yeovil trades & traders

Yeovil's Photographers

The Victorian craze comes to Yeovil





The 1850s saw the introduction of the photographic studio in England, when the new 'science' of photography meant that a 'likeness' became affordable for the masses. As with other towns, Yeovil saw its fair share of photographic artists setting up studios and this page is a synopsis of the known early photographers in Yeovil, several of whom have their own pages on this website.

Initially, in the 1850s, temporary photographic studios would be set up in shops in the town by visiting professional photographers and several are noted below.


An advertisement for a temporary photographic studio for an un-named photographer from the Sherborne Mercury's edition of 26 August 1856.


In 1860 Yeovil had just one professional photographer, Henry Goodfellow. In 1862 John Chaffin established his photographic studio in Hendford and by 1866 James Francis had opened a photographic studio in Princes Street. In 1882 Adam Gosney of Sherborne opened a studio (one of his six) in Middle Street. By the 1890's these pionéers had been joined by Mrs Lewis Lee of Earle Street, William Sherrell of Middle Street, J Bell of Hendford, Jarratt Beckett of Hendford and FG Christopher of Middle Street. The following decade saw the arrival of more professional photographers with Witcomb & Son of Middle Street, Mrs Grace Cumming of Middle Street, HS McNair of Court Ash and Ross & Co of Princes Street.

As an example of the cost of a photograph - the visit to the photographer's studio was generally free and the following list of prices, from J Bell of Hendford in 1896, are typical -

  • Cartes de visite - 12 copies from 7 shillings (about £35 at today's value)
  • Cartes de visite - 6 copies from 4 shillings
  • Cartes de visite - 3 copies from 2s 6d
  • Re-orders - 6d each, any number
  • Cabinet Cards - 12 copies from 12 shillings
  • Cabinet Cards - 6 copies from 7s 6d
  • Cabinet Cards - 3 copies from 4s 6d
  • Re-orders - 1s each, any number

Cartes de visite were introduced in Britain in 1859 and were a relatively cheap way for almost anyone to have their photograph taken. Cartes de visite (also known as cartes or CDVs), are small paper-on-card photographs. They typically measure 4" x 2½" (102mm x 62mm) and the photograph which was pasted on to the card was roughly cut to about 3½" x 2¼" (90mm x 57mm). They were never actually used as visiting cards.

Cabinet cards are the larger version of the carte de visite and customers were often sold the same photo in both sizes. Cabinet cards measure 16.5 x 10.5cm and usually have the studio name and address printed at the bottom. The cabinet card persisted until about 1910 by which time it had been replaced by the much cheaper postcard format.

Both from my collection

At left is a carte de visite by John Chaffin & Sons, at right a cabinet card by John Bell, both date to the 1890s and are reproduced here about actual size.


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Visiting Professional Photographers


Mr Sharp


Mr Sharp of London is thought to have been the first professional photographer to visit Yeovil with a temporary photographic studio set up in Reckleford (today's Market Street) for a short six-month season in 1847. The only references to him in Yeovil are from the Western Flying Post reproduced here.

Mr Sharp was, in all probability, Cornelius Sharp (1810-1886) who had a photographic studio in Southwark, London, between 1846 and 1848 before moving to Huddersfield in 1851.



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J Eastham


J Eastham of 2 Hammet Street, Taunton was possibly the second professional photographer to visit Yeovil with a temporary photographic studio set up in Raymond's gent's outfitters in Middle Street. The only references to him in Yeovil are from the Western Gazette's edition of 5 April 1853 and the 12 April 1853 edition of the Sherborne Mercury reproduced here.

Nothing else is known.


Advertisement from the Western Gazette's edition of 5 April 1853.


Advertisement from the Sherborne Mercury's edition of 12 April 1853.


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J S Clift


JS Clift was another professional photographer to visit Yeovil with a temporary photographic studio set up in Mrs Cox's premises in South Street. The only reference to him in Yeovil is from the Western Flying Post of 24 July 1855 reproduced here. Nothing else is known.



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Philip Monson


Philip Monson was another visiting professional photographer in Yeovil with a photographic studio in Princes Street during the mid-1850s. The advertisement below is from the Western Gazette's edition of 26 August 1856 reproduced here. Monson left Yeovil in late October 1856. Nothing else is known.



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Mr M Brown


Another professional photographer to visit Yeovil with a temporary photographic studio set up in Perry's Hotel in South Street during 1856. Mr Perry was, in fact John Perry the technical blacksmith and temperance hotelier photographed around 1858 by John Swatridge (see below). The advertisement below was placed in the Western Flying Post from April to June 1856. Nothing else is known of Mr M Brown.



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H & J Walter


Probably among the last of the visiting professional photographers since by now there were several locally established photographers, H&J Walter of Oxford Street, London, visited Yeovil with a temporary photographic studio in Mrs Hand's premises in Silver Street - the advertisement below is from the 26 June 1860 edition of the Western Flying Post. Nothing else is known. Mrs Hand was the widow of artist and photographer George Monck Hand.



