I had the idea for this assignment last year but it’s taking me quite some time think of the right approach. This will be a story about a pool – well, stories.
The pool lies along the Pilgrim’s Way in Surrey, on the North Downs. Its beginnings lie in pre-history and I can only find contemporaneous references to it from the 17thCentury onwards. The pool is spring-fed so it must have seemed a wondrous stretch of water to its earliest users. Some sites now refer to it as having been sacred but, so far, I haven’t been able to find any early references to it as such. It would fit, though, as pagan shrines were often erected around such springs. and, of course, early Christian churches often took over those sites as their own. It’s near to, and closely connected with the village of Albury one of whose three churches (unusual in itself for such a small place) dates back to Saxon times. Also, Roman remains were found in Albury. The village of Friday Street isn’t too far away. The name “Friday’ comes from the Old English and could have been named after Frīġedæġ, meaning the “day of Frige”, a result of an old convention associating the Old English goddess Frigg (wife of the Norse God Odin) with the Roman goddess Venus. Still, I’m conjecturing here, using my imagination.
Artists have visited the pool, it has been said to have been a favourite of the poet Lord Tennyson and was also the subject of early photographic postcards. It’s likely that the latter could have been due to a man called Martin Farquhar Tupper who lived in Albury in the 19thCentury and created a story about the pool – a story that has stuck, created versions of itself and become true in people’s minds even when they know it’s a story.
(Extract [21:39/22:24] from the film “Pilgrims Way” (1956) BFI National Archive which is part of the Orphan Works Collection.)
The pool has certainly changed over the centuries, been re-shaped and now has a fence around it. I felt a bit disappointed to begin with, in fact when I first mentioned it to my tutor, I told her the story and said, “It’s just a pond!” I couldn’t understand why such a fuss has been made about it, yet, after further visits, it’s taken hold of my imagination. There’s something about it despite its changes – an essence of something which I’m finding difficult to grasp. This is what’s been holding me back, but I’ve reached a stage where I have to put thoughts and reading to paper to see if I can find a way to evoke its effect through photography.