English Medieval Cathedrals

My photography is driven by the exploration of form and function; both in what man and nature create individually and collectively, to generate a visceral response to my images in the viewer causing them to re-appraise and look again at perhaps familiar scenes. I have always favored black and white photography, as for me it produces a much more intense and evocative image and response.

My exploration of man-made subjects is focused in architecture (my father, brother and son are all architects), and especially on one of the finest achievements of English architecture -- the great English medieval cathedrals. Because of their chequered history of semi-continuous building and rebuilding, they exhibit a wide variety of architectural styles, evolution and implementation, from early Norman through to Late Gothic – both within one building as well as between them – providing great scope for innovation and excitement in the creation of space and vision. The architecture of the medieval years covered in this site runs from the Norman Conquest of 1066, and the great rush of major church building that the Normans initiated, through the various stages of gothic renovation, expansion and rebuilding that went on up until the Dissolution of the monasteries and Reformation by Henry VIII in 1539-41.

I’m engrossed by the imagination and skills of those who conceived and built them, the awe-inspiring scale and the interactions between form and function at a human level, as well as a sense of the faith and divine purpose for which they were created. It’s these elements that I’m attempting to capture in my photographs -- structures that signal strength and purpose, beauty and majesty, elegance and grace, exuberance and awe, intimacy and reflection – demonstrating such a magnificent variety of form for common functions.

This site includes individual galleries of images from the cathedrals at Bath, Canterbury, Carlisle, Chester, Chichester, Durham, Ely, Exeter, Gloucester, Hereford, Lichfield, Lincoln, Norwich, Oxford, Peterborough, Ripon, Rochester, St Albans, Salisbury, Southwell, Wells, Winchester, Worcester, and York -- churches that were founded and built between the Conquest and Dissolution, and either were originally founded as cathedrals or were abbey churches subsequently raised to that status. There are many other abbey churches built between the Conquest and Dissolution which demonstrate similar characteristics of strength, grace, exuberance and awe-inspiring scale that survive in whole or part today, but which never achieved cathedral status: I have included images from a few noteworthy examples as a final gallery on this site.

In my work I have been especially inspired by the photographic masterpieces of Frederick Evans, Edwin Smith and Martin Hurlimann.

Please visit my other site at JohnEatonPhotography to see more examples of my work.

Thank you for visiting my site. I have also self-published a book, "English Medieval Cathedrals" using Blurb (www.blurb.com) containing much of the material from this site.

John Eaton