Sunday, 25 January 2015

Out of Bounds, In the Moat and Where I Belong

"Out of Bounds" :- This is a room that not many get to see. The reason for this is that the building that it's in is no longer in use and is locked up much of the time to protect it's interior which is listed at Grade II* because of its architectural and historic importance. When the building is occasionally opened up for the public to look around it this room is off limits. In fact, many do not even realise that this room is there at all. This is an old meeting room (now used as a store room) high inside the famous Middle Street Synagogue in the City of Brighton, England. The synagogue is often refferred to as Brighton's second most important historic building (second only to the Royal Pavilion). Construction of the building commenced in 1874 and it was consecrated one year later. Venturing inside the building is like taking a serious step back in time as its interior predominantly remains untouched and is still as lavish and as sumptuous as it was back in its heyday. I'd been exploring it during one of its rare open days and got talking to one of the volunteers who, as it turned out just happened to be the person in charge that day. To cut a long story short he evntually gave me permission to wander around a few areas that were cordoned off to the public (due to safety) and then much to my surprise offered to take me up to the "secret room" that was located high up between the outside round window and the Zodiac Window of the interior. Many people think the two windows are one and the same due to some clever architecture and planning and therefore do not even stop to consider that there's anything between them at all...but there is and it's this room in the image.

"In the Moat" :- Well, it's now houses a pathway around the old walls and ruins but it was once the protective moat of the castle. These are the ruins of Tonbridge Castle in the town of Tonbridge in the English county of Kent. The castle was built shortly after the Norman Invasion (otherwise known as the Battle of Hastings) in 1066. One of William the Conqueror's men was a Norman Lord named Richard de Clare and he was granted land in Kent to guard the crossing of the River Medway and that's when the castle started to take shape. 50,000 tonnes of earth were moved to dig the moat and that earth was then put to use by creating the motte (an artificially made flat-topped mound of earth on which a wooden or stone defensive structure would be built). Move on a few years and the de Clare familly truned against King William II in 1088 and the King's army besieged the castle. After two days it fell and the town of Tonbridge paid the price of rebellion by being burnt to the ground. They are not exactly sure who built the twin towered gatehouse that you see in this image but they do know that it was either the third Earl of Hertford, Richard de Clare or his son Gilbert. The building of the gatehouse took an incredible 30 years and was completed in 1260.

"Where I Belong" :- This beach is just a 5 minute drive or a 25 minute walk from my front door. It's located on the south coast of England just to the East of the city of Brighton by a village called Ovingdean. If you get the timing right you'll find yourself here all alone with nothing but the sound of the sea and the odd cry of gulls breaking the silence. If you really time things right you'll make sure you're here when the low tide coincides with sundown and then the place becomes something really special as it transforms into a wonderland full of visual delights.

All Photography Copyright © Justin Hill