My Letchworth Photo Blog

My name is James Naufal-Power. I am 15 and I am doing my Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) silver award. I’m a very keen photographer and have chosen to create a three-part photo blog about Letchworth Garden City for my DofE volunteering section. I've also got a blog site where you can see all my photos. 

Photography is a hobby of mine which grew out of necessity as I needed to take good quality photos of jewellery that I make in my spare time. I started off taking pictures using my phone and then went on to using digital cameras and more recently film and medium format cameras passed down to me by my (very generous) father. Now, I take my camera(s) with me everywhere I go, whether it is on an errand to the corner shop or on a 3 day DofE expedition in the middle of the Shropshire’s wilderness.

I have recently started developing my own film and I am looking forward to printing some of my favourite pictures.

In my first blog, I have picked a handful of photos I took of my favourite building in Letchworth: The Cloisters. This stunning building is a stone’s throw away from where I live and it has greeted me every morning when I wake up and has sent me to bed every evening for the last 13 years.

The Cloisters is the brainchild of Annie Jane Lawrence, who, in 1905, leased 3 acres of isolated land in Letchworth on which she built Cloisters Lodge (where she lived) and The Cloisters.

The Cloisters was an open-air School of Psychology with student accommodation that opened in 1907. She chose Letchworth because it was the World’s first Garden City. It is thought that the inspiration came to her in a dream and was the result of the social work she took up in the slums of London and influences from her extended foreign travels.

The Cloisters was designed by Arts & Crafts architect W. Cowlishaw, a follower of William Morris. The design consisted of a South facing open-air space, The Garth, linking the kitchen and store rooms on one side to cubicles and changing rooms for the open-air swimming pool on the other. It cost £20,000 to build (Several million  pounds in today’s money).

Despite her deafness, Miss Lawrence was a music lover and had 4 organs installed in the Cloisters. She also organised and arranged regular musical performances at the Cloisters, from entire orchestras, to choirs, soloists and organ recitals attended by large audiences. These performances became part of Letchworth’s art and culture until the beginning of WWII.

During World War II the army took possession of the building, which sadly suffered a lot of damage. Annie Lawrence moved to a house in nearby Willian Way and then to St. Catherine’s Nursing Home. She offered The Cloisters to the local Masonic fraternity in 1948 and her wish to see it restored and occupied was fulfilled before her death in 1953 at the age of 90. Annie Jane Lawrence is buried in the churchyard of All Saints Church in the neighbouring village of Willian.

The Cloisters underwent a lot of restoration and improvement over the years and this unusual and impressive Grade 2* listed historic building is now the North Hertfordshire Masonic Centre.

You can see my full photo blog and other images via my website -