01 January 2013 by Mel Russ Articles
Ecclesiastical architecture has fascinated me since my schooldays. Originally living in north London I attended a church school, St Michael-at-Bowes and on most religious occasions we marched off to the local mother church to celebrate various feasts.
I liked the formal breaks from the classroom because it let me explore the church with my hands and eyes. I was a poor singer and I wasn’t interested in the sermons but I enjoyed running my hands over the stonework, the carved pews, marvel at the glass work and gaze up at the ceiling, which always reminded me of an upturned wooden warship.
So to be asked to help pull together the 2013 edition of Men of The Stones turned into a journey of discovery as I investigated and rummaged through some of the most famous historical buildings in the country. And being a keen photographer I was able to run riot with my camera, snapping countless images that will never be published, there just isn’t room.
I’ve been an angling journalist for nigh on 40 years and now I had something fresh, historical and interesting to get my teeth into. And the first thing that I learnt was that my fascination for old churches, castles, houses and cathedrals hasn’t waned. I still get the same kick as I did when I was a schoolboy.
I suppose I have always been in awe of craftsmen; people who can fashion things of beauty like a church or stately home or something practical like a wooden ship with the most basic hand-tools. Skills, I believe, to create such things of wonder are born naturally to man with apprenticeships and on the job training honing the crafts of the mason, carpenter, lead-worker and glassmaker. Of course, today we live in the age of machines but it is still the artisan who has to carve and finish a piece of stone, roll out lead, cut and fit the glass and fashion all sorts of things in wood that has to stand the test of time.
And that is what I have tried to reflect in this year’s Men of The Stones; a historical journey and celebration through the centuries of human labour to create things of stunning beauty.