Preserved: This intricately designed church stands alone and forgotten under the wide blue sky
Ramshackle: This church teeters on the brink of collapse, its foundations appearing to sink into the earth
All alone: Blanketed under a thick coating of snow, this church is one of many left without care or attention
The project has revealed the beautiful, but abandoned, wooden churches that are gradually tumbling down
Richard Davies spent nine years tracking down the lost churches, and produced a book with the stunning photographs.
Along with the photographs, there are first-hand accounts by Matilda Moreton of their project, and the insights and interpretations of writers and artists, travellers and historians, propagandists and politicians.
In his book Wooden Churches - Travelling in the Russian North, it says that the churches are the few remains of thousands that were built all over Russia from the time of Prince Vladimir, who, on his conversion to Christianity in 988 'ordained that wooden churches should be built and established where pagan idols had previously stood.'
The majority are clustered in the north-west corner, and bunched in certain areas like Leningrad, Vologda, Murmansk, and Archangel Regions and the Republic of Karelia.
These fragile, desecrated structures are on the verge of extinction, as no one has acted to care for them
The churches were constructed from the time of Prince Vladimir, who, on his conversion to Christianity in 988, commanded they should be built
The book claims that one of the treasures of Russia's architecture and history will be lost
The photographer's adventure began after he learned of artist Ivan Yakovlevich Bilibin, his website says.
In 1902 Bilibinm spent time photographing and studying local folk art in North Russia's Vologda Province.
He used his work for an article he penned in 1904 which he lamented the pitiful state of wooden churches.
In a scathing attack he wrote: 'In the hands of uncivilized people, they are being vandalised to the point of destruction or are ruined with "restoration" to the point of being unrecognisable'.
Most of those that survive are found in the sparsely populated north-western corner of Russia, where few can appreciate the majesty of the buildings
Some of the treasured artwork remains unscathed, despite years of neglect
The churches have crumbled away through neglects, lightning attacks, rot and one church was hit by a tractor
His photographs were published as postcards in 1911 by the Society of the St Eugenia Community as part of a drive for funds for its charitable work.
It was these postcards that captured Richard's imagination, and in 2002 he began explorig the Russian north to see what remained of the churches, returning on fresh trips to gather more information and pictures.
He says that the churches have crumbled away through neglects, lightning attacks, rot and one church 'tumbled like a pack of cards' after a tractor reversed into it.
The photographer says: 'These fragile, desecrated structures retain a spiritual presence that commands respect even in the absence of their gilded icons.
'They are nearing the end of their days.
'It is extraordinary that a country as rich and powerful as Russia, with a cultural legacy beyond compare, should let these wonderful, life-enhancing treasures slip through its fingers.'
Neglected: The remaining few extraordinary structures are barely used across the country
The photographer spent nine years discovering the forgotten churches and capturing them on film
Tuesday, November 12th, 2013:
Russians have lost all hope of getting any help from government. They are beginning to take responsibility themselves, and this includes responsibility for their cultural heritage.
Two villagers take a break from restoration work to admire the view from the Church of the Transfiguration in the village of Turchasovo
The display of some of Richard's Work:
Link back to more of his photography
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