Can you tell me more about this mystery photograph and why it was taken?
This photograph is something of a mystery. The couple in the centre are my ancestor Jane (born 1854) and her husband Charles (born 1853) and the man on the end is Jane’s son Harry (born 1876). His wife, Alice, is seated on the far left and his daughters, Mary (born 1899) and Edith (born 1901), stand between them. I think the photograph dates from 1909. Charles was a foreman porter, so the room seems far too grand to be their home. Can you tell me why it was taken and why the women on either end are in matching outfits? Veronica Maddocks, Canada
AThis is a great family group photograph, the older couple at the centre, presumably surrounded by their children, grandchildren and extended members of their family. It was probably taken in a photographer’s studio. Painted backdrops with similar leaded windows and drapes can be seen in other studio photographs, and the symmetry of the two young women wearing similar, but not matching, dark dresses at either end suggests that the photograph was set up by a professional. On the evidence from the dress, I would suggest a date slightly later than 1909, probably around 1912-13, certainly pre-First World War. If you have the date of Charles and Jane’s marriage it could be worth checking to see if the photograph might fit with being a 40th wedding anniversary commemoration. Such anniversaries became increasingly celebrated from the late-Victorian period onwards. Alison Toplis