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Yeovil's Professional Photographers


John & Thomas Swatridge




It is probable that John Swatridge was the first professional Yeovil photographer and the photographic portrait at left of John Perry, technical blacksmith and temperance hotelier, is thought to have been taken around 1855. Perry appears to have been a supporter of early photography in Yeovil and his hotel frequently hosted temporary studios by visiting professional photographers.

John Swatridge (1810-c1860s) was a Marble Carver and Gilder by trade and photography appears to have been a sideline although he is known to have had a photographic studio. His son, Thomas Sydenham Swatridge (1841-1909), however, became a professional photographer and eventually ran two photographic studios in London.

For John & Thomas Swatridge's webpage - click here.

John Swatridge's logo on the back of the John Perry portrait above.


A Carte de Visite by John Swatridge, with the back logo shown by its side. The square corners of the CDV would suggest a date of the very early 1870s.


Courtesy of Bill & Audrey Robertson

Another carte de visite by John Swatridge. Slightly later than the previous example and dating to the late 1860s - indicated by the carpet showing at the sitter's feet (this full-length style of portrait was out of fashion by the early 1870s), the square corners of the carte (rounded corners were only introduced in the early 1870s to prevent tearing the pages of the newly fashionable carte albums) and the small logo on the back.

What dates it most accurately is the sitters fashionable hat and dress - the crinoline went out of fashion quite dramatically about 1868. The lengths of skirt that used to fall over the crinoline were gathered up at the back over a bustle and her ensemble characterises the new style of fashionable women’s dress. It has an over-skirt and the bodice now extends below the waist.


The announcement of the collaboration between Thomas Swatridge and artist Frederick Treble who would produce oil portraits based on Thomas' photographs ran in the Western Flying Post throughout May and June 1859. The partnership did not last long as the following year Thomas was collaborating with another artist - Mr Lawson (see below).


Courtesy of Ali Salman

A carte de visite by Thomas Swatridge. The studio address of 50 Dalston Lane dates this carte to between 1877 and 1881.

Thomas' later photographic studios were at 66 Church Street, Camberwell and 50 Dalston Lane, Hackney (1877-1881) before moving to 3 Alfred Terrace, Holloway Road, Islington (1883-4). By the time of the 1901 census Thomas had retired and he died in Lambeth in 1909.  

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Henry Marsh Custard Jnr


One of the earliest of Yeovil's professional photographers was Henry Marsh Custard Jnr but it appears that he was only operating for a short period during 1856. Born in Yeovil on 8 August 1835 he was the son of Henry Marsh Custard, a bookseller, printer and stationer whose premises were on the corner of what is now Princes Street and Westminster Street. Henry Jnr clearly set up his photographic studio in his father's premises but this venture seems to have been only temporary. Henry Jnr became an artist and died in Rome on 12 April 1863 age 28.


Advertisement placed in the 1 July 1856 edition of the Western Flying Post.


Advertisement for Henry Custard Jnr's 'Photographic Institution' in the 2 December 1856 edition of the Western Flying Post. As a rough guide to costs at this time, five shillings would, at today's value, be equal to about £20 - so very early photography was not cheap for the consumer.

The grave of Henry Marsh Custard Jnr.

The headstone inscription reads "To the memory of H Marsh Custard, British Artist of Yeovil Somerset England who died April 12th 1863 aged 28 years".

The slab inscription reads "In sacred remembrance of Henry Marsh Custard of Yeovil Sumerset (sic) England. Born August 8th 1834 Died April 19th (sic) 1863. This tribute is placed to his beloved memory by his sorrowing Mary. Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth; Yea, saith the spirit, that they may rest from their labours and their works do follow them".


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Philip Perry


Philip Perry, born in 1837, was the son of technical blacksmith and temperance hotelier John Perry mentioned above. Philip was a blacksmith like his father and had clearly learnt from Mr M Brown (see above) who had set up a temporary photographic studio in Perry's Temperance Hotel during 1856. As seen from the advertisement below, after Brown had left, Philip Perry advertised himself as a photographer at his father's hotel. None of his work is known.


Advertisement placed in the 5 August 1856 edition of the Western Flying Post.


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George Bartlett Coggan


George Bartlett Coggan was born in Aller, Somerset, in 1816 and baptised at St Andrew's church, Aller, on 3 June 1816. He was the eldest of the four children of yeoman farmer John Coggan (1791-1870), originally from Muchelney, and his wife Hannah née Cox (b1799), originally from Martock. George was living in Curry Mallet with his parents and siblings in the 1841 census.

In 1846, at Langport, George married Anne Burge Maynard, the widow of James Maynard. However it appears to have been a very strange (if not strained) marriage since by the time of the 1851 census 34-year old George was back living with his parents in Curry Mallet where he was listed as married but for his occupation he stated "nothing at all". Ann Coggan and her daughter, Harriett Maynard (by her first husband) are shown as residing separately from George in 1851, 1861 and 1871. Ann is described as landed proprietor in 1851 and 1861, and she and her daughter are listed as annuitants in 1871.

George seems to have lived a roving life with a disparate range of jobs and in 1851 he was made bankrupt and the proceedings, published in the London Gazette's edition of 2 September outline his wanderings "George Bartlett Coggan, Schoolmaster, now and for six months last past residing in the parish of North Curry, in the county of Somerset, keeping a Boy's School, and giving Lectures, and also acting as Agent for a Loan Society, previously residing at Curry Mallet, in the said county, and giving Lectures, previously residing in America, and in the year 1849 residing at Langport, in the said county of Somerset, in partnership with David Jarvis, and carrying on the business of a Draper and Grocer, an insolvent debtor...."

During the 1850s George became involved in the new art of photography but, once again, he seemed to move around a lot. He is known to have had a studio in Regent Street, London, before moving to 107 Friar Gate, Derby, in 1857 but moving on again in early 1858.

 In 1858 George was granted two patents. The first was for "Improved instruments to be used in the sensitizing and developing of photographic plates". The second was for his invention of "a new portable apparatus to be called a 'Stereoscopia,' for exhibiting stereoscopic pictures."

It was also during 1858 that he was mentioned in 'The Engineer' in connection with his 'Stereoscopia' which transformed two images into one stereoscopic view effect.  It was probably in late 1858 or early 1859 that he moved to Yeovil and set up a photographic studio - the carte de visite below is from this period when he had studios at Yeovil and Shepton Mallet. Interesting that he describes himself on the reverse of the CDV as "Artist, Dentist, &c".


From my collection

As a sidenote, this carte de visite is of Susan Ellis (1839-1903) originally from Halstock, Dorset, who, in the 1861 census (about the time of this photograph) was listed as a 23-year old servant living with and working for the family of bookseller, stationer and printer Henry Wippell at (today's) 1 & 3 Princes Street.

At Halstock on 15 June 1862 Susan married soldier George Paul, eight years her senior and also from Halstock, where they lived after their marriage. They had at least one son, Walter, born in Halstock in 1863 before the family moved to Leeds, Yorkshire. They returned to live in Halstock by 1901. Susan died at Halstock in 1902, aged 73, and George died there in 1903 aged 82.

George Coggan's stay in Yeovil was brief, for by 1861 he was working in Magdalen Street, Glastonbury, concentrating on his career as a dentist, as well as maintaining a photographic studio in Yeovil - the CDV of the elderly man above is dated 1862. By 1881 he was living at 9 New Wells Road, Shepton Mallet, still practicing as a dentist. In 1881 he married Matilda Sarah Wadge at Shepton Mallet but it appears from the following news article, from the 4 July 1884 edition of the Western Gazette, that even with yet another new occupation he wasn't happy.


George Bartlett Coggan died at Shepton Mallet on 26 January 1887, aged 71. His will was proved the following May when it was recorded noted that his personal estate was valued at £41 (about £18,500 at today's value).


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George Monck Hand


George Monck Hand was born in Southwark, Surrey, on 26 June 1828, the son of John Hand (1780-c1828), Captain of Marines, and Sophia Anne née Tracy (b1789). George was baptised at St George, Camberwell, Surrey on 29 July 1828 at which time his father was deceased. By 1851 George was studying at the Terrace House Training Establishment for Schoolmasters in Battersea. It is not known if he became a schoolmaster, but the Western Flying Post reported that on 2 September 1857, at St John's church, Yeovil, George "of Chatham" married Sarah Leigh Rendall, only daughter of Giles Rendall, confectioner of Silver Street, and his wife Melina. George and Sarah were to have a daughter, Alice (b1860). By the time of the marriage Giles Rendell was deceased and Melina was running the confectionery shop next door to the Half Moon Inn. It was in the confectionery shop that George Hand briefly set himself up as an artist and photographer.

He placed an advertisement in the 10 November 1858 edition of the Bridgwater Mercury that 'heliographic portraits' could be obtained at his studio in Silver Street, 2 doors from the corner of Middle Street. (Heliography is the photographic process invented by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce around 1822. The process used Bitumen of Judea, a naturally occurring asphalt, as a coating on glass or metal that hardened in proportion to its exposure to light. When the plate was washed with oil of lavender, only the hardened areas remained). George was also listed in a trade directory of 1859 (his only trade listing).

George Monck Hand died on 19 May 1860 at Yeovil. He was aged just 31. His will was proved in September 1860 in which he was described as an Artist. His effects were valued as "under £300" (in excess of £300,000 at today's value). The following month Sarah let out his studio to probably the last of the visiting professional photographers, H&J Walter of Oxford Street, London.  

No examples of his photographic work have yet been discovered.

In the 1861 census his 33-year old widow, Sarah, was listed as a "Pastrycook employing 23 men, 1 boy & 1 girl" still living in Silver Street with her daughter Alice. Sarah's mother Melina died in 1862. In the autumn of 1862, at Southampton, Sarah married Henry White and in the 1871 census they were living in Silver Street (but now two doors away from the Half Moon Inn) and Henry gave his occupation as a Confectioner. Next door, in the original confectioner's shop next door to the Half Moon, was George T Rawlins (see next) and his family. George was a photographer. It appears, however, that by this time the original confectionary shop had been split into two separate premises.


This is an enlargement of the central section of a photograph dating to 1900. The Half Moon is the three-storey building just to left of centre and Giles and Melina Rendell's confectionery shop, where George Monck Hand set up his photographic studio, is the two-storey building at centre. 


