To Bella, From Cheesie

theatrical cabinet card small

theatrical cabinet card inscription

Sometimes I buy cabinet cards with high hopes of tracing the person, particularly if the card carries an inscription like the one above (With best wishes to Bella from Cheesie, Belfast Sep 30/85). Obviously theatrical, I assumed the gentleman to be an actor, but try as I might could not find any resemblance to other contemporary images nor any actor whose nickname might be Cheesie. A breakthrough came when I searched for the photographer John Deane Hilton of 443, West Strand, London instead:

theatrical cabinet card photographer

Advertising in The Stage, 24th September 1886, Mr J Deane Hilton described himself as a ‘theatrical photographer’:

The Stage - Friday 24 September 1886

And further searches revealed a connection between Mr Hilton and an actor named Mr W Cheesman (Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News – Saturday 15 October 1887) . Could this be Cheesie, the man on the cabinet card?

Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News - Saturday 15 October 1887 a small

Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News - Saturday 15 October 1887 b small

As mentioned in the above article, Mr W Cheesman was working with Mr J L Toole’s repertory company during 1885. In September the same year they can be located in Belfast, Ireland, touring with a production of Byron’s play The Upper CrustMr W Chees{e}man played the role of Tibthorpe (Northern Whig – Tuesday 29 September 1885), placing him in Belfast at the time he sent the photograph to Bella:

Northern Whig - Tuesday 29 September 1885 small

So where does this leave us with the image itself? The Upper Crust doesn’t involve the style of costume worn in the photograph, but a previous production does. In July 1885 Toole’s Theatre, London, staged The O’Dora by Burnand, a parody of Sardou’s Theodora. Mr Cheesman was cast as Agadokitis and judging by the following illustration, the costumes bore a strong resemblance to the cabinet card:

The Era - Saturday 11 July 1885 smallThe Era – Saturday 11 July 1885

Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News - Saturday 01 August 1885 smallIllustrated Sporting and Dramatic News – Saturday 01 August 1885

So I believe we now have a name to put to the face. Thank you Cheesie, for leaving us the clues! If anyone has a connection to Mr Cheesman feel free to contact me, I would love to hear from you.

Newspaper clippings from The British Newspaper Archive  © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Olive Maud Macaulay

olive maud macaulay a small

Everybody belongs to somebody. That is the thought I always have in my head when I acquire new portraits and embark on a little research.

Take the above cabinet card, for instance. It arrived with a small collection of other photographs relating to the Monson family (see previous blog posts). An attractive lady in a pretty dress with an enigmatic expression. To me, she looks young and full of hope, but the card does not identify who she is.

Fortunately a second cabinet card of the same lady (below) is inscribed on the reverse, with the name ‘Olive Bruce (nee Macaulay)’:

olive maud macaulay c small

Here she appears a little older and perhaps more pensive. I sense some sadness in her expression. So now I am intrigued.

From the newspaper archives I quickly learn that a marriage took place 19th August 1903 between Robert Perry Bruce, of Florence, and Olive Maud Macaulay, of Paignton, South Devon. The wedding is described in some detail in the Western Morning News (20 August 1903), and appears to have been a grand affair with the bride wearing a dress of ‘rich braided cream silk, with train to match, covered with family Honiton lace‘.

Marriage Western Morning News - Thursday 20 August 1903

Sadly, Robert Bruce died in 1914 at the age of just 52. Olive outlived her husband by a further fifty-four years, passing away 1968 in Merton, Surrey, at the age of 93.

How is Olive connected to the Monson family, such that her portrait was bundled together with their own family portraits? Among the (long!) list of wedding presents described in the newspaper is an ‘antique jewelled cross’ gifted by ‘Mr and Mrs Henry Monson’. Could this be Henry John Monson from my previous blog post? In which case, Mrs Monson would be Theodosia A. E. Wright. And the name Theodosia runs through these families, with Henrietta Anne Theodosia Monson as another of the portraits, and Olives’ own sister Miss Lois Theodosia Macaulay (born 1882; see above extract).

The connections might not be straight-forward and require further research, but in the end I come back to my first thought. That everybody belongs to somebody.

Various information from

Newspaper clipping/quotes from The British Newspaper Archive  © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

North Lynn House

north lynn house

Here is the second photograph in the album described in my last blog post, this one labelled ‘North Lynn House’.

Look carefully and you will see two figures on the far left who appear to be playing archery (the target is to the right of the side door of the house). I particularly like the vines that are trailed vertically up the walls in an orderly fashion.

At the time this image was taken there were relatively few inhabitants in this area of Norfolk, which has made tracing the house a little easier. On the 1886 ordnance survey map of King’s Lynn is a building that forms part of North Lynn Farm, and the building shares a similar footprint to one above. In particular there is a small courtyard area, that would be located behind the side door next to the archery target. Also note the location of the pond on both the photograph and the map.

North Lynn Farm 1886

Looking at the 1906 map, the Lodge and Farm are less than half a mile apart, with very little in-between.

Farm and Lodge 1906 ‘Maps reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland’
Map Images Website

As for inhabitants, the earliest record I can find comes from the Electoral Rolls of Norfolk, England 1836-37, listing ‘Giles Walker’ as occupier of farmland owned by Lord William George Bentinck.

1836 Norfolk, England, Register of Electors 1836-37

The 1851 census describes Giles Walker as resident at ‘North Lynn Hall’ (presumably an alternative name for the farm) with his given occupation as ‘farmer of 700 acres’. In January 1860, at the age of 67, Giles died and the farm became home to William Marshall and family. Sadly, in 1881 William reportedly took his own life in a gruesome manner, an event described by newspapers at the time.

Norfolk News - Saturday 12 March 1881Norfolk News – Saturday 12 March 1881

The farm was subsequently managed by the two sons of William Marshall, until the older son William Francis Marshall passed away in 1931, aged 78. Between 1938 and 1950 the farm house disappears from the ordnance survey maps, although most of the surrounding buildings remain in place.

I wonder who the people playing archery were? Perhaps members of the Marshall family? I find it sad to think that the house no longer exists, but I hope this blog post helps to keep the memory of the old farm, home and families alive :).

Census & Electoral Rolls information from

Newspaper clipping from The British Newspaper Archive  © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

The Lodge (North Lynn)

the lodge - north lynn

The above photograph is quite large and comes from a Victorian album I recently bought. It is the first in the album, and is labelled (in faded pencil) as ‘The Lodge – North Lynn’.

All photographs are firmly stuck to cardboard pages and the subject matter varies from groups of people and unknown buildings, to copies of etchings and church interiors.

I would love to know who the people in the carriage are and how they are connected to the Lodge. Look carefully at the right-hand side and you will see someone, possibly a maid, holding the gate open. And in the far distance are buildings that resemble a farm (the subject of my next blog post).

With help from members of the King’s Lynn Forums, I am almost certain it is the Lodge marked on the 1906 Ordnance Survey map of Norfolk, England:

Ordnance Survey 1906 ‘Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland’
Map Images Website

Earlier maps also show a building in the same location, just North of King’s Lynn and close to the Coastguard Station on the banks of the River Ouse. The building can still be seen on Google Maps. But apart from location, its history remains hidden for now.