Saturday, 19 April 2014

Historical Epping Forest: A Photographic Exploration

The Epping Forest area is full of historic buildings as well as ancient trees. Churches, chapels, hunting lodges and haunted pubs, the area is full of interesting buildings with fascinating histories (and photogenic foibles). Here are a handful of images to show you just some of the historical interest to be found here in South-West Essex, on the edge of London.


The Queen Elizabeth Hunting Lodge has to feature in any mention of the history of Epping Forest. From Elizabeth I to William Morris (whose first recorded interest in textiles was during a visit to the hunting lodge - read more about him here), this building has touched upon the lives of many important figures. The lodge was actually built for Henry VIII, back in 1543. The two photos above show the hunting lodge during a medieval re-enactment event, a chance to see history come to life at the hunting lodge. The hunting lodge and the newly-built visitor centre next door are excellent places to learn more about the forest (and "The View" visitor centre does indeed have fantastic views out over Chingford Plain), and there are a number of marked trails leading out from here to help you explore the woodland. Find out more about the lodge and upcoming events at the City of London website.

"The Chapel" in Chigwell Row
The Chigwell Row chapel above, dominated by very grand Plane trees, was opened in 1804 (although the frontage is probably more recent according to British History Online) and it is now a United Free Church. The building, though squat and rectangular, looks stunning when its golden bricks soak up the sunlight. Chigwell Row was an outlying hamlet on the very edge of Hainault Forest, and although development has since joined it up with neighbouring settlements it still retains some pretty village features (and some of nearby Hainault Forest still remains to enjoy).

Some of the fascinating features that can be found on buildings in the area
And in this final image, a montage of building features. On the left is one of the gargoyles which grace the roof of the Queen Elizabeth Pub in Chingford. Just around the corner from the hunting lodge, this pub is reputedly haunted (did the ghost inspire the gargoyles, or vice versa?). In the middle of the montage is a Norman Cross, part of the original Norman doorway of St. Mary's Church in Chigwell Village (built in 1160). Finally, the head to the right of the montage is part of the decorative stonework around the arched doorways at the All Saints Church in Chigwell Row (next to Hainault Forest). Besides being a very fine piece of masonry, the face seems to have a quiet dignity which is very suited to a man of stone.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

The Chignal Jester

The Chignal Jester stands proudly on its head.
Has someone turned this tree upside-down as some kind of April fool? The ash tree in this photo, taken in rural Essex, certainly looks topsy-turvy. The short stout trunk ends in a blunt and lumpy way (as a result of pollarding) and the winter-bare, spreading branches above it strongly resemble roots. A number of gnarled, veteran ash trees can be found throughout the farmland around Chelmsford, but this one near the Chignals was particularly photogenic. Its trunk catches the winter sunshine, and its branches seem to embrace the blue sky. It presides over both the country lane and fields beside it, but the other trees distant in the background place it in context: this tree is one of many dotted through the agricultural landscape, and these provide added interest and a huge benefit for wildlife (providing food for butterflies and moths, for example).

Monday, 31 March 2014

20,000+ pageviews!

We have had over 20,000 all-time pageviews here at the Heenan Photography website, with 1,867 pageviews in the last month alone. Thanks very much for your interest, we hope you continue to stop by to see the latest news and photos from Heenan Photography!

Saturday, 15 March 2014

River Stour Boating

"On the Stour", with views of the River Stour from a boat. Photo by Heenan Photography.

These two images feature the River Stour, in that beautiful part of the country where Essex and Suffolk meet. Dedham Vale (an AONB - Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) has gorgeous, famous and typically English landscapes, with rolling farmland and quaint old buildings. The two photos I am posting today show the aquatic charms of the River however. There is a long history of navigation on the River Stour, and boats have been used to transport all sorts of goods from bricks heading to London through to sewage heading out to the fields of Suffolk! They can also transport itinerant photographers. The picture above, "On the Stour", shows a boats-eye view of the riverine landscape, including twisted, pollarded Willow trees. The picture below, "The Boating Alphabet", depicts a landscape of boats awaiting use outside the old Granary building (with Flatford Mill glimpsed through the trees in the background).

"The Boating Alphabet", with an array of boats for hire. Photo by Heenan Photography.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Rainbow Over Roding


Even the rainy days have their rainbows. This photo was taken in the Roding Valley, and shows a double rainbow over the wet meadows and fen of the Nature Reserve that runs along the River Roding near Loughton and Chigwell, Essex, England. The reserve follows the river for roughly a mile and a half, and in addition to providing a place for the Roding to flood (thus alleviating some of the flooding pressure downstream) the reserve also contains a number of important plant and animal species. The nature reserve contains the the largest remaining area of water meadows in Essex, according to Essex Wildlife Trust. I like the warmth of the late light here bathing the bare trees and shrubs, and picking out the sere grasses in the background.

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