Grovely Wood

Recently, I have taken to doing some photography in Grovely Wood. It’s a strange place that reminds me of some parts of Cornwall (where I grew up) that have an eerie occult feel.  I went to the woods several weeks ago to try out the large format camera for the first time. As I walked through the wood, I saw a ceramic ‘goblin’ mask pinned to a tree staring at me. Initially, it sort of freaked me out, then I thought “hang on this’ll make a good shot to do with the new camera”. So, I took the shot (then, possibly messed it up by double exposing it whilst cocking up the dark slides, but that is another story). I must admit sticking my head under the dark cloth was a little unsettling at the time especially as I was focusing on the eyes of the mask through the magnifying loupe! I haven’t seen the mask since I have returned to the woods…

Whilst I was out there shooting this week, I saw some more interesting things. There were a couple of odd ‘gnarled’ trees amongst the straight trees which line the roman road that cuts through the woods. On closer inspection, I saw that one of the trees had a small cloth ‘bag’ in red and white in it. I have seen similar things at ancient sites in Cornwall too. I took a few shots of the tree and another one near by.

I checked up the trees on good old Wikipedia afterwards, and it said that four sisters were murdered here for apparently being witches and that the trees have seemingly grown above their graves. The wikipedia site also said that people left offerings to the sisters at the trees, which I guess is the bag that I saw.

When I lived in Essex, I lived just up the road from Matthew Hopkins house (now a nice restaurant) – he was the most infamous witch hunter in Britain in the 1600s. The nearby town of Manningtree was also a popular drowning and hanging spot for witches too!

As would be expected, all these spots are regarded as being haunted, Essex is a particularly popular place for ghosts to hang out it seems…

I also saw a couple of hides whilst I was there and photographed them too. The only other creatures I saw in the woods were a few jackdaws and deer.

My original intention was to shoot some test shots on digital then come back and commit the best ones to 5×4 black and white film (lovely Kodak Tri-X!).

I expect as I explore the wood further, I might come across a few more odd things. Either way, the wood has a very odd vibe to it!

Here are a few shots in the meantime…