One of the great uses of our photo archive is that it enables us to show the historic context of Attingham’s collection, its various residents and the mansion itself and I have shown you examples of this in some of my previous posts.
I am also trying to link our photos to other archive material that we have, particularly letters and diaries held here at Attingham or material held or published by other parties. Written and visual archive material are of course each valuable resources in their own right. But if the two can be linked together, one effect can be to bring out the significance of an event that can otherwise be missed if only one source of material is available.
An example of this occurred recently at Attingham, where the discovery of some new information in our correspondence archive led me to revisit some photographs from Volume 2 of Teresa Hultons’s albums which I had catalogued some weeks ago. The photos were both taken in 1903 and include a 13 year old Teresa.
The first photo, taken in April 1903 shows Teresa with the long hair typical of her appearance for much of her childhood:
The second photo taken in August of the same year shows Teresa with a significantly different look. The long hair is gone and is replaced by a severe close cropped style:
Recently discovered correspondence from 1903 makes reference to Teresa suffering from a severe bout of typhoid in that year, an event of which we were previously unaware and as a result of which she apparently lost a considerable amount of her hair.
Looking at the photos again with the advantage of this additional information I am now reasonably certain that the latter image was probably taken following this bout of sickness and actually shows the effects of Teresa’s hair loss from the typhoid rather than her adoption of the latest Italian teenage hair fashion.
Linking photos to written material is also useful in really bringing words to life and an example of this involves some diary entries made by Brada Hulton, an elder cousin of Teresa, during a trip that she made to see the Hulton family in Venice in 1894.
Her diary records some of her activities on that trip:
‘there were concerts, music lessons and bathing at the Lido. The days passed happily with long walks, picnics and some rock climbing with guides’.
We have images of some of these events in our collection and I have shown these below, firstly Brada on the beach at Lido:
And secondly Brada (sitting at the extreme left) and other members of the Hulton clan out walking in the Dolomites:
The diary entries on their own provide useful information but I believe that reading them alongside the photos enhances their impact, reinforcing the fact that the words are describing actual events and real people.
Georgina mentioned in her last post, that next month there will be an exhibition at Attingham that will provide further evidence of how we use material from our photographic and correspondence archives to bring to life events in which the 8th Lord and Lady Berwick were directly involved and to highlight key elements of their differing characters.
The exhibition will also feature a number of items from our collection including some that are rarely seen as they are generally kept in our stores. Georgina showed you a glimpse of one such collection item at the end of her last post, wondering if you could guess what it might be.
I can provide you with some other clues that may help you. At our exhibition we will be featuring the object in use at a major historical event and we know that in the days leading up to that event there was a bus strike in London – no change there then! This information comes from a letter written by the 8th Lord Berwick to Teresa’s mother, Costanza Hulton, part of which is shown below:
Oh and while the exhibition will include photographs of the mystery object at the event in question, there is already a photograph of it in one of the rooms at Attingham, so see if you can spot it next time you are here.
Look out for more information on the upcoming exhibition in future posts from both Georgina and me on this blog and also on the Attingham website.