“Watch the Birdie” Images of old Alnwick 6th Nov-15 Dec 2019 Free Entry*


Watch the Birdie

Portrait Photographs of Alnwick Families 1840 – 1914    6th Nov- 15th Dec 

Watch the Birdie is a celebration of early portrait photos from Bailiffgate’s collection.

It features photographs of Alnwick people taken from the 1840s to the beginning of the Great War.

Exhibited for the first time at Bailiffgate will be copies of photographs from an album which belonged to Reverend Leonard Shafto Orde.  Rev Orde was vicar of St Michael’s church during two periods in the 1840s and 1850s.The Album contains his collection of Cartes de Visite – photographs taken in the studio using a process patented by a Parisian photographer in 1854 which reduced production costs.  The carte de visite became extremely popular around 1859 and the phenomenon of trading these visiting cards among friends became known as ‘cardomania’.  Albums for the collection and display of the cards became a common fixture in Victorian parlours. Rev Orde’s album has a wide selection of photographs of his colleagues and parishioners. Among them are well-known local businessmen, shopkeepers, clergymen, teachers and their families.

Also on display will be highly enlarged group portraits from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Taken outside with large plate cameras these show how the technology of photography had advanced. These include photos of families, soldiers and local sports teams.

The exhibition ends on a poignant note. In 1914 many young volunteers, proudly wearing their new uniforms had their portraits taken for the first time. These images were given to their loved ones, but for some families these would be the only photo they ever had of a son, husband or father.

The photos give an insight into Alnwick society from  the 1840s to the Great War and the names in the album are a great source of information for historical research.  Current residents of Alnwick and District may recognise their ancestors’ photographs or names and be able to add to the information already known.

* Free with payment for museum entry.


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