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Winter Light In Spitalfields

December 4, 2023
by the gentle author

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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

6 Responses leave one →
  1. Jane permalink
    December 4, 2023

    Beautiful winter light. Thank you for these – we need benign light in December and, now, in the world in general.
    Your Midwinter Light at Christ Church Spitalfields from another year is very beautiful.

  2. December 4, 2023

    These are great photos of an atmospheric place. I was struck by light, angle and shadow when I visited Tyseley railway station on one of my journeys last week. Not quite the architectural giant that is Christ Church but a still a locally significant building. Each of your photos would make a great art print. Well done GA!

  3. December 4, 2023

    Thank you for the memory and promise of light.

  4. Greg T permalink
    December 4, 2023

    Try THIS
    Note the date – taken by myself, as part of the “Images of England” project – now shamefully closed down by cheeseparing.

  5. Claire D permalink
    December 4, 2023

    Beautiful writing and photos GA, as usual. Unfortunately the rainy gloom is unremitting here in Suffolk at the moment, which makes your photos all the more appreciated, thank you.

  6. Laura permalink
    December 4, 2023

    The light you captured by photograph reveals the palimpsest in every surface. Generally, sunlight is appreciated all the more when it is lacking, and it is no wonder as all life depends upon it.

    But your photos revealed what may be seen when solid forms interact through the medium of light. In particular, the Fournier St reflections appear to be in holy script, writ large. What marvel!

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