Church Photography

In & Around St Mark’s Square, Venice, Italy

We have been to Yorkshire this weekend, unfortunately the weather was very wet and there wasn’t any internet service, so not that many photos taken, but I did spent sometime sorting through some old photos.  When we were in Venice, October 2016, we visited St Mark’s Square, but I wasn’t happy about the photos that I took.  I very nearly trashed them all, but having some time to play around with them this weekend, I have saved quite a few.  There are always going to be loads of tourists, but since it is so iconic of Venice, I should post them and it is a wonderful place full of beautiful buildings, just ignore the bodies 🙂 

As the largest square in the city and the only one given the designation of “piazza” (the others are all referred to as “campi”), St. Mark’s Square has always been the location of important government buildings and other facilities central to the goings on in Venice.  

The centerpiece of the piazza is, of course, the magnificent St. Mark’s Basilica.  Commissioned in 1071 by doge Domenico Contarini, this amazing church is built in Venetian-Byzantine style, a mixture of western and eastern styles.

The basilica has a separate campanile – bell tower – that stands 98.6 meters tall (323 ft) and is one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks.  Originally built in the ninth century, the current version was rebuilt in 1912 after the original tower collapsed in 1902.

The other dominant building around St. Mark’s Square is the Doge’s Palace. A beautiful Gothic structure, it faces the Venetian lagoon and was completed in the early fifteenth century, though portions of it were rebuilt after a fire in 1574.

Between the Palace of the Doge and the Library is the Piazzetta (little piazza) San Marco.  It is known for the two columns located there that pay homage to two of Venice’s patrons – St. Mark and St. Teodoro of Amasea.

The Ancient Priory Church of St Mary, Portchester. Hampshire


After our visit to Portchester Castle, we made our way over to the Ancient Priory Church of St Mary, situated in the far corner of the Roman enclosure.  

Built in the 1120s of Isle of Wight stone by Normans. It was given by Henry 1 to a small community of Augustinian or Austin canons/monks.   Their seats in the chancel with arched recesses may still be seen. The priory buildings that once stretched south to the Roman wall have completely disappeared. The canons moved some four miles away to Southwick for a more quiet life after some 20 years, but sent a canon until the Reformation in the 1530s to serve this parish.

The Norman west door is a wonderful example of Norman stonework with a variety of patterns.

The building is of outstanding simplicity, a nave with traditional Norman arches and rounded windows in the north and south wall.  

On the South wall is an Elizabethan plaque, dated 1577, the oldest of this type in the county and a note of the royal grant.  The flowing photos will take you on a tour of this interesting church.





St Mary’s Norman Font, Portchester, Hampshire

St Mary’s Church situated in the grounds of Portchester Castle, Hampshire, is the home of a splendid Norman Font and was a lovely surprise.  Thought to be contemporaneous with the church itself, this font is nearly 900 years old and displays intricate carvings.  As may be suspected from both the colour difference and the sharpness of the carving, the lower part of the font displaying the columns is considerably more modern, dating from 1888. Apparently the original base, described as having the baptism of Christ sculptured upon it was still in existence in 1845, but the upper part is as it was when carved by the hand of a Norman stonemason.  Made of Caen stone and is intricately carved with spirals of flowers, serpents and other figures.  A baptismal font full of symbolism, which are not yet fully understood.  It’s a wonderful font for my collection of ‘Church Fonts’.


St Magnus Cathedral – Kirkwall Orkney, Scotland

Iceland Cruise March 2018 – Continuing with our visit to Kirkwall, Orkney, we visited St Magnus Cathedral, where the door was open wide for all to enter.  Luckily there were only a few visitors, so I could take quite a few people free photos.  The building, to me, looks pink, a lovely rose pink, the stonework is a patched up here and there, but you are looking at a structure, that the earliest stages of building would have been in 1137.  Only fragments, of the building that was based on Durham Cathedral remain, the walls, ceiling and pillars would have would have originally been plastered and painted with colourful floral patterns.  

By 1152 the choir and three pillars of the nave had been built, by the mid 12th century the apse was also in existence at the east end of the Cathedral  behind the high alter.  Many years later a gasket containing the bones of St Magnus was discovered in this area. Over the years the Cathedral has been restored, with the white washed walls, which happen during the Reformation, removed, and the lovely warm red sandstone was then revealed. Stained glass windows, replaced formally plain ones.  But in the 1960’s it became clear the the whole building was in serious danger of subsiding.  Sinking foundations meant that the nave was gradually leaning westward and the gable was endanger of collapsing into the street.  An appeal committee raised £300,000 and in 1974 restoration works were carried out with metal support girders, which are concealed by the nave and clerestory and the building was saved.  More restoration work has since been carried out, and wherever possible the red sandstone is retained.

