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Winter Light In Spitalfields

December 5, 2019
by the gentle author

The inexorable descent into the winter darkness is upon us, even if just a couple of weeks from now we shall reach the equinox and days will start to lengthen. At this season, I am more aware of light than at any other – especially when the city languishes under an unremitting blanket of low cloud, filtering the daylight into a grey haze that casts no shadow.

Yet on some recent mornings I have woken to sunlight and it always lifts my spirits to walk out through the streets under a clear sky. On such days, the low-angled sunshine and its attendant deep shadow conjures an exhilarating drama.

In these particular conditions of light, walking from Brick Lane down Fournier St is like advancing through a cave towards the light, refracting around the vast sombre block of Christ Church that guards the entrance. The street runs from east to west and, as the sun declines, its rays enter through the churchyard gates next to Rectory illuminating the houses opposite and simultaneously passing between the pillars at the front of the church to deliver light at the western end where it meets Commercial St.

For a spell, the shadows of the stone balls upon the pillars at the churchyard gate fall upon the houses on the other side of the street and then the rectangle of light, admitted between the church and the Rectory, narrows from the width of a house to single line before it fades out. At the junction with Commercial St, the low-angled sun directed through the pillars in the portico of Christ Church casts tall parallel bars of light and shade that travel down Fournier St from the Ten Bells as far as number seven, reflecting off the window panes to to create a fleeting pattern like stars within the gloom of the old church wall.

As you can see from these photographs, I captured these transient effects of light with my camera to share with you as a keepsake of winter sunshine, for consolation when those clouds descend again.

The last ray

The shadow of the cornice of Christ Church upon the Rectory

The shadow of the pillars of Christ Church upon Fournier St

Windows in Fournier St reflecting upon the church wall

In Princelet St

You may also like to read about

Midwinter At Christ Church Spitalfields

A View of Christ Church Spitalfields

14 Responses leave one →
  1. Linda Salter permalink
    December 5, 2019

    Thank you for all you do and are and for the delight your generous sharing brings to others. Though I have my own tabby, I still rather miss the wonderful Mr Pussy.

  2. Jill Wilson permalink
    December 5, 2019

    Lovely photos!

    There is also something very special about a mid-winter sunset on a clear day – it was stunning coming over the river last night.

  3. Ron Wilkinson permalink
    December 5, 2019

    At winter solstice in London the sun is around 16.5 degrees above the horizon at noon. In San Diego where I’m at its about 34.5.
    I like the winter solstice because the sun’s coming back!
    I like the light play in the pictures.

  4. Esther permalink
    December 5, 2019

    Lovely photo’s 🙂 I always love these sunny winterdays. the photo of the windows of Fournier ST reflecting on the churhwall; those light forms reminds me of Hebrew characters somehow…

  5. December 5, 2019

    Love these.

  6. Jill permalink
    December 5, 2019

    How beautiful. I was completely transported, and the transient light show is all. Thankyou for enriching and illuminating our shortest winter days with your light filled words.

  7. Linda Granfield permalink
    December 5, 2019

    Lovely warming atmosphere there on such a chilly day here. Such delicacy in these photos. Thank you.

  8. December 5, 2019

    Greetings from snowy Boston,

    GA, what lovely pics of your neighborhood on a precious sunny day as the winter solstice approaches. As always Hawksmoor’s Christ Church stand majestically in all lights.

    Today the sun sets at 4:11 in Boston and at 3:53 in London. Indeed, these are “the dark days before Christmas” and any sliver of sunlight is much appreciated …

  9. Saba permalink
    December 5, 2019

    GA, it looks as if you waited at one location for the changes in the shadows! Brilliant! And, beautiful.

  10. John C. Miles permalink
    December 5, 2019

    In the Third Collect for Evensong, the Book of Common Prayer exhorts ‘Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord’ – and these lovely photographs do just that.

  11. December 5, 2019

    Don’t you just love it! Something that has always moved me. Thank-you .

  12. Delia Folkard permalink
    December 5, 2019

    Beautiful. We really do need to take a little more time to stop and enjoy these fleeting images. Thank you.

  13. December 5, 2019

    Dear G.A., wonderful photographs. True winter light, totally different from the one much further South in Madrid. It’s now been more than a year and a half since Schrodinger came to live with you, how is he? Thank you for the pictures, loved them.

  14. Venetia permalink
    December 7, 2019

    Well done. Beautiful photographs.

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