Journal Places

Holy Trinity Church, Rothwell

One week on and a distinct change of pace and mood followed my recent visit to Silverstone.  Members of Desborough and Rothwell Photographic Society were invited to spend a morning  taking photographs inside Holy Trinity Church in Rothwell, Northamptonshire.

Our visit included a guided tour of the bell tower including, for the brave or the fearless, access to the top of the tower to enjoy panoramic views over the town and the surrounding countryside.  Also included in our morning was access to the famous bone crypt.

The history of Holy Trinity Church stretches back almost a thousand years, with the oldest part of the church dating back to Norman times.  The main part of the church was constructed in the 13th Century and there have been several alterations and additions since then.  At 173 feet in length, the church is the longest in Northamptonshire and, like many churches and buildings in the area, was built from local sandstone giving it a distinctive golden colour, particularly when see in evening sunlight.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t brave enough on the day to face the climb up the ladder from the bell chamber, through the trap-door, to the roof above.  I’m not very good with heights I’m afraid even though I wanted to get to the top for the views.  As it was, I stayed next to the bells with another member of the society whilst three members climbed the ladder to the top of the tower.

CLANG! CLANG! CLANG! CLANG!  Without warning, the tranquility of this Saturday morning was shattered and I jumped out of my skin as the bells, which I was standing next to at the time, suddenly chimed the quarter-hour.  The sound was deafening and yet beautiful at the same time.  Our guide had explained earlier that each bell produces not just a single tone but a range of tones determined by the size and shape of the design.  See here for a detailed explanation.

I may have been chicken when it came to climbing to the top of the tower but I made amends when it came to photographing the bone crypt.  This was my first visit to this site and I wasn’t sure beforehand just how I would react to the sight of dozens, maybe hundreds of human skulls and other bones in varying states of decay.  I needn’t have worried as I had my quizzical photographers head on as I carefully descended the narrow stone staircase from the main church to the crypt.

I guessed that the light would not be very good in the crypt so I brought my own light with me in the form of a Canon 580 speedlite.  I also brought an old friend, the ST-E2 speedlite transmitter which allows for off-camera flash using infra-red triggering, unlike the modern radio types.  The speedlite transmitter has an extra trick up its sleeve, not only does it trigger remote flashes, it also has not one but two infra-red focus-assist beams which are a great aid to focussing in dim lighting.  The shots below were taken at F/8 to give good depth of field.

We were made very welcome at the church with tea, coffee and cakes being provided for the society members.  In exchange we have promised to supply photos from the day to be considered for selling as postcards in the church.  The morning passed so quickly and before long it was time to leave.

If I ever get the chance again I would definitely spend more time photographing the spectacular stained glass windows and the beautiful stone work inside this lovely church.  Hopefully one of our members got those shots that I missed on this occasion.  I can imagine a lens with an image stabilizer would be perfect for that type of shot, or you could always do what some of our members did, use a tripod.

Below is a selection of my shots from the day.  I have a gallery dedicated to some of my favourite Northamptonshire churches, including a few more photos from Rothwell on my website here.

Until next time,