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George T Rawlins


George Monck Hand (see previous) died in 1860 and it appears that he had set up a photographic studio in Silver Street by converting his wife's parents' confectionery premises into two - his studio being in one part and the confectionery business in the other part. She continued the business after his death and the death of her parents, as noted in the 1871 census, but her husband's studio was apparently taken over by George T Rawlins.

George Rawlins (b1839), originally from Amesbury, Wiltshire, was listed as a Photographer with his wife Clara and their three young children in the 1871 census. There is no further information on George or Clara either before or after 1871, he is not listed in any trade directories and no examples of his photographic work have yet been discovered.


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Henry Goodfellow 


Henry Goodfellow was an early professional photographer in Yeovil. He is known from an inscription "Henry Goodfellow, Photographer, Yeovil" on a photograph that has been dated to about 1860 of Kingston Turnpike House and Gates (see below). He was born in Wincanton in 1810 the son of Thomas Goodfellow (1782-1838) and Esther née Bond (1786-1838). In the 1841 census Henry, a lifelong bachelor, was listed as an ironmonger in Wincanton but by 1851 he had moved to Bourton, near Gillingham, working as a clerk. He is known to have been in Yeovil working as a photographer around 1860 and placed an advertisement in the Western Gazette regarding his new studios in Kingston, next door to the Red Lion Inn. By 1871 he had moved to Brighton Place, Clevedon, again working as a photographer. In the 1881 census 71-year old Henry was lodging at Solva Place, Clevedon, and gave his profession as 'Master Photographer'.

Henry Goodfellow returned to Wincanton during the 1880s (when the carte de visite by him above left was taken) and he died there in 1890 aged 80.


Kingston Turnpike House and gates photographed about 1860 by Henry Goodfellow. The house was moved a hundred yards further down Kingston in 1875.


This advertisement was placed in the Western Gazette's edition of 29 March 1867.


Henry's advertisement in the Western Gazette's edition of 27 December 1867 in which he describes himself as a 'Portrait and Landscape Photographer'. 


From my collection

An evocative cabinet card by Henry Goodfellow showing a rural haymaking scene, presumably near Wincanton, during the 1890s.


The central scene of the above cabinet card, enlarged.


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Frederick Treble



Frederick Treble was born about 1832 in Paddington, London, the son of artist Benjamin Treble and his wife Eliza. In the 1841 census Benjamin and Eliza, both aged 50, and ten-year old Frederick were living in New North Street, Finsbury. In 1856, in Coventry, Warwickshire, he married widow Elizabeth Wyndham, a 'Professor of Music and Language'; they were to have seven children. In 1857 he was made bankrupt.

He moved briefly to a studio in Catharine Street, Salisbury, in 1858 but by 1859 he was living in Yeovil working as an artist with John Swatridge (see above). In 1861 Frederick and Elizabeth were living in Middle Street, Yeovil, with their first two children and a servant. Frederick gave his occupation as 'Artist in Painting, Practising Photography'. By 1867 he had moved on to Hastings where he bought the studio of Robert Naylor at 21 White Rock Place where he practiced as an 'Artist Photographer'.

By 1881 he had moved again, this time to 28 Camera Square (how apt), Chelsea, London. He then moved to Norwich and by 1911 he had retired.

The photograph above left is believed to be of Frederick Treble, taken at about the time he was in Yeovil. Little of his work is known but his sons, Charles and Edward, both became a well-known photographers in other parts of the country.


Lady Mary Craven photographed in 1858 by Frederick Treble during his very brief sojourn in Salisbury, just before moving to Yeovil.


From my collection

Another carte de visite by Frederick Treble dating to late 1858 or early 1859 from his time in Catherine Street, Salisbury..


Courtesy of Bill & Audrey Robertson

A stereoscopic photograph of Salisbury Cathedral by Frederick Treble, clearly taken during his stay as a photographer in Salisbury.


From my collection

A cabinet card by Frederick Treble from his time post-Yeovil time in Norwich. 


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John Chaffin (& Sons)  


From my collection



John Chaffin was one of the first in Yeovil to become involved in the newly developing technology of photography and in 1862 he established himself as a photographic artist with a studio at 6 Hendford (immediately next door to the Butcher's Arms). He was soon joined by his family and the 1871 census shows that John gave his occupation as a Photographer, as did sons Thomas and John, by now aged 21 and 17 respectively. daughters Kate and Maria, aged 20 and 19, were both listed as Artists and were employed hand-tinting photographs and also producing portraits in oils from photographs. John Chaffin & Sons also opened a branch studio in Taunton. The firm was active until 1919. William Chaffin, photographer of Sherborne, was John Chaffin's cousin.

For John Chaffin & Sons webpage - click here.

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James Francis


There is very little information regarding James Francis and no examples of his photographic work have been found. At the Colmer manslaughter trial in 1863 he gave evidence that he was an assistant photographer at the studio of John Swatridge. He was one of the first Yeovil photographers to be listed in a trade directory when the Post Office Directory listed him as a Photographer of Princes Street in his own right in 1866 although, of course, others had been operating as professional photographers in the town for years. This is the only reference to him in a trade directory. No examples of his photographic work have been found.


