‘Who will rid me of this troublesome priest?’

Shadow of the sword

We’re now approaching something that might be considered normality, whatever that used to be. We have several functioning rooms and there are only about a dozen boxes left to unpack. I have a study to work in even though it currently looks like somewhere that’s been burgled by a thief with a grudge, and a computer to work at even though it’s not yet connected to the internet. It’s a very old computer, so it doesn’t have a wifi card and I’m sitting here with the desktop in front of me and the wifi-connected laptop to my left. Putting anything online involves the patience of a saint, as all my photos are on the desktop and have to be put onto a USB key and thus transferred to the laptop for posting. It shouldn’t be too tedious, but when you have an elderly desktop computer that doesn’t like to use all its USB ports at once, thinks everything I plug into it is a camera, and prefers to keep one or two of them for specific purposes known only to itself, it can get a bit trying at times.  An additional trial is that I have to wear my glasses to see the desktop screen, and I have to take them off to view the nearer laptop screen.  I’m at that age…….

I’m going back in time a little today. I’ve barely been able to think about photography for the last two or three weeks and it was only yesterday that I found some time to start editing the back log of photos. A week or so before I left, I had a private tuition session in Canterbury. I nearly always enjoy teaching, but sometimes you get a client that you hit it off with really well and the whole thing turns into great fun for me too. Mark turned out to be an absolutely lovely person with a great sense of humour, and I enjoyed our session so much that I really felt quite bad about charging for it. I shouldn’t be given money to do something I enjoy, surely?  An added bonus was that, in contrast to most folks, he was more interested in the creative side of photography than the technical side, and that’s where my own inclinations really lie.

Mark had an interest in architectural photography so we paid a visit to the Cathedral. It was one of those lovely sunny winter days and the light was streaming through the windows inside. I don’t usually take many photos when I’m teaching, partly because I feel my attention should be fully on my client and partly because I can’t get totally into things unless I’m on my own. This time, though, I got so inspired that I took loads of shots and I’m pretty pleased with quite a few of them. It was a lovely last visit to a place that’s always inspired me. I expect I’ll be back there again some day, but for now these shots are my final memories of it (and yes, I did give some extra time to compensate).

The photo at the top is a composite. If you know your British history, you’ll know that Thomas a Becket was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral.  Having read a bit about it, I think he was behaving rather badly and asking for trouble really, but it’s still a nasty thing to happen.  The quote in the title is attributed to the king at the time – shamefully I can’t remember which one; it might have been one of the Henrys – who didn’t really expect this sort of action on the part of his knights and ended up crawling through Canterbury in a hair shirt as penance.  (It’s not great for your image to have a priest murdered in his own cathedral.)  Becket’s name is engraved in the floor at the spot where it happened, and above it there’s a rather spectacular wall-mounted sculpture of three swords.  I wanted to put the two images together in some way, but couldn’t do a diptych as the shapes of the two images were so different.  Eventually, I took a close-up of one section of the sculpture, placed it on top of the image of the name, and then blended the two together.  I’m quite pleased with the result as this isn’t the kind of thing I do often.  The image underneath is a bigger one of the wall sculpture.

Sword

In the same area there’s a small chapel with a wrought iron screen and door.  I didn’t think you were allowed to go in it, but an attendant came up and asked if we’d like to go inside.  I don’t particularly like crucified images of Christ, but I did like the way this one was spotlit.

Chapel

After looking at it for a while, I thought that what I liked even better was the top half of it, so I cropped it.

Chapel window

I also loved the fancy ironwork of the gate and the shapes of the windows that closed it off from the rest of the Cathedral.

Chapel door

And here’s a selection of other shots I took as we went round.

Feet

Coloured light

Light on stone

Light on stone 2

Sun and stone

Window

Now this is a place called the Dark Entry – I always think it sounds like it’s something out of Harry Potter.  The story goes that Nell was a cook to the canon of the Cathedral and had taken rather a fancy to him.  However, she suspected him of having a lover and, in a fit of jealous rage, poisoned his food and he died.  Her punishment was to be walled up alive in the Dark Entry, where it’s said she haunts it still.  Anyone unfortunate enough to see her ghost will die shortly thereafter.  It’s a good story……………..

The Dark Entry

My main reason for including it – apart from the story – is for the spectacular tree shadow you can see through the archway.  We went through and took loads of shots of this.  This was one of those occasions when I think the shots worked better in black and white, so I converted them.  The building behind is part of King’s School, a very old fee-paying Canterbury school that dates back to the early days of the Cathedral.

Tree shadow 1

Tree shadow 2