On Saturday, my boyfriend and I decided to leave the sofa and take a spontaneous drive to the Kent countryside to get some fresh air and shoot some photographs.
We had talked about driving to the Kent Downs but Daniel likes to surprise me by taking me to places I haven’t thought about and of course he tricked me and didn’t take me there, but instead drove me to a secret location to the crumbling ruins of an old church.
I was completely enchanted by the ruin which stood abandoned and quite hidden away on a little green hill in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by weathered gravestones and small, old trees with falling leaves in ochre yellow and burnt orange. Ivy covered the walls, its branches climbing up the old crumbling stones and the window panes stood empty from glass long since shattered. In another part of the church the side of an arch belonging to a church door still stood out and old broken tiles from the altar were coverd by overgrown grass, with some of their patterns still showing.
We had only just arrived when a few drops of rain started to fall but we weren’t deterred and went up the hill anyway. We had just started exploring the ruins with no one else around when the rain got even worse and we had to hide in cover underneath the tall, still-standing church tower. It was quite romantic to stand there just the two of us in a moment of stillness and listen to the rain as it fell down on the grass and the worn stones while we waited for it to pass. Maybe it’s because it’s autumn but it got me thinking about Gothic stories like Northanger Abbey and The Mysteries of Udolpho, about haunted places, romance and dark, mysterious ruins.
Eventually we got tired of waiting for the rain to pass, so we started running around the grounds, taking as many pictures as we could before getting completely soaked and the whole experience only became more gothic when I lost sight of Daniel and called out for him without getting an answer! In the end the rain finally stopped and we could finish taking our photographs. Because of the heavy clouds a lot of our photographs turned out blurry, so in one way it wasn’t a very good day to do a photo shoot but on the other hand I wouldn’t have wanted to miss the romantic athmosphere of the place!
I absolutely get the obsession with ruins, also known as Ruinenlust and I understand why so much have been written about them and why they have featured in a lot of artwork, like Francis Frith’s albumen prints from the 19th century and Turner’s painting of Norham Castle! Ruins are very picturesque and they often have interesting stories about how they got abandoned or ended up as ruins.The church we went to for example, had been bombed during WW2 and was left on its own after that, as a new church was build closer to the village. It feels a bit sad that it was just left on its own and that all the graves there are only visited by people who stop by the ruins. But then it also felt very exciting to discover a grave from 1890 and know that the place is surrounded in so much history.
No matter what the story behind these places tells us, I think there will always be something both sad and exciting, and mysterious and romantic about places and buildings that have been left on their own to slowly decay and be taken over by nature and the passing of time.