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Ebenezer Whitby


Ebenezer Whitby was born in 1815 in Yeovil, the fourth son of Elias Whitby Snr and his wife Hannah née Hooper and he was the younger brother of Elias Whitby Jnr. In 1847 Whitby was in partnership with Benjamin Trenchard and the firm of Trenchard & Whitby traded as 'Stationers, Booksellers and Printers' at 8 Princes Street where Trenchard and his wife lived above the shop premises with an apprentice, William Guppy, and a house servant. The partnership was dissolved by mutual consent in May 1854 after which Ebenezer traded on his own account. Ebenezer Whitby died in the summer of 1889 but his business was carried on as Whitby & Sons by his sons John and Frederick well into the twentieth century.

In truth it is not known if Ebenezer Whitby was the photographer who took the photograph for the carte de visite below, or just the publisher. Certainly E Whitby & Sons, presumably one or other of the sons, was a photographer for Frith's who published postcards and several Frith postcards in my collection are attributed to E Whitby & Sons.

For Ebenezer Whitby's webpage - click here


This is the front and back of a carte de visite produced by Ebenezer Whitby, of the cottage at Ninesprings and is probably the earliest of any images of Ninesprings. The writing on the back says "EB from GSS in remembrance of a walk to Nine Springs. Oct 7th 1876". However the fact that it has square corners almost certainly dates the CDV to the 1860s (rounded corners were introduced during 1872 to 1879 to slip into newly-introduced slotted album pages). Much smaller than later cabinet cards, this CDV is 2½" x 4" (65mm x 100mm).


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Adam Gosney


From my collection



Adam Gosney was born in 1844 and in the 1861 census was working as a servant at King's School. He established himself as a photographer next door to the Plume of Feathers in Half Moon Street, Sherborne, Dorset in 1866, and opened a studio in Yeovil in May 1879. In 1880 Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser listed him as a Photographer with studios at 39 Middle Street. The listing was repeated in Whitby's edition of 1889 but he was not listed in trade directories thereafter although he clearly maintained a Yeovil studio into the 1890s (his Middle Street studio was most likely taken over by FG Christopher around 1895). He opened temporary studios several times; Gillingham (1881), Mere (1881), Ilchester (1882) etc. By the 1890s he had permanent studios in Sherborne, Yeovil, Crewkerne and Gillingham. In the 1911 census, at the age of 66, he gave his occupation as 'Photographer and Frame Maker. Gosney died at Half Moon Street, Sherborne, on 11 October 1921.


A notice placed in the 23 May 1879 edition of the Western Gazette informing the public of Adam Gosney's new studio opening in Yeovil.


Adam Gosney's advertisement in Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser of 1880. The price of cartes de visite at six shillings per dozen equates to about £27 at today's value.


.... and his advertisement in the 1882 edition of Whitby's. The prices of 10s 6d to £5 5s 0d at today's value equate to about £45 and £475.


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Henry Stiby


While not a professional photographer as such, future Mayor of Yeovil Henry Stiby is included here simply because he was one of the most prolific of Yeovil amateur photographers and left a fine record of Yeovil and its surroundings from the 1880's onwards.

For Henry Stiby's webpage - click here


Henry Stiby, the photographer, on location with his camera and tripod at Thorne Coffin church during the late 1880's.


Another Stiby photograph showing Henry Stiby (back row, third from right) with friends, seated outside Christ Church c1885.


Courtesy of Jack Sweet

Cartes de visite by Henry Stiby, that to the left dated August 1898 and that to the right dated July 1904 - both are signed "H. Stiby" on the backs but carry no other mark and are thought not to be commercial portraits. Jack Sweet has pointed out to me that many of Henry Stiby's carte de visite and other portraits are of young girls and are possibly part of this lifelong bachelor photographer's personal "Gentleman's collection".


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T Clarke


Again, very little little is known of T Clarke (since the name is so common) it is known, however, that he had a photographic studio in Middle Street during the 1870s. There are no listings for him in any trade directories and his Yeovil photographic venture was probably very short-lived. I've found no examples of his photographic work.


Advertisement in several editions of the Western Gazette's during late 1874.


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Lewis Lee


Almost nothing is known of Lewis Lee except that for a year or two he had a photographic studio at 25 Earle Street. There was only one trade directory listing and that was in the 1895 edition of Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser - for Mrs Lewis Lee. Lewis Lee, was secretary of the Liberal Unionist and Conservative Association in Yeovil in 1894 and was engaged as a Liberal Unionist agent for the district in April 1895. The Lees left Yeovil in 1896.


Courtesy of Bill & Audrey Robertson

A cabinet card by Lewis Lee of four Yeovil girls; Louie Gawler, Evelyn Williams, Nina Mitchell and Florrie Mitchell - photographed in the mid-1890s.


Lewis Lee's logo on the back of the above cabinet card.


Advertisement in the Western Gazette's edition of 11 September 1896 selling up Lee's photographic studio and equipment..


