Joanna Lumley reveals Oundle church as spires photography competition winner

Joanna Lumley reveals Oundle church as spires photography competition winner


A photograph of St Peter’s church in Oundle, Northamptonshire, taken by William Gunson, a Deputy House Master at Oundle School, has won the National Churches Trust’s ‘Save our Spires’ photography competition.


The winning photograph was revealed by Joanna Lumley at an evening event held for the Friends of the National Churches Trust at St Mary le Strand church in central London on Tuesday 1st December 2015.





William Gunson said:


“I am delighted to have won the National Churches Trusts’ ‘Save our Spires’ photography competition. 

St Peter's church stands in the middle of the ancient market town of Oundle and has the highest spire in Northamptonshire, standing proud at 210 feet above the town and its public school.  As well as being a church with a long and distinguished history, it is also home to a thriving local community, features traditional and modern worship, hosts Remembrance Day services, Oundle School lunchtime concerts and other community activities. The spire is also a landmark for our pupils at Oundle School, who have passed it every day on their way to lessons for almost 500 years. The slender spire towers over the central cloisters of the school, where I teach, and can be seen for miles around as a point for navigation when the pupils are out and about around the countryside on expeditions and CCF exercises.  From certain angles and villages around Oundle, the lancet windows of the spire align and you can see straight through the structure. Pupils also study its architecture as part of Oundle's Trivium course, and the church often features in pupils' artwork, as well as being home to regular musical offerings to the town by our pupils. The photograph is taken from the school grounds, by the Great Hall. “ 


William Gunson receives a cash prize of £125 and the St Peter’s church also receives a £125 cash prize.


Save our Spires


The photography competition is part of the charity’s campaign to highlight the plight of the UK’s church spires. Soaring high above their surroundings, church spires were built as an attempt to get as close to Heaven as possible.  Sadly, these days many are in danger of going in the other direction.


Since 2013, the National Churches Trust has funded repairs to 17 spires in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, investing over £370,000 in their future. However, last year Historic England’s  'Heritage at Risk' register showed that over 40 churches required urgent attention to their spires.  And many church spires in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are also in need of major repair. The National Churches Trust is seeking to raise another £250,000 to help safeguard the future of more church spires. You can see a video about ‘Save our Spires’ at


Claire Walker, Chief Executive of the National Churches Trust said:


“Church spires are amazing architectural achievements. It’s no surprise that many people’s favourite churches have spires, including Joanna Lumley OBE, whose favourite church is St Bride’s in the City of London, the inspiration for tiered wedding cakes and Michael Palin, one of whose favourite churches is St John’s Church in Ranmoor  which has the tallest spire in Sheffield.”


“We’re delighted to have had so many excellent entries for our ‘Save our Spires’ photography competition and would like to thank everyone who took part.  The winning entries show just why church spires are key  features of our landscape and remind us why it is so important that they are kept in good repair so that they can be enjoyed by our children and children’s children.”


The full list of prize-winning photographs


The photography competition shows why spires are such an important part of the UK’s visual landscape. The winning entries were judged to be the most visually appealing and for their originality. 82 photographs were submitted. Judges for the competition were: The Right Reverend Nicholas Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury, Christopher Jonas CBE and Sara de Rohan, Secretary, Herefordshire Historic Churches Trust.



Winner                   William Gunson for his photograph of St Peter's church, Oundle, Northamptonshire

First runner- up    Annie Martirosyan for her photograph of Holy Trinity church, Stratford upon Avon

Second runner- up  Lyn Doe,  for her photograph of St Patrick's church, Patrington, East Yorkshire,

Third runner-up    Tamsin Wooldridge, for her photograph of St Malachy's church, Hillsborough, County Down, Northern Ireland

Fourth runner-up   Tony Sellen, for his photograph of St Paul's church Chigwell, Essex

Highly Commended  Neil Hedge, for his photograph of St James church, Louth, Lincolnshire



More details at