St Magnus is a building that requires lots of exploring, I really only had about 30 minutes, but I think I have caught some of that lovely red sandstone.  I loved the carved pew ends, they are not medieval, but come from one of the more recent restorations.  The headstones on the walls, are so interesting, they once covered burials in the nave.  The stones contain many reminders of death, skulls, crossbones and hourglasses.  I did miss a few things, so this post will have to suffice, until I can returned to photograph the rest.


The Italian Chapel, Lamb Holm, Orkney, Scotland

Iceland Cruise March 2018 – On my ‘want to do list ‘ was a visit to the Italian Chapel on Orkney, and guess what I got to see it, one of the coach trips included a tour… that was the one we went on, well husband got the whisky trip and I got the church.  I had always wanted to visit Orkney, as my great-grandfather was stationed there during WW1, teaching the Scottish ladies on how to make submarine nets.  He actually went to the Dardanelles and fitted them in place, but thats another story, maybe one day.  Well back to our visit, we travelled over a causeway to the small island of Lamb Holm and there, the only building left, is the beautiful Roman Catholic chapel which was constructed by Italian POWs during the Second World War.

In October 1939 a German submarine under the command of Gunther Prien entered Scapa Flow and sank the British battleship ‘Royal Oak’ with the loss of 834 lives. Winston Churchill, at that time First Sea Lord, visited Orkney and the decision was taken to construct barriers to close off four of the entrances to Scapa Flow to make the base for the home fleet more secure.  There was a shortage of manpower to build the barriers, so 550 Italian prisoners of war captured in North Africa, were transported to the Island of Lamb Holm to construction the barriers.

Following a request from the camp priest, Fr Giacobazzi, it was agreed that two Nissen huts would be joined together to provide a chapel. Among the Italians in Camp 60 was an artist, Domenico Chiocchetti, and he was given the task of transforming the two Nissen huts into a chapel. He was assisted by other tradesmen – in particular Giuseppe Palumbi a blacksmith, and Domenico Buttapasta a cement worker.  The chapel is the only building left of Camp 60.  I have added information boards at the bottom of the post.

For taking my photos of this beautiful chapel, I had to rush in before our coach party descended on the chapel, as it would then be impossible to take any people free photos.  My practice of taking photos in a very short time, came into full use and I got most of them, then just aimed for the ceiling.  For those few moments of just me, the chapel felt so serene.  

Chioccetti set to work on the painting of the interior of the sanctuary. The end result is a work of art that is magnificent, and must have been utterly stunning to those imprisoned here. Another prisoner, Giuseppe Palumbi, who had been a blacksmith in Italy before the war, spent four months constructing the wrought iron rood screen, which still complements the rest of the interior today.

Iceland Cruise 18 – An Afternoon In Reykjavik, Iceland

Today in Scotland the 8th May 2018, the weather was the same as yesterday, wet morning, nice afternoon, so better than rain all day.  Tomorrow we are going on an all day trip to find wildlife on the Isle of Mull, fingers cross the weather is kind to us.  But back to our Iceland cruise……. After our snow drive in the 4 x 4, we spent the afternoon in Iceland’s capital city Reykjavik, from the Icelandic rejkja meaning “smoky’ referring to the steam, from its many hot springs.  I did mention in my pervious post about people falling over, well I didn’t fall over, but I did go over on my ankle, and it hampered my walking powers, somewhat.  So I didn’t get to explore as much as I wanted to, but I did manage to get to the Hallgrimskirkja Cathedral, I was really looking forward to visiting this amazing building, only to be told on entering, it was closed all afternoon, due to a funeral…… oh well lets find somewhere to eat.  We did find a wonderful Icelandic restaurant and had the most amazing fish stew.  Afterwards, we did jumper shopping, and yes I did buy one, but I wasn’t allow to buy the polar bear…… so I took a photo.  I took a few more photos, then we caught the bus back to the ship, so I could rest my foot, as the next day, was an all day trip for exploring the ‘Golden Circle’

From Landsberg, Bavaria to Interlaken, Switzerland

We arrived home from this years visit to Landsberg, Bavaria, a couple of days ago, but I have been a little busy since then.  We were very lucky, the weather had been glorious, not so good now we are home, but we enjoyed the sun when we were on our visit.  I still have Iceland to post, and then this years visit to Bavaria, we did go to some lovely places.  I am working on the photos for Iceland, but I did find some of 2016’s visit to Landsberg and Interlaken.  We went to Switzerland two years in a row, in 2015 the weather was wonderful, 2016 very cold and mostly wet, but I did find some good weather photos apart from a little rain which sneaked in.  So really just a trip from Landsberg to Interlaken and you will notice how each place differs from the other, but both in their own unique way.