Lodged within the light box that is the south transept at All Saints’ Billesley are two pieces of carved stone from former times. The first is a tympanum, beautifully carved, depicting a man being chased by evil (a serpent and dragon) and moving towards the Holy Spirit (a dove).
Beneath such intricate and embroidered beauty lies a lump of stone which in the half-light of the early morning didn’t amount to much in terms of visual beauty. I could just make out the linear outline of a pattern.
Later on in the day when the sun had swung low and hard to the west my lump of stone took on a completely different aspect.
As the sunlight eddied through the Georgian glass of the bulls eye window, and crept along the face of the stone, a revelation took place:
Whilst lighting up the oolitic relief, darkness pooled into the deep undercutting and within a few minutes the pattern was alive.
And it dawned upon me.
This is how the originators must have meant their carvings to be seen - firstly in the darkness and then suddenly exposed in relief - a piece of visual magic combining skill, time and light.
Not only this - but as I watched - the pattern swayed and eddied with the movement of the light - different parts lit up, whilst others disappeared.
Only a mindset with a different gearing of time could have created such a thing. Time on a different level.
Such an appreciation of this art has now been lost with our quick-fire world and racing minds. We stand for a moment and see the hard tooled stone, without really seeing.
I sat for an hour and watched - completely taken by the moment - sinking into a timelessness that I had not experienced before.
A full hour felt like the blink of an eye.
And when the light was gone - my mind shifted gear from their world back to ours.
Saxon work at Billesley #cctphoto2012
Articulating the quoins at Billesley #cctphoto2012
Gorgeous light pricking out the limestone texture of the porch at Billesley #cctphoto2012
Waiting for the sun to angle over to the Saxon work at Billesley. #cctphoto2012
#cctphoto2012 Remarkable allegorical Tympanum at Billesley of about 1140 by the Herefordshire school. Depicting figure being chased by evil snake and dragon towards salvation represented by the dove
#cctphoto2012 The lumps and bumps in the field next to the church at Billesley reveal a deserted village
Waiting for the light to angle further round to the chancel #cctphoto2012
#Cctphoto2012 Exterior view of the church at Billesley. Shakespeare reputed to have been married here