St Peter & St Paul Swaffham
with St Mary Sporle
Photo by Jack Mitchell
Jack's Frost story...
My name is Jack Mitchell, a Bristol boy, domiciled in Swaffham for 30 years. One of my hobbies is photography and I belong to two local camera clubs and enter competitions regularly. In January this year a competition topic was ‘Winter Scene’, but the weather was so relentlessly wet and mild that I was struggling to shoot anything remotely wintry and time was soon running out.
Then one morning at 7am, whilst dutifully (but unusually) bringing my wife, Mary, a cup of tea and with just a couple of days to go to the competition entry deadline, I pulled the curtains and was rewarded with a sharp frost. Not the snow I was hoping for, but it would have to do, so I picked up my camera and headed out in search of a picture.
I soon found myself in the churchyard, where the hard ground frost on the grass and gravestones seemed to fit the bill. After firing off a few trial shots, I was drawn to a spot on the easterly side, which felt just right – a bit of a clearing, crisp white grass, upright gravestone and trees in the background. So whilst lying on the frozen ground and snapping away at this angle and that, I began to think of a title for my picture and soon came up with the stupendous title of ‘Frost in the Graveyard’. Before getting to my feet I did the usual check of scrolling through the images on the camera screen, checking for correct exposure and clarity.
A golden rule in photography is that words in the picture must be readable, so I enlarged the image on the screen to check the gravestone’s inscription and to my astonishment read that this was the grave of one Alfred FROST. At first I couldn’t believe my eyes and just had to check the stone to see if my camera was lying. But as we know, the camera never lies - although some would disagree, especially with current image manipulation software. After coming to terms with this coincidence, I concluded that this picture was just meant to be and enthusiastically entered ‘Frost in the Graveyard’ into the competition.
In the event it didn’t do too badly scoring 18 out of 20, but of course I think the judge had a bad day!
And the story doesn’t end there, because three weeks later I was relating my tale to a friend and showed him the photograph. He studied the inscription and read that Alfred died aged 29 on 12th January 1919. Slowly it dawned on me that I must have been in the churchyard at a similar time in January, so with a certain amount of trepidation, I checked the metadata attached to the image file and literally jumped out of my skin, when I read 12th January 2014.
Since then I have developed a certain affinity with our Mr. Alfred Frost and have decided to find out a bit about him. Why did he die aged just 29? Was it a war wound? Maybe he was a victim of the flu epidemic that swept the country soon after the war. If I discover anything, maybe I’ll let you know.