A vision of Hell

My interest in photographing churches and their stained glass windows has developed over the months. I think I’m perhaps coming to the end of it now. Whether they have interest as stock photos remains to be seen but on a personal level I have found it fascinating. I am not religious but our medieval churches have been at the centre of their respective communities for centuries. They are museums full of treasures from our past.

Fairford church in Gloucestershire was a revelation to me. It is unique in having a virtually complete set of medieval stained glass windows from around 1500. Somehow it survived the protestant destruction of religious art under the reigns of King Henry VIII and particularly his son King Edward VI. Around 90% of all religious art was destroyed – ancient statues, wall paintings, and stained glass – as they tried to erase all visible signs of the Catholic faith.

It seems that at Fairford somebody with wealth and power took a big risk and removed all the stained glass so that it could be hidden and protected. Perhaps that person imagined a reward in heaven and a way of escaping the damnation of hell.

The west window shows the Day of Judgement – a doom picture – where the souls of the risen dead are judged and sent either to God in heaven or to Satan in  Hell.

This is a detail from the west window. To me it seems remarkably modern in its detail.

If you find yourself near Fairford do go and visit. You will be amazed as I was.

A set of images from Fairford is at www.geographyphotos.com

Use the search function to browse them.

 

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