Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Friday 2 October 2020

Victorian rural life in photographs

The MailOnline had a recent report about the forthcoming sale at auction of an album of photographs taken by Capt. Thomas Honywood of Horsham in West Sussex in the late 1840s and 1850s. These are the earliest known photographs of southern English life. Striking and well composed they are a fascinating record of life in the area, and a valuable record of social and rural history. The world they depict is very much of its time and place, yet, like similar images and accounts of life in the mid-Victorian countryside, they have a timeless dimension, links to centuries past and to traditions maintained. They are from the time of the Great Exhibition of 1851, yet in other respects they are keeping pace with the ways of previous centuries.

Although they are from Sussex rather than Dorset they do illustrate the type of communities in amongst which the young Thomas Hardy grew up and observed, and which laid down so much of the texture of his novels.

It is to be hoped that the collection will be secured for a suitable museum or archive that can make them available to a wide audience.

The article, which reproduces a number of these striking photographs, can be seen at In an English Country Album

No comments: