Sharp-eyed viewers will probably recognise these buildings from a painting in Unmitigated England. They are without doubt my favourite model farm buildings, a mid-19th century group that, along with stables and a half-submerged church, form all that remains of the Normanton estate in Rutland. St.Matthews is now marooned like a baroque lighthouse on nearby Rutland Water, but for all the cycling, walking and messing about in boats going on so near, hardly anybody appears to come down a little lane opposite one of the main, very expensive, car parks. Normanton Lodge farm comes into view from behind a couple of modern barns (that's their shadow in the foreground) on a bend in the road winding across to Empingham. For a long time there was a bright red portable water tank on tracks in the foreground, and it's there in my watercolour. But on Thursday I took advantage of an extremely cold but bright afternoon to do some preliminary work on a future project, and of course I came straight down here to find that much of the detritus in front of the buildings had been cleared away. Snap. Snap. The big house was demolished in 1925, but it doesn't take much imagination to still feel the presence of many farm workers going about their agrarian business in stone built barns, workshops and stockyards. I imagine the chimney had something to do with steam, probably to drive machinery like a sawmill. And somewhere to get warm on a frosty morning.
I am a designer, writer and photographer who spends all his time looking at England, particularly buildings and the countryside. But I have a leaning towards the slightly odd and neglected, the unsung elements that make England such an interesting place to live in. I am the author and photographer of over 25 books, in particular Unmitigated England (Adelphi 2006), More from Unmitigated England (Adelphi 2007), Cross Country (Wiley 2011), The Cigarette Papers (Frances Lincoln 2012) and Preposterous Erections (Frances Lincoln 2012)