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William Sherrell


From my collection



William Sherrell was born in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire, in 1837. In 1871 he gave his occupation as an Artist but he is known to also have been a photographer with a studio at 107 Newhall Street, Birmingham. It is not known when he moved to Yeovil, but was certainly here by 1891. In the 1891 census William was living at 'Hill View' Sherborne Road and gave his occupation as 'Artist & Photographer'. William was listed as an 'Artist & Photographer of 55 Middle Street' in Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser of 1895 but as just a Photographer of 165 Sherborne Road (presumably his home address, not his photographic studio) in Whitby's edition of 1898. His final trade listing was in Whitby's edition of 1903 in which he was listed as a 'Photographer of 58 (sic) Middle Street'. William had retired and Grace Cumming had taken over his studio by 1907.

For William Sherrell's webpage - click here.


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Grace Cumming



Grace Cumming was born in 1863 in Battersea, London. In the 1881 census she was lodging in Southampton and gave her occupation as a Photographer. In the 1891 census both she and her sister Kate were listed as Photographer's Assistants in Bournemouth. By 1901 she was a Photographer's Manageress in Sandown, Isle of Wight. By 1907 she had moved to Yeovil and was listed as a Photographer in Collins' Yeovil Directory.

The portrait above left was taken by Grace Cumming around 1910 and the sitter was Ellen Jane Pike of Yeovil (1894-1973), known as Nellie. She married Albert McMillan (1894-1968) in 1918 and her engagement photograph with Albert, by Rendell, is shown below - click here.

Grace died in Reading in 1913, age 50.      For Grace Cumming's page click here


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William Palfery


William Palfery was born in 1829 at Clayhidon, Devon. In the 1861 census he was living at 188 High Street, Exeter, Devon, with his wife Helen and their four children. William gave his occupation as 'Artist & Tobacconist'. The family were still in Exeter in 1867 when their youngest daughter, 8-year old Louisa, died. In the 1871 census he was listed on his own, lodging at the Green Dragon Inn at Combe St Nicholas and gave his occupation as a Photographer and was, presumably, on a photographic sojourn while Helen and the children were still in Exeter. It is thought that William established his Yeovil photographic studio in Court Ash during the 1870s but by 1881 he was living with Helen and son William in North Street, Wellington. He listed his occupation as 'Photographer & Bird Stuffer'. Helen died in Wellington in 1893 and William was still living in North Street in 1901 as a 73-year old widower, describing himself as a 'Photographer & Naturalist'.


From my collection

An early carte de visite, dating to the 1860s, by William Palfery during his time in Exeter.


Courtesy of Bill & Audrey Robertson

A carte de visite by W Palfrey of Court Ash.


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John Bell


From my collection


John Bell was born in 1845 at Silton, Dorset (just north of Gillingham), and was a carpenter and millwright by trade. By 1881 he was living in Frome and was a professional photographer with an apprentice and was still in Frome at the time of the 1891 census.

By 1896 John was living in Yeovil and was listed in the Western Gazette Almanac of that year as an 'Art photographer of Hendford'. His studio was at Fern Bank Villa in Hendford (adjoining the Masonic Hall) but he clearly didn't stay in Yeovil very long since Jarratt Beckett (see below) took over his studio almost immediately. By 1911 John was retired and living in Burnham on Sea where he died in 1914.

John Bell is also known to have had studios at Bath and at Barry Dock, running both studios concurrently with the Frome studio and most likely in the 1900s.


From my collection

A carte de visite by John Bell taken during the 1880s at his time in Frome before moving to Fern Bank Villa in Hendford.


John Bell's advertisement in the Western Gazette Almanac of 1896.


Courtesy of Jack Sweet

Station Road and Yeovil Town Station photographed in 1896 by John Bell. The terrace of buildings at left, still there today, is South Western Terrace built by Levi Ridout.


From my collection

The artistic back of a cabinet card by John Bell, giving both his Bath and Yeovil studio addresses. The design is typical of the early 1890s and was, perhaps, a little old-fashioned by the time this cabinet card was produced. The strip at right is where the protective tissue paper cover was attached.



Two later cartes de visite by John Bell, most likely early 1900s, when he had additional studios at Barry Dock and at Bath.


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Jarratt Beckett


From my collection


Jarratt Rudston Beckett was born in 1839 in Yorkshire and spent most of his life there as a 'Printer, Stationer & Publisher'. He was declared bankrupt in 1879 and moved around a bit thereafter and around 1896 moved to Yeovil taking over the photographic studio of J Bell at Fern Bank Villa in Hendford and immediately styled himself as a 'Photographic Artist'. His final listing in a Yeovil trade directory was simply as a 'Photographer of Hendford' in Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser of 1903. What happened to him after 1903 is something of a mystery but it is known that Jarratt died in Birmingham in 1922 aged 83.

For Jarratt Beckett's webpage - click here.

