On Bank Holiday Monday (25th May) thousands of Bargain Hunters tuning in to BBC1 saw a selection of stunning photographs of a lost age. The remarkable images came from 4 beautifully bound albums in Horsham District Council’s Horsham Museum & Gallery’s collections and the story of these albums is as fascinating as the images within.
Almost 150 years ago a Horsham resident, Robert Henderson of Sedgwick Park, undertook a World Tour. Instead of taking his own cameras on his trip, he purchased images from the studios of the best photographers he could find around the world. In India he bought images of local life captured by Samuel Bourne, and in Japan he visited the studio of Felice Beato. From Beato’s studio he selected both black and white, and colourfully hand-tinted, scenes of a rapidly disappearing “floating world”, along with images of everyday Japanese life. From unknown American photographers, he purchased images of a frozen Niagara and the giant redwoods. He was evidently just as enthralled by nature as by the building of the elevated railway on the east coast of the states. Such images may have reminded him of the mining images from Malaysia, and perhaps the refined elegance of Washington recalled his trip to Singapore.
Upon his return, Henderson had the 320 images he’d collected bound into 4 albums. No doubt he showed them to his new wife, Emma Hargreaves, who was to become the sister-in-law to Alice Liddell, the original Alice in Wonderland. Alice visited the Henderson’s home of Sedgwick Park immediately after she married Emma’s brother in Westminster Abbey. Later the original Alice would visit Horsham Museum, which was then located in Park House. The albums were given to the Museum in 1932 and have remained a much-admired record of a Victorian grand tour, which the Museum was delighted to share with the BBC audience.