Before starting, he gave a short talk on the general history of church design, from their development from early simple structures through to the magnificent and ornate cathedrals that grace our cities.
He also pointed out that the true definition of the word church comes from the Greek word ‘ekklesia’ which is defined as ‘an assembly’ and is not in fact a building at all.
He also explained his own ground rules when photographing the interior of churches including the obtaining of consent, what areas may and should not be accessed and the good manners of leaving a donation to the church once finished, including the filling in of a gift aid declaration.
Using images he has taken over the years, he took us on a journey from his accidental discovery of the pre Norman Church of St John The Baptist at Edlingham, Northumberland which ignited his interest in the subject.
His range of images covered a broad spectrum of church types from simple chapels, rural churches, ruined abbeys and monasteries to the medieval cathedral at Durham and more recently build Truro Cathedral which was only completed in 1910.
He also pointed out the challenges these buildings sometimes present to the photographer and how he has attempted, successfully or otherwise to overcome them. These range from coping with the sheer scale of some of the larger Cathedrals, the huge variations in light and shade, and coping with the builder’s occasional apparent reluctance to use right angles or straight lines.
With each example, he gave a potted history of the building, pointing out particular features and their links with the communities they serve, in particular their long associations with the military.
Tony ended by explaining that although he held no particular religious beliefs, he urged people to take the time to visit these rich sources of inspiration if for no other reason than to take time out to have a minute or two of peace and quiet far from the madding crowd.