For Day 2 of Ken Gray‘s Facebook 7-Day Photo Challenge, we’re reaching once more into the photo-wayback-machine. This is one of the very first manifestations of my fascination (preoccupation? obsession?) with medieval castles and abbeys…
I made my first trip to the United Kingdom with my then-future-ex-wife Georja Skinner for five memorable weeks in the spring of 1976. The tour covered almost the entire UK.
We started with a couple of days on the Isle of Sark in the – a tiny refuged in the in the English Channel most notable for the nearly complete absence of motorized vehicles. Once in England proper we went as far west as Cornwall, north through the Cotswolds, Wales and the Lake District, and made it as far north as Edinburgh in Scotland. Unfortunately our car was broken into outside of Edinburgh, and – in a demonstration of what international travel newbies we were – our passports were stolen. We had to beat a hasty retreat back to the U.S. Embassy in London to secure temporary passports so that we could eventually fly home.
But I digress: the photo here was taken across the bay from the town of Falmouth on the south coast of Cornwall.
One either side of the mouth of Falmouth Bay are two fortresses built during the reign of Henry VIII to defend the English coast from invasion by the Spanish Armada. On the west side of the bay is Pendennis Castle; we spent a bit of time on the east side of the channel, at a nearly identical installation called St. Mawes Castle. While we were at St. Mawes, a spring storm rolled over the coast, and I captured the layers of clouds as they rolled past Pendennis with my Nikon F2, a 300mm lens and (I think) Ektachrome 400 film.
I have a print of this shot on the wall in my “library” (it’s just a small room with bookshelves, but I like the pretense of calling it “the Library”). The print was made and framed back in 1976 – it’s the oldest photo of mine presently on display in the house. I had it and several other photos from the era (like yesterday’s “Ground Strike“) scanned a few years back. They’re all digital, now….
The image that appears at the top of this post has been “landscape” aspected to fit the way “featured images” are displayed in these posts. Here’s the full “portrait” aspected image, which shows many more layers in the clouds and sky:
Before I went to the UK in the fall of 2014, I spent a little time learning how to make 360º panoramic photos (via Skype) from a guy in Australia, John Warkentin. I haven’t done much with the files since, they’ve just been sitting on my hard drive and I’ve just about completely forgotten how the software that stitches these puppies together works (it’s kinda complex…).
Inside a ruined tower of Middleham Castle
But this morning as I was randomly, mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, I found a page dedicated to the English Wars of the Roses and Medieval Buildings. That got me to looking through some of the files I haven’t looked at for almost two years. First I found an image from the interior of one of the ruined towers of Middleham Castle, a large fortress in Yorkshire, England that was one of the redoubts of the Yorkist faction during the Wars of the Roses, that 30-some-year civil war when the Yorks fought it out with the Lancasters for the Throne of England.
Then I went looking to see what else I have, and found all the files I shot for those panoramas (with a special tripod head that rotates the camera round the front element of the lens). Then I dug into the software that generates the panoramas to see if I could remember how to make it work.
The final result is the image at the top of this post, taken within the main courtyard of Middleham Castle. The statue on the left side is of Richard III – he of “My kingdom for a horse” fame – who resided here for most of his life before usurping the crown from his nephew Edward V.
Edward V and his brother (also a Richard) were confined to the Tower of London, and once Richard ascended the throne, the boys – aged 12 and 9 – were never heard from or seen again, becoming instead the legend of “The Princes in the Tower.”
It was not too much longer before Richard III himself was dispatched in the Battle of Bosworth in August, 1485 – ending more than 350 years of the Plantagenet dynasty in England. Bosworth is often cited as marking the end of the ‘medieval’ period of English history. Richard and the Yorks were vanquished by Henry Tudor, who styled himself Henry VII and began the Tudor dynasty that ended a little over 100 years later with the demise of Elizabeth I.
Any resemblance between the stories of The Wars of the Roses and “Game of Thrones” is strictly intentional. George R. R. Martin has even said as much…
Did you see the Series Finale of “Downton Abbey” last night?
Everybody gets a happy ending. Yay.
Then we wake up Monday morning and it’s back to Trump and Hillary, etal. Yuck.
I thought I recognized the location that was used for “Brancaster Castle” – the sprawling estate that the Granthams visited to meet the mother of Edith’s finance, Bertie, aka the “Marquess of Hexham.” The location is Alnwick Castle in Northumberland, England. I haven’t been there but I did recognize it immediately as a location that also served for some scenes of ‘Hogwarts’ in the first couple of Harry Potter films.
The whole subject reminded me of my travels in the UK and I took a look for the first time in quite a while at the slide show I made of some of the photos from the trip that I took there in 2013 (when I discovered the whole “Portals of Stone” thing).
It’s making me want to go back again in the spring…. <*sigh*>
It turns out that mostly what newborn babies do is sleep (and eat and poop, but who’s counting?).
Which means there is a lot of time to fill when hanging out with a newborn.
So I used the time to work on something I’ve been thinking about for a while: I’ve joined a site called “Storehouse” which makes it really easy to create and share photo essays. I’ve been thinking about compiling an post about the day I spent at Fountains Abbey last October, and finally got around to doing just that while we were in Portland.
So have a look at “A Pilgrim Amid The Ruins” on Storehouse.