Monthly Archives: May 2019

A Grand Old Age

This is an old sepia photograph of a seaside resort, which was taken, I suspect, in the early twentieth century. I don’t know where it was taken: I am sure it is somewhere in England, but there are few clues in the photograph itself. There is what looks like a ruined castle on the top of a hill in the background, and for a time I flirted with the idea of Scarborough. The wall is too high, however, the buildings in the centre are too grand, and the harbour is missing. Wherever the photograph was taken it is evocative of a grand old age.

Graveyard Art

There is something rather lovely about this old gravestone, standing snug against the sandstone walls of St Martin’s in Brighouse. Perhaps it’s the almost Pre-Raphaelite design, perhaps it is the challenge presented by the Roman numerals. It stands out not by its size or dominance of the graveyard, but by the fact that it hides its beauty and challenges you to discover it.

JOSEPH BARBER DIED

MARCH XIX MDCCCLXII

AGED LVII YEARS

MARIANNE BARBER DIED

SEPTEMBER XIII MDCCCLXXV

Joseph Barber was a Brighouse solicitor and mill-owner. His son, William (who may well have commissioned the gravestone), at one stage contested the Halifax constituency as a Conservative candidate and later became a High Court Judge.

Stone Antiquities And Tree Trunk Props

This little Victorian Carte de Visite dates from a time when photographs were for special occasions, rather than the result of a selfie-click on a smartphone. Young men or women would have their photographs taken on birthdays and holidays, wearing their very best clothes, and posing against a background of stone antiquities and tree-trunk props (the props really were to prop you up and keep you still to accommodate the lengthy shutter speeds of the Victorian cameras). Every northern mill town would have its fill of photographic studios, and these would often have branches in the seaside towns that were becoming more and more popular for Bank Holiday trips.

Who this young lady is, I have no idea, but she has the look of a woman of strong character, who might just have severed that tree branch all by herself.

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