Two Weddings and Several Babies

photo - india - wedding 3 cropped

More photographs from the same batch as my previous post. The one above is just 5x5cm, and is very pretty in its tiny format. It wasn’t until I scanned and enlarged it that I saw the face of the girl on the left, who looks none-too-happy to be there!

Another wedding below, earlier in date and possibly in India. Note the military uniform and the carnation worn by the groom. I wonder if these were the only photographs taken, or if there were more formal ones too?

photo - india - wedding 1 croppedphoto - india - wedding 2 cropped

I have already mentioned that the condition of many of these photographs is poor, with a lot of mottling and discolouration. The paper is thin and the finish is matte on most of them. I’m amazed that anyone even managed to peel them from an album (in which they seem to have been firmly glued) without further damage.

And finally to the babies… sat outside on a rug, enjoying the warmth. And two dogs and two goats.

Did I mention the goats?!

photo - india - babies 2 croppedphoto - india - babies 1 cropped



A Country House

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I recently bought a large batch of seemingly unrelated photographs, and spent the next few days sorting through them with the intention of keeping my favourite ones and reselling the remaining images. This is the part where I always come unstuck. Once I have spent time looking at and researching a photograph, it becomes familiar to me and I am less inclined to sell it on. Particularly when I find that the photographs are not so unrelated after all!

Tragically, many of the photos have been taken from albums and any written hints and clues are now lost. Even the position of the photographs in the album may have helped identify the people and places. The above photograph of a house is one of a small collection from this large batch that all have the same colour backing paper (remnants of album pages) and are in a similar condition (mottled and faded). They show a connection to India, family life, and the lovely old house above.

Identifying this house is proving difficult. Perhaps it is even impossible! The photograph dates to the 1920s, judging by the age of other images which I will share in future posts. It has a very familiar style and my guess is ‘English Country House’. But I am no expert and would be grateful for relevant search terms… does the small slope at the apex of the roof have a name, for instance? Perhaps the chimneys are a distinctive style?

photo - india - country house 2 cropped

This second photograph shows the right-hand door of the house, without the creeping plants that cover the outside walls. It may have been taken at a different time of year, or the plants removed. The little girl and her three dogs are just adorable! I love her curly hair and how proudly she holds the leads!

If these were my family photos I would never want to let them go. They are precious. So maybe I will hang on to them… just for a while…


Edited to add: I have found out that the roof line is called a ‘clipped gable’. And there appears to be an aerial of some kind on one of the chimneys? So perhaps the date is later than I thought (’30s?), although I’m still no closer to identifying the house!


Edited 19th March 2018: Many thanks to jamesmmcardle for his excellent input regarding this house! Here is a general summary of his observations (please see the comments for details):

Regarding the roof-line, a higher resolution scan shows the ‘aerial’ on the left, which is almost certainly a lightning rod. Plus the ‘box-like’ structure on the right resembles a look-out, implying a view worth climbing for… possibly the sea?

photo - india - country house 1 roof

A closer view of the right-hand-side exterior wall shows the unusual ’tilted square’ window and ornate bargeboards. There is more than a hint of Art and Crafts about this house! And perhaps a similarity to Red House, home of William Morris?

photo - india - country house 1 cladding

Finally, I hesitated to add the next photograph to my original post because of the extensive damage. But it clearly shows the cladding on the external wall, plus patterns to the brickwork where alterations have been made. Hopefully these are further clues that will eventually lead to the identification of this mysterious house!

photo - india - country house 3 cropped

Cabinet Card by Holgate, Burnley

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I just have to share this cabinet card of a beautiful young woman staring directly into the camera. Taken by photographer James Holgate of Bridge End Studio, Burnley, it probably dates to the 1880s, the period in which Mr. Holgate was most active. Unfortunately there are no clues as to the identity of the woman (the reverse of the card is blank). To my eyes she resembles ‘Mary (Patsy) Cornwallis West‘, although this could simply be due to the fashion of the time.

Any thoughts appreciated!

A Girls’ Night Out?

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This intriguing postcard begs a few questions. Who are these women? Do the costumes hint at a theatrical production, or perhaps a fancy dress party? And is that a toy balloon, seen between the two women sat on the floor?

Here is a close up view:

postcard usa a balloon

It appears to have an eye, so perhaps there is a face drawn on it.

Published by the U.S.A. Studios, the stamp box design on the postcard dates it to 1907-1911. Mass production of toy balloons did not start until the 1930s, although hand-made rubber balloons were available before then and extremely attractive (and sometimes dangerous!) to young children.

Edwardian newspapers reported the dangers of toy balloons, including a young boy who followed his balloon out of an upstairs window and somehow lived to tell the tale. Another young child swallowed a balloon, which then inflated each time a breath was taken (it was quickly extracted and the child survived). And the following report tells of a boy who swallowed the wooden whistle attached to his balloon, and thereafter whistled when he breathed. Thankfully the whistle was later ejected during a coughing fit:

Belper News - Friday 05 June 1908Belper News – Friday 05 June 1908

But our balloon doesn’t look like a rubber one. It has texture. Perhaps the following newspaper extract, which describes how to make a balloon from strong tissue paper, provides a clue:

Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser - Friday 06 March 1903 copySevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser – Friday 06 March 1903

Of course, none of this tells us who the women are or what they were doing, but they have provided a journey of discovery and the enjoyment of their wonderful photograph.

And I thank them very much for that!

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

Lady Mabel Bridgeman

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This cabinet card of Lady Mabel Bridgeman is a copy of the original, although not a recent one. She was born in 1855 (the eldest child of the 3rd Earl of Bradford), so I would guess the photograph was taken around 1880.

In 1887 she married William Kenyon-Slaney who, having excelled at football at Eton, was selected to play for England. And in 1873 he became the first footballer to score a goal in an international match. Perhaps this makes Mabel the original footballers’ wife? Although, by the time they married his footballing career was over and from 1886 until his death in 1908, Kenyon-Slaney acted as Member of Parliament for Newport, Shropshire.

mabel bridgeman - the shrewsbury chronicle fri may 1 1908The Shrewsbury Chronicle – Friday 1st May 1908

There are numerous mentions of Lady Bridgeman (later Lady Kenyon-Slaney) in the newspaper archives, most of them being society reports. She mixed in the same circles as the British royal family and met Queen Victoria on more than one occasion. The photograph below was taken on a visit by the Prince and Princess of Wales to Bradford, with Lady Bridgeman sat on the front row, next to Mary of Teck (Princess of Wales and later Queen consort).

The Sphere - Saturday 14 May 1904The Sphere – Saturday 14th May 1904

(A. Prince of Wales   B. Princess of Wales   C. Lady M Kenyon-Slaney)

Mabel passed away in 1933 at the age of 77. She was buried next to her husband at Ryton Church, Shifnal, Shropshire. According to the Staffordshire Advertiser 4th February 1933: There were many floral tributes, one from Lord Harewood and the Princess Royal being of pink carnations, with the inscription “In loving memory from Harry and Mary.” The ‘Mary’ in question was the daughter of Mary of Teck.

Various information from

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


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A beautiful old photograph of Daisy, who has written on the reverse Your Loving & Affectionate Sweetheart. She wears a wedding ring so presumably sent the postcard to her husband. In brackets she has included her nick-name, possibly Mamie or Marnie? And someone else has added the surname Spencer, but since there are too many Daisy Spencers’ to decide between I have not yet been able to identify her.

Published by the Curzon Studios (Stratford, Manor Park and Kilburn).

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Victorian Cyclist

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At a guess, this postcard dates to the late 1890s. The man on the bicycle obviously means business and is possibly even training for an upcoming race or two. Yet the background, which looks like a back yard, seems somehow at odds with the pose to me.

Notice the shoes. They are similar in style to the ‘Shorland’ cycling shoes in the following advertisement:

Norwich Mercury - Wednesday 23 May 1900 Norwich Mercury – Wednesday 23 May 1900

I love how the cycling suits were described as ‘sanitary’, to ‘safeguard cyclists from the effects of damp and cold’. And that there were cycling stockings specifically available for thin legs!

It would be great to identify the cyclist on this postcard but the back of the card lends no particular clues. If anyone out there can help, please let me know.


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

‘Love From M’

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I wish we sent more postcards these days. They are such a tangible connection to the past. This one was sent to Miss Gilbert, on the occasion of her birthday, and is simply signed ‘Love from M’.

‘M’ is posing in the garden, perhaps using the chair to keep her still, and it looks to be winter judging by the bare trees and the hat and gloves.

miss gilbert a crop

The postcard is addressed to Miss Gilbert, Bradney, In Bridgwater, Somerset, and is dated April 14th 1907. A search of the records on Ancestry leads me to Jessie Ellen Gilbert born 15th April 1885, so this card would have been sent for her 22nd birthday. In 1901, Jessie was living in Bradney with her parents William and Ellen.

But who is ‘M’? She lived in the same area (the card is postmarked Bridgwater) but there are no other clues. Perhaps someone will come across this blog post and recognise her from old family photos. Fingers crossed!

To Bella, From Cheesie

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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.