Family photographs from WW1:
A Rural Scene, c.1915-18
A contact and I have been working on this rural Wiltshire scene in connection with a Great War memorial project. The photograph is undated, like so many old photographic images, and I have been ‘reading’ the picture clues to determine an accurate time frame. The evidence of fashion is always reliable and here the young woman standing in front of the fence wears a tailored suit datable from its length and cut to c.1915-18. It follows the general style of many WW1-era female uniforms and in fact the contrasting collar and cuffs of her jacket could possibly signify some kind of uniform. Might she be a visitor to the cottages – a messenger or despatch rider or similar…? Perhaps she has just dismounted from the motorbike to the left of the picture.
Although there are several women and children in the photograph, the absence of adult males is striking – another detail that supports the probability of a First World War date. Two or three households occupied these semi-detached thatched cottages, one family with 13 children residing there from 1908 until 1975, when the final family member moved out. For some years three brothers were the last remaining residents: one had lost his leg in the Great War and had a peg-leg; he cooked for the other two, who worked as foresters and gardeners on a nearby estate. Tragically, another brother had been killed at Gallipoli in 1915 – perhaps in the same year or shortly before this picturesque photograph was taken.