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Frederick G Christopher


From my collection



Frederick George Christopher was born in 1851 at Upwey, Dorset, Much of his early life was spent on the railways and in the 1881 census he was listed as a Railway Guard living with his family in Bedminster, Bristol. He became a professional photographer around this time and had a photographic studio at 131 Victoria Street, Bristol, certainly between 1885 and 1887 (the carte de visite at left dates from this period). By 1891 he was lodging in Crewkerne (without his family) but established his studio there during the following decade in Abbey Street. Probably in the early 1890s, but certainly by 1898 he had established a studio at 38a Middle Street, Yeovil, (most likely the former studio of Adam Gosney) and was listed in Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser from that year until 1903. Collins' Yeovil Directory listed him in 1907 and the Post Office Directory of 1919 was his final trade listing. Frederick Christopher died in Crewkerne on 22 February 1925. His son, Frederick James, also became a photographer.


From my collection

A cabinet card by Frederick Christopher ‘of Crewkerne & Yeovil’. The registered back of the card dates to the early 1890s by CE&G and this date is reinforced by the nascent ‘leg of mutton’ sleeves of the sitter which are typical of this period.


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William Ross


William Alexander Mitchelson Ross was born in 1883 at St Denys, Hampshire, the son of artist Alexander Mitchelson Ross (1816-1907) and Maria née Biddlecombe (b 1861 - 45 years his junior!!). In the 1891 census the family were listed at 21 Dover Street, Southampton.

In the summer of 1908 William married Rose Wilhelmina Langdon in Yeovil and by the 1911 census William and Rose, together with their two-year old son Harold, were living at 82 Earle Street, with another family. William gave his occupation as a Photographer and Rose gave hers as a Gloving Machinist.

William died in Salisbury, Wiltshire, in 1957.


From my collection

Photographed by William Ross and produced as a postcard, it is dated 23 February 1906 - the date the building that had housed the King's Arms was completely destroyed by fire although it hadn't of course, been a beerhouse for several decades. The firemen in the first floor window and the crowd at ground level are facing the photographer who was standing in South Street. The man with the bowler hat is standing at the entrance to the Hall Keeper's house next to the Cheese Market. The fire, apparently, was started by an unattended candle in a rear store-room of Thomas Clement's shop in High Street, that backed on to the cottages.


From my collection

.... and also produced as a postcard in vertical format.


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Samson Dade


Samson Dade was born in Yeovil in 1866, the son of John Dade (1816-1897) and Mary Ann née Bartlett (1831-1908).

Although he was never listed in any trade directory as a professional photographer, from the examples below, it is clear that Samson was a photographer as a sideline and had likely set up part of his father's Coffee Tavern in Wine Street as a photographic studio as noted by the address on the examples, or at least traded as a photographer from the premises. He was clearly operating during the 1890s and into the 1900s. He is known to have been a 'magic lantern' operator in the 1890s at various events and entertainments.

For Samson Dade's web page - click here


Courtesy of Patricia Smith

A photograph, probably taken in the early 1890s of Samuel Tucker, daughter Mary at centre and his wife Ann on the doorstep outside their Park Street home,


Samuel Tucker photographed in 1901 when he was aged 90. Samuel was a member of the temperance movement known as the International Organisation of Good Templars (IOGT). The IOGT originated as one of a number of fraternal organizations for temperance or total abstinence founded in the nineteenth century and with a structure modeled on Freemasonry, using similar ritual and regalia. 


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Francis H Crocker


Courtesy of Bill & Audrey Robertson


Francis Hubert Crocker was born in Yeovil in 1882 the son of corn merchant William Henry Down Crocker (1830-1886) and Cleopatra Malvina Robina née Colmer (1846-1920) daughter of Robert and Jane Colmer, the infamous Yeovil murderers. In the 1891 census 9-year old Francis was living with his widowed mother in Peter Street. Cleopatra remarried and in 1901 Francis was living with her and her new husband, Thomas Thorne, in the Victoria Inn in Huish and Francis, now aged 19, worked as a butter factor's clerk. By 1911 he was a carpenter and joiner. Francis was listed in Kelly's Directory of 1914 as a Photographer of 7 Peter Street - his only listing - but in November 1914 he enlisted and served throughout the Great War in the Royal Field Artillery and then the Labour Corps. Francis Crocker died on 11 October 1921 in Birmingham, age 39.


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Witcomb & Son


Charles John Witcomb and his son Sidney George were professional photographers of Salisbury, Wiltshire with their two main studios at 10 Catherine Street, Salisbury, and 9 Triangle, Bournemouth, throughout the 1870s and into the twentieth century. As early as 1861 Charles was listed in the census as a 'Tobacconist, Stationer & Photographer' of Milford Street, Salisbury, and by 1871 described himself simply 'Photographer'. By 1881 Charles and his family were living at 10 Catherine Street, which was to become his main studio. Charles gave his occupation as 'Photographic Artist' while his son Sidney George was a Watchmaker's Apprentice. Charles and Sidney were in partnership with Harry Alfred Meill as photographers at Town Hall Avenue, Bournemouth, Hampshire. The partnership was dissolved by mutual agreement in December 1890 and by 1903 Witcomb & Son were established in Middle Street, Yeovil, The Yeovil studio was run by Sidney.

Sidney was a Freemason and was initiated into Yeovil's Lodge of Brotherly Love on 27 January 1904. He served as Worshipful Master of the Lodge in 1915.

