Pan 3Sixty recently completed a year long project to create thirty five 360° panoramas, showing the Suffolk & Essex countryside from the top of church towers nestled in the rich landscape along the length of the Stour Valley. The ‘View from the Tower’ virtual tour includes churches from St. Mary the Virgin at Great Bradley in the north west down through to St. Michael’s at Brantham in the south east. Other churches included range from the small and intimate, such as St. George & St. Gregory at Pentlow with its circular Norman tower, though to grander churches such as Holy Trinity in Long Melford and St. Mary the Virgin Dedham.
The ‘View from the Tower’ project is part of a larger, Heritage Lottery Funded project entitled ‘Managing a Masterpiece’. This 3 year programme (with partners including Suffolk & Essex County Councils, district councils, National Trust and local Universities) comprises of 62 different projects covering archaeology, biodiversity and conservation of historic features in order to understand, conserve and celebrate the landscape of the Stour Valley.
Pan 3Sixty photographer Phil Giles said, “This has been a fantastic project to work on and it was a privilege to see so many magnificent views of the landscape along the Stour Valley and work with so many great people. Having said that, the project was not without its challenges, namely the weather and the climb to the top of some of church towers.
The weather is always a huge factor with a project such as this, and whilst I was lucky for the most part, when conditions turned for the worse there were many hours spent waiting and hoping for favourable conditions to return. But even on the coldest, windiest days watching the changing light pass over the landscape from a high vantage point was still a pleasant way to pass the time.
Climbing to the the top of the church towers was straightforward for the most part, though a fair number of churches presented challenges. Church wardens seem to be a nimble group with a head for heights and great trust in rickety, woodworm infested old ladders, and whilst they climbed on ahead I would usually be lagging behind. Precarious as some of the climbs were, the views from the top of the church towers were always a great reward for the effort.
Click here to see the 360° panoramas, selecting the churches from an interactive map of the area.
In addition to the online version of the ‘View from the Tower’ virtual tour, a kiosk version has been produced that will tour the churches photographed for the remainder of the three year ‘Managing a Masterpiece’ programme and provide their visitors access to the panoramic views.