The statue of Tennyson is to the West end of the Church, and I was able to capture this silhouette as the light came through the window.

St Margaret’s sister church and namesake in nearby Bag Enderby, is also of greenstone and has several interesting features such as segmental window arches of note and a perpendicular octagonal font.  Alfred Tennyson’s father was rector of both churches and would walk between the two, and deliver long and impenetrable sermons at both.

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Tennyson himself spent many years wandering through this idyllic landscape composing his poetry as he went.

On the way home we decided to visit Ashby Puerorum – the name caught my eye on the map, and it’s not far off the Meridian Line, so although the light was fading, and it looked like rain – we went for a look……

Ashby Puerorum owes its unusual name to a 13th-century Bishop of Lincoln, Oliver Sutton, who renamed the village when he decreed that all profits from the living here should go to support the choirboys of Lincoln Cathedral. The name ‘Ashby Puerorum’ translates loosely as ‘the little boys’ Ashby’. The connection is remembered over 7 centuries later, for the choir still sings at St Andrews church occasionally.

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The village dates to at least the late Saxon period and was mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 when it was owned by Bishop Odo of Bayeux, William the Conqueror’s half-brother. At that time it was called Ascheby, meaning a farmstead where ash trees grow. It supported a population of 9 villagers, 2 smallholders, and 14 freemen.

In the church tower are a pair of early medieval bells. The oldest bell is said to date from around 1150, which would make it the oldest surviving bell in the county. The church is set beside a farmyard and from the churchyard there are excellent views out over the Lincolnshire Wolds.

We ended our day, as the rain started at Brinkhill –

The church  is dedicated to St Phillip  and is a Grade II listed building dating from 1857.  In the churchyard stands an ancient listed churchyard cross, the base of which dates from the 14th century, with a 19th-century alteration.

The Greenwich Prime Meridian line passes through the village.

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I hope you are enjoying the Meridian journey.  I’m hoping for better weather as time goes on, and hopefully at the end of it all, I can put together a talk for camera clubs, and anyone else who might like to see it all.

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Where East Meets West – Part 3 – Louth

This last week or so, I’ve tried to continue my quest to follow (pretty much) the Meridian Line, as it crosses the county.  The weather hasn’t been that good, so I might have to revisit a couple of the places.

However, I started the next section in Louth. The Greenwich Meridian passes through the town and is marked on Eastgate with plaques on the north and south sides of the street, just east of the junction with Northgate, although this location is known to be incorrect as the line actually passes through a point just west of Eastgate’s junction with Church Street.


There is a further marker in the “Gatherums” and more information about Aswell street, and the Gatherums, can be found HERE .



Outside St James Church, stands Meridian Man, a relatively recent sculpture depicting the proximity of the East / West meridian that runs close by.

He is one of three figures created by sculptor Lawrence Edwards and book artist Les Bicknell, both of Suffolk.  The others were outside the library, and the third at Kidgate School.

I need to return to Louth in better weather, to include more images of the town, and surrounding areas.

In the meantime, the full collection of images, as they grow, can be found on my website…. Please click below….

The Meridian Project

 

A Lesson in Humility

I have brazenly stolen the title of this blog piece from another blog that I read – to remind me what photography is all about, and how we (as photographers) sometimes forget that a lot of the images we take can be  mostly due to the actions of others.

When we go out as a group – we have to remember that sometimes it was one person who organised the trip, and without them we didn’t get to do the shoot. It was maybe a different person who drove  you there, and yet another who suggested that rather good lunch in a cafe / pub.

There are the mentors, the friends, the people who just encourage you – the ones who are there for you no matter what.  The ones who don’t always tell you that your photographs are ‘amazing’, but actually tell you to get a grip, and realise you’re not as good as maybe you think you are.

Plus the ones who tell you that you ARE in fact better than you think you are, and push you on your way.

These then are all the people I want to thank for my photographic trip through 2018:-  I can’t name all of them, and besides if I forgot one name, I’d be eating more humble pie than I could comfortably consume – but I’m sure you know who you are.

So….. to all my family (they have to come first after all), the friends, the mentors, the groups, the naggers, the pushers.  The drivers, cafe finders, sweet suppliers, makers of phone calls, companions, and supporters.  Models, make up artists, dressers and lighters.  The photoshop gurus, lightroom experts, camera tutors and computer experts.  I thank you from the bottom of my heart.  Without you I couldn’t be the photographer person I am today.  I certainly wouldn’t have achieved as much as I did during 2018.

So, as this year comes to a close – remember that without family, friends and naggers behind you – the world would be a pretty dire place.

Take care everyone, and enjoy 2019…. because it’s coming, whether you are ready or not……

I’m ending with probably one of my favourite images taken this year. One that helped me achieve my ARPS in October.

See you on the other side……..

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Where East Meets West – Part 2

If you trace the Prime Meridian from the North Pole, heading South, the first landfall you will make is on the East Coast of England.  Here, a 306-mile (493-kilometer) footpath is marked off following the Meridian line as closely as possible. Dubbed the Greenwich Meridian Trail, the long-distance walk follows the invisible geographic marker from the English Channel in Sussex northward to the east Yorkshire coast at Sand le Mere, and Patrington.

From the South it comes up through the outskirts of Boston, and up through the Lincolnshire Wolds.  Then on to Cleethorpes, and after that, with the Humber Estuary in the way, to Spurn Point, and Patrington – ending at Sand Le Mere.

Sadly the marker for the end of the walk at Sand Le Mere, has been washed into the sea following the coastal erosion, and although it survived the initial fall, it has now vanished from the beach.  Hence my first blog post showed the 0 marker on the main road.   Sadly, I suppose the route is getting slightly shorter, year on year, following the problems on the Yorkshire coast.

Another boring fact is that Louth is the largest Town north of London that the Meridian actually passes through properly.  There are some that have the line just outside the town perimeters, like Holbeach and Boston.

Once the line goes into East Yorkshire it quickly leaves the County (like many other things) just near Holderness, and from there it is entirely over water all the way to the Pole.

And for those who like facts and figures, it only passes through 8 countries en route.

They are, in order North to South, England, France, Spain, Algeria, Mali, Togo, Burkina Faso and Ghana  – so maybe I’ll visit all of them…

Anyway….. to conclude this post, here’s the Meridian in Cleethorpes, where my journey really starts…  I’ll revisit on a less wet day with a few better images.