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noisy silences

'noisy silences' is a series of listenings that explore the relationship between the soundscape and contemplative practice.

Image by NordWood Themes

Chapel of St. Birinus, Abbey Church, Dorchester, UK

11th April 2024

Dorchester Abbey Meditation 11-04-24Richard Bentley
00:00 / 20:26
Dorchester Abbey
Image by NordWood Themes

Magdalen Bridge, Oxford, UK

22nd October 2023

Aluminium pierces, churns and scrapes along the river bed, perforating the watery wash of pedalo paddles. A mysterious bass knocks in pulses, like electrical bubbles rising within the recorder itself.

Punting at Magdalen Bridge 22-10-23Richard Bentley
00:00 / 01:06
punting magdalen bridge
Image by NordWood Themes

Oxford Botanical Garden, Oxford, UK

22nd October 2023

Caught in listening, the chime of college bells lose their power to structure this lazy Sunday afternoon. The muffled splashes and soft whining of the fountain hold me beneath the surface, drowning me in detail.

Oxford Botanical Gardens 22-10-23Richard Bentley
00:00 / 00:50
oxford botancal garden fountain
Image by NordWood Themes

Furness Abbey, Barrow-in-Furness, UK

31st May 2023

I could have sworn I heard a bell tolling behind the modulating whine of the sit-on lawn mower.

Cut grass incense and this mono chord chant support my seclusion, connecting me with brothers lying in peace nearby.

Furness Abbey 31-05-23Richard Bentley
00:00 / 16:50
Furness Abbey
St Leonards Churchyard
Image by NordWood Themes

St Leonard's Churchyard, Wallingford, UK

22nd May 2023

St Leonards Wallingford 22-05-23Richard Bentley
00:00 / 06:55
St Leonards Churchyard
Image by NordWood Themes

St Leonard's, Wallingford, Oxfordshire

12th December 2022

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Occasionally a sound or image grabs my attention and asks me to stop and notice it. This was one of those remarkably unremarkable moments, the view replaying Thomas Merton's words in my head: “...a tree gives glory to God by being a tree.”

St Leonard's Churchyard
Image by NordWood Themes

Nosworthy Way, Mongewell, Wallingford, Oxfordshire

8th December 2022

Low, rolling washes of rubber on tarmac spill over the bridge, the flam of tyres sounding its joins either end. Intrusive higher registers are lost to the cold, clear skies, leaving space below for the silent sway of teasels.

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Wallingford Bypass
Image by NordWood Themes

The Sanctuary, Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading

15th November 2022

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RBH Sanctuary 15-11-22Richard Bentley
00:00 / 10:09
The Sanctuary
Image by NordWood Themes

St Peter's Church, Wallingford, Oxfordshire

10th November 2022

With eyes closed, backup beepers bring the dilapidated pipe organ to life and bird calls fall from the rafters illuminating the nave. The distant pitch-sweep of brakes mingle with room tone, until I’m gathered in by the slow, staggered rhythm of beads passing through my fingers.

St Peters
Image by NordWood Themes

Bradford's Brook, Wallingford, Oxfordshire

3rd November 2022

Distance reduces an aircraft to rumble, revealing the babbles and bubbles of recent rainfall. Owl calls quickly disappear behind questions: How long ‘til pick-up? Is the recorder too precariously balanced? Did I set the sample rate? Why did I feel the need to record?

Bradford's Brook 03-11-22Richard Bentley
00:00 / 07:18
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Image by NordWood Themes

St John the Baptist, Mongewell, Oxfordshire

15th October 2022


An air of antiquity laid to ruin by the piercing floral scent of a diffuser. Temple bells squeeze through a smartphone speaker, a distraction from thunderous amplified silence of traffic, noise floor and blood flow.

An anxious silence, but with the security of high-gain hearing.


Photo credit: Sarah Bentley

St John the Baptist, Mongewell 15-10-22Richard Bentley
00:00 / 22:16
St John Baptist Mongewel
St Marys Wallingford
Image by NordWood Themes

St Mary's Church, Wallingford, Oxfordshire

13th September 2022

St Mary's Church Wallingford 13-09-22Richard Bentley
00:00 / 21:03
Lower Wharf
Image by NordWood Themes

Lower Wharf, Wallingford, Oxfordshire

8th September 2022

Lower Wharf, Wallingford 1pm 08-09-22 ExcerptRichard Bentley
00:00 / 10:02

In one step the hollow alleyway acoustic bursts into a sodden expanse. Leaves and roof tiles glitter above. Below, droplets sound the mezzanine and run-off, the stream. The scene is intimate and closed until thunder draws me outwards, past the Chilterns, someway beyond.


Small Silence [  ] installation, Broad Street Mall, Reading

New Barn Dorchester
Image by NordWood Themes

New Barn Field Centre, Bradford Peverell, Dorchester

3rd September 2022

Neatly draped over parched pasture.

Shielded wires mask the babble of conversation

A bitstream cacophony from silence.

Image by NordWood Themes

Quarr Abbey, Isle of Wight

15th August 2022

Quarr Abbey Nave 10am 15-08-22Richard Bentley
00:00 / 21:18
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