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The St Mary de Castro spire appeal

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The St. Mary de Castro spire appeal, Leicester


Using some of my architectural photography for a good cause

Photographs of St. Mary de Castro church in Leicester

The nearby church of St Mary de Castro has a wonderful spire, dating from around 1400. It’s built on a tower dating from 1300, that’s built from inside a church (lack of space) that dates from around 1100 – although it’s actually two churches joined together. The whole lot has been altered since with the usual Victorian embellishments…

That’s the sort of complex building history that’s pretty common with old English churches.

Here’s a view at night I created for an exhibition earlier this year.

St. Mary de Castro church, Leicester

St Mary de Castro, from the castle precinct

Unfortunately, the attentions of inept repairers and time have left the stonework of the spire in a parlous condition. If left alone, it will collapse within 10 years.

I was asked if it was possible to get some shots from inside the spire, that could be used to demonstrate how bad things were, and show some of the emergency work aimed at stabilising the structure (internal steel bands in tension)

Here’s one of the shots from inside, showing just how bad the cracks have got.

Showing internal cracking in stone spire

The cracks are big enough to get your hand through

It’s very dark, so this is a 2.5 second exposure.

The spire gets rather narrow by the time you are getting near the top, so I used a 180 degree fisheye lens to give a feel for the way the internal scaffolding has been set up. There is a great view of the city from over 200 feet up.

Scaffolding inside St. Mary de Castro church spire

Scaffolding inside St. Mary de Castro church spire

To raise money for the spire appeal, I’ve created some new images of the church, which are being offered as fine art prints to raise money for the church.

This first one shown the Norman (12th century) entrance door, just after it had stopped raining.

Main 12th century entrance doorway to St Mary de Castro, Leicester

Main 12th century entrance doorway to St Mary de Castro, Leicester

A view of the church and entrance to the castle precints

St Mary de Castro and entrance to castle precincts

St Mary de Castro and entrance to castle precincts

The photo above was created using Nik’s new HDR Efex Pro 2 software, for three different exposures. They were needed to keep detail in the very brightly lit areas. I’ll be writing more about this in an upcoming review of the software.

Inside the church I created several extremely high resolution images using a Gigapan and Autopano Giga software. This is a photography service I offer as part of our specialist high resolution architectural photography.

The first is of the high altar (this from an image around 1GB in size)

High Altar - St Mary de Castro

High Altar – St Mary de Castro

Lastly, a full 360 degree view – from a six gigabyte image (you can click on many of the images in this article to see higher resolution versions.

St Mary de Castro - full 360 degree view of the interior

St Mary de Castro – full 360 degree view of the interior

There is more information available about the St Mary de Castro spire appeal via the church’s website and on the church’s WP page

If you’re interested in more information about the prints, please visit the exhibition info page.

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