Day 1 – Sat 12 Sept

13 09 2009

Ferry to Southampton

The first day of the adventure.  My friend Stephen and I got an early ferry to Southampton (the Portsmouth ferries were fully booked because of Bestival) and headed off to Surrey.  The weekend plans were to try to photograph his father’s stained glass windows in the area – as many as possible.  Stephen’s father is Lawrence Stanley Lee (LSL), a master stained glass artist who will be 100 years old next week!

Pippa and Brenda discussing LSLs 1954 window at St Lukes, Reigate

Pippa and Brenda discussing LSL's 1954 window at St Luke's, Reigate

We had a list of 21 places to visit, though we didn’t expect to be able to get to them all.  A few emails had been sent prior to leaving and I’d had a few replies, but we still weren’t sure exactly where we would be going.  We had, however been invited to lunch by Pippa – LSL’s last assistant.  She met us at St Luke’s Church in Reigate where we were let into the church by a lovely local lady, Brenda, who had lived in the town all her life and remembered the windows being installed in 1954.

Pippa is currently restoring one of the large windows in this church and I was able to get some close-up photos for her before we went to her home nearby for lunch in the garden.

LSL was a little unusual in that he always added his assistant’s name or initials to his signature on the windows.  On this window was the name C R Wallis – an assistant who went on to become one of Canada’s leading stained glass artists.

Pippa shows us a beautiful piece of very expensive red stained glass, in her fascinating studio

Pippa shows us a beautiful piece of very expensive red stained glass (made using gold oxide), in her fascinating studio

At Pippa’s we saw some of her own work – she has a magnificent stained glass piece in her front door and another on the landing of her beautiful house which is full of visual joys.  We were also treated to a visit to her glass studio upstairs.  What a place!  I could have spent hours there just photographing everything.

The three of us headed off to Abinger to see if the church there was open.  I hadn’t received a reply to my email but both Stephen and Pippa were keen to give it a try.  Unfortunately the church was locked and when we phoned the warden he said that he would be able to open it the next day for us.  I took a lot of photos in the grounds though, and the light was lovely.

Ripe conkers

Ripe conkers

The horse chestnut trees were dripping with ripe conkers ready to drop to the ground and I was surprised by this.  When I was a child, and even in much more recent times, my experience of ‘conker trees’ has been that you can’t get any because other kids have been there before you and nabbed them all.  To think that there would be any hanging from the branches was amazing.  “In my day” they would have been knocked out of the tree before being fully ripe, by thrown stones or sticks.  Perhaps kids these days are at home, not allowed out, or glued to their computers.  Perhaps the game of conkers is no longer considered fun.  Well I have these twin beauties in my handbag now – do I bake them in the oven on low and slow, or shall I soak them in vinegar?  I can’t remember which was best.

After Abinger we took Pippa home and had a cuppa before heading off to the B&B to check in and, although very tired, walk into town for something to eat.  We went to a Himalayan Nepalese Indian [sic] restaurant – wonderful lemon rice and a Thai curry (yes, I know – I wonder where these guys were actually from).

A successful day – very very tired though as I didn’t get much sleep the night before.  Out like a light, and lots planned for the next day.

Miles travelled: 116

Detail from LSLs window at St Lukes, Reigate

Detail from LSL's window at St Luke's, Reigate

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