A bird’s eye view of a village scene. And where else would you go to capture an image like this, but the top of a church tower?
Ravilious climbed the steps of St James’ Church in Ashreigney to get this aerial view of the moment the children from the parish were given a commemorative mug. The gifts were handed out as part of the celebrations for the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer in 1981, and it was a scene echoed in many rural communities at the time.
There’s a copy of this photo hanging in Ashreigney’s village hall and it inspired a similar group photo which was organised for the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations in April this year.
Local photographer Andrew Barrett followed in the footsteps of Ravilious to recreate the feel of the image.
“It involved a lot of ladders!” he says, after experiencing what it was like climbing the bell tower of the church.
Andrew wanted to record an image of villagers forming the number 90 in the same location.
Whereas Ravilious was unobserved, (no one in the crowd below appears to be aware they are having a photo taken), Andrew was shouting instructions from his lofty vantage point, or at least trying to!
“They’d formed a ’90’,” he laughs, “but done it the wrong way around, so it was ’60’ from where I was standing. I was shouting at them, but no one could hear me!”
As well as recreating the scene, the idea was to capture any changes to the topography. Not much has visibly changed, although there are new houses to the right of the image. What has changed is perhaps less evident in the
photographs. In Ravilious’ day there was a pub, a post office and a shop in Ashreigney; now all that remains is the village hall.
What both photos do show however is the continuing sense of community, and perhaps a desire to hang on to what makes village life special. Even if the facilities have vanished, the community still exists.