Witcomb & Son were first listed in Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser in 1903 and they placed an advertisement in the same edition, shown below, stating 'Under Royal Patronage'. In the 1911 census Sidney was listed as a Photographer with his wife Melina 'assisting in the business' and their twin 22-year old daughters Edith and Ethel working as Photographer's Assistants. Witcomb & Sons appeared regularly in Yeovil trade directories until their listing in the Post Office Directory of 1935. Sidney died in Yeovil in 1947 aged 87.


A photograph of a Yeovil family (any ideas?) by Witcomb & Son, Yeovil, dating to about 1905.


Witcomb & Son's advertisement in the 1903 edition of Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser.


From my collection

A photograph by Witcomb & Son of the Yeovil Boy's Brigade parading along Middle Street, outside the Coronation Hotel and Vaults, around 1910. In fact Witcomb's studio is in this photograph - at centre, and enlarged below.


From my collection

An enlargement of the previous photograph showing Witcomb & Son's studio, at 31a Middle Street, with a display of their photographic work.


From my collection

A cabinet card with a highly embossed oval portrait framing, silver lettering on a dark grey cardstock with a plain back from around 1910. Note the "Under Royal Patronage" over the fleur-de-lys logo. By this time cabinet cards were going out of fashion and were being popularly replaced by the much cheaper postcard format.


This photograph, reproduced as a postcard, is by Witcomb & Son and shows the fire damage to the Aplin & Barrett factory. Photographed on 11 August 1912.


Courtesy of Dinah Cheek

A photograph by Witcomb & Son depicting men of the South Western Brigade Battalion, Territorial Force, photographed on 29 April 1915 on the forecourt of Pen Mill Station. This unit was raised in Yeovil from home service personnel, older or medically unfit men, classed as 'Category B'. In 1917 they became part of the 11th Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry, and saw action by August 1918 - fighting with such spirit that the Corps Commander ordered the 'B' category to be dropped.


From my collection

A Corporal of the Royal Engineers, home on leave in Yeovil, called in to Witcomb & Son's studio in Middle Street to have his photograph taken. By this time cartes de visite and cabinet cards had fallen into disuse and most portraits were produced as postcards, as here, which could be sent to friends and relatives.



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HS McNair


I have only come across one reference to HS McNair which was in Collins' Yeovil Directory of 1907 noting in the Street List "HS McNair, 7 Court Ash, Photographic Artist". Other than this I have found no trace of him in any records and no examples of his photographic work.


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Walter S Rendell


Walter Samuel Rendell was born in 1874 at Melcombe Regis, Weymouth, Dorset. Initially apprenticed to his brother as a draper, by 1911 he was working as a Photographer's Assistant at Weymouth. Walter moved his family to Yeovil and set up his own photographic studio in 1913 at 55 Middle Street and was listed as a photographer in many trade directories from 1914 onwards, initially trading as WS Rendell and later as WS Rendell & Son as his son William Ernest joined his father in the business.

Walter Rendell died at home, at 24 Beaconsfield Avenue, Yeovil, on 31 July 1949. William carried on the Yeovil photography business until (I think) the 1980s.


For Walter and William's webpage - click here.


A photograph by Walter Rendell taken in his Yeovil studio, probably around 1914.

This is the engagement studio photograph, taken in Walter Rendell's studio, of Nellie Pike (see Grace Cumming above) and her fiancé Albert McMillan.


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Harold C Tilzey


Harold Charles Tilzey was born on 4 April 1911 at Barnstaple, Devon, son of Sidney Tilzey (1872-1942) and Hebe Florence née  Knight (1882-1950). In 1938 he married Elizabeth Squire at Barnstaple and around 1939 he set up his own photographic studio in Princes Street, Yeovil. The studio was destroyed by fire in June 1948 but later refurbished.

 Harold died in Yeovil in 1975, age 64. Harold's son, Bryan, continued the business. The following is taken from the Programme of the Yeovil Centenary Trades Fair in 1954 -

"For the past 15 years Harold C Tilzey has offered a personal service in photography at his well-equipped premises in Princes Street, here your requirements meet speedy and efficient attention. A list of work undertaken reads like a catalogue, including the photographs of Buildings, Factories, Homes, Schools, both inside and out, Machinery, Vehicles, Equipment and Finished Parts, in fact everything that the manufacturer, builder, architect, advertiser and shopkeeper might require. Portrait photography is catered for, very special attention being given to children. The work can be done at the studio or at home. Another speciality is photographs of animals and pets of all descriptions. The pictorial recording of weddings is a service much appreciated.

Direct colour is the latest innovation in photography, all the latest developments are given due consideration and this work can now be carried out on the premises, although, at the moment, hand colouring by skilled artists is more suitable for many purposes.

Finally, a complete service is available for the amateur photographer, films are developed and printed on the premises. A large stock of material and equipment is maintained and expert advice is always available."


One of Harold Tilzey's first commissions - the wedding of Ronald Richards of Barnstaple and Elizabeth Ricketts, youngest daughter of William Ricketts of WJ & EG Ricketts Ltd of Yeovil. Published in the North Devon Journal of 8 June 1939.


A typical wedding photograph by Harold Tilzey, this example is dated 1950.


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