Eastbourne - Churchill

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Professional Photographers in Eastbourne ( Churchill )

 George Churchill - Harry H. Churchill

 

George Churchill (1837-1907)

George Churchill was born in Glympton, Oxfordshire, on 5th March 1837. Although his surname and place of birth suggests that he might have come from a distinguished family (one local historian has tried to establish if George was related to Winston Churchill ), George Churchill appears to have come from a fairly humble background. One family history researcher believes that George Churchill was the illegitimate son of Ann Churchill (born 1810, Glympton, Oxon.), a glove maker of Wootton. Ann Churchill was born on 8th July 1810, the second of nine children born to Mary and Richard Churchill of Glympton. However, there is some evidence that George's mother was Ann Churchill's younger sister Maria Churchill (born 1817, Glympton).
 

[ABOVE] A photograph  the Oxfordshire village of Glympton,  where George Churchill was born in 1837.

Glympton is a small Oxfordshire village situated on the River Glyme about 4 miles N.W. of Woodstock and the same distance from Blenheim Park and Blenheim Palace, the country seat of the Duke of Marlborough and the Spencer-Churchill family.

Glympton is in an agricultural area and in the 19th century many of its inhabitants were employed in the surrounding farms. However, glove-making had been an important domestic industry in the region since the 13th century and George's mother and her sisters made their living by making leather gloves. As a teenager George Churchill worked as an agricultural labourer.

The small Oxfordshire village of Glympton is located about 4 miles N.W. of Woodstock and in 1841 it had a population of just "119 souls". When the census was taken in Glympton on 7th June 1841, four year old George Churchill is listed with Maria Churchill, a young unmarried woman. Maria Churchill would have been twenty-four years of age at the time of the census, but, under the requirements of the 1841 census, the enumerator has rounded her age down to the nearest five year band and so her age is written down as "20". The 1841 census did not give details of family relationships and so it is not clear from the census return whether the young woman was George's mother or his young aunt. Living alongside Maria Churchill and young George was Mrs Elizabeth Wiggins, another Churchill sister. Elizabeth Churchill (born 1815, Glympton) had married Thomas Wiggins in 1836.

In November 1843, Maria Churchill gave birth to an illegitimate child named Frederick Churchill. Twenty months later, on 3rd July 1845, Maria Churchill married Frederick's father, Mark Shaylor (Shayler), then employed as a gamekeeper in nearby Kiddington. After Maria's marriage, her son Frederick adopted his father's surname and was known as Frederick Shaylor. By the time the 1851 census was taken, Maria had given birth to four more children, including a daughter named Eleanor Jane Shaylor (born 1849, Kiddington). In adult life, Eleanor Shaylor lived with George Churchill and assisted him in his photography business. On the 1881 and 1891 census returns, Eleanor Shaylor is entered as George Churchill's sister and on the 1901 census form, Eleanor is described as George Churchill's "half sister", which suggests that they shared a mother - Maria Churchill (later Mrs Maria Shaylor).

After Maria Churchill marrried Mark Shaylor aka Shayler (born c1816, Leafield, Oxon.), she settled in the nearby village of Kiddington, where her husband worked as a gamekeeper. George Churchill remained in Glympton and by the time the 1851 census was taken, he was living next door to Glympton's Swan Inn with his aunt and uncle, James and Mary Smith. Maria's younger sister, Mary Churchill (born 1818, Glympton) had married James Smith (c1816, Glympton), a gardener, in 1839. At the time of the 1851 census, fourteen year old George Churchill was working as an agricultural labourer.

George Churchill  leaves Oxfordshire

As a young man, George Churchill entered domestic service and left his home village of Glympton. By the time the 1861 census was taken, George Churchill, then aged twenty-four, was working as a Footman in Brighton, Sussex, at 1 Pavilion Parade, the home of solicitor George Philcox Hill (born 1803,Lewes). Lodging a short distance away in Brighton's Edward Street, was a twenty year old dressmaker named Matilda Skeggs (born 1840, Chigwell, Essex). Matilda, who had been baptised in Chigwell, Essex, on 8th November 1840, was the daughter of William and Maria Skeggs. A relationship developed between the young footman and Matilda and in 1865 the couple were married.

The wedding of George Churchill and Matilda Skeggs took place in the Devonshire seaside resort of Tormoham (Torquay) on 17th June 1865. At the time of their marriage, George was 28 and Matilda was 24. No surviving children are recorded from this union, but the marriage was to last for 42 years.

Five years after his marriage to Matilda, George Churchill established a photographic portrait studio in the Sussex seaside town of Eastbourne. Presumably, George Churchill worked as a photographer between 1865 and 1870, possibly working as an assistant in a photographic studio or as an itinerant photographer, travelling with his camera from one seaside town to another.

[ABOVE] Part of a 19th century map of Oxfordshire showing the location of George Churchill's home village of Glympton ( marked with a red dot ), four miles north-west of Woodstock. It appears that George's mother and half siblings settled in nearby Kiddington, but George Churchill remained in Glympton where he found work as an agricultural labourer. When George Churchill retired from his photography business around 1899, he made his home in Wootton, a village south-east of Glympton. The fact that the great mansion at Blenheim Park was built for John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, has led to speculation that George Churchill was related to the historically famous Churchill family, but their is no foundation to this theory. John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, originated from Devon. Churchill is also the name of an Oxfordshire village and Churchill is a common surname in Oxfordshire.

[ABOVE] A Victorian map showing proposed parliamentary boundaries in Oxfordshire.    George Churchill's home village of  Glympton ( marked with a red dot ) was in the district of Wootton South, north-west of the City of Oxford ( shaded grey ).

 
George Churchill opens a Photographic Portrait Studio in Eastbourne

[ABOVE] An advertisement announcing the opening of George Churchill's photographic studio at No. 4 Cornfield Road, Eastbourne, which appeared in The Eastbourne Gazette on Wednesday, 4th May, 1870.

[ABOVE] An advertisement for George Churchill's photographic portrait studio at No. 4 Cornfield Road, Eastbourne, which appeared in The Eastbourne Gazette on 15th June 1870. This advertisement gives information about Churchill's scale of charges. A dozen carte-de-visite portraits cost 8s 6d and a set of six cdvs cost 5 shillings. A customer could purchase sixteen cabinet portraits for one guinea (1. 1s. 0d.). Churchill's prices were higher than those charged by William Hicks & Co. of Seaside Road, but not as expensive as the high class studio of G. & R. Lavis at 71 Terminus Road, Eastbourne.

George Churchill's Photographic Portrait Studio at