Sunday, 24 August 2014

Courtyard Garden, St. Michael and All Angels and Split Sky

"Courtyard Garden" :- Nymans House and Garden is a National Trust property in Handcross, Haywards Heath, West Sussex. The house and gardens were developed (starting in the late 19th Century) by three generations of the Messel family. The house started off life as a very large Victorian dwelling but was changed into a large mock-Tudor house. In 1947 much of the house was destroyed by a huge fire but some sections remained unharmed and continued to be habitable. It became the home of Anne Messel (Leonard Messel's daughter) and her second husband the 6th Earl of Rosse. Anne Messel was the Countess of Rosse and her son was Antony Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon. Lord Snowdon had a successful career as a world-renowned photographer. When Leonard Messel died in 1953 the house was willed to the National Trust along with 275 acres of woodland.

"St. Michael and All Angels" :- This is a very eerie and spooky feeling place to wander about. The building was constructed in 1880 to be used as a school during weekdays and to serve as a Victorian mission church on the weekends. It's located in a long forgotten village called Bedham within the Western Weald deep in the heart of West Sussex. The village became a retreat for several artists, writers and composers in the nineteenth and early twentieth Centuries including Rex Vicat Cole (1870-1940), Sir Edward Elgar (1857-1934) and Ford Maddox Ford (1873-1939). I spent some time exploring the ruin and its silence is somewhat chilling. This was once full of the laughter of children or the singing of a congregation. It was in use right up until 1959 when it was suddenly abandoned and left to rot. Finding it was not easy, I knew roughly where I was looking but after a long time driving around i'd given up and was on my way out of the area when I suddenly spotted it by accident.

"Split Sky" :- Timing is everything. I have to admit though that it was a happy accident as I had no idea the sky was going to be quite as dramatic as this. I'd gone down to the beach at Ovingdean Gap (near Brighton on the south coast of England) hoping to catch a good sunset. These things are never definite, you rely on hunches based on how the day has been and have to then work out and estimate your chances. For some reason I headed off to the beach, timing it right for sundown and the "blue hour". It looked to be a normal, uninspiring sort of evening at first. Nothing special happening apart from some clouds over the horizon. But then they shifted and rolled in as they got heavier coinciding perfectly with the sun as it dropped down behind the gap where the sky meets the sea and the magic happened. A deep cobalt blue spread acroos the seaand the light bounced up hit the clouds. Just a bright patch of sky remained to the West which added a stark and beautiful contrast to the shot and image. An incredible thing to witness first hand.

All Photography Copyright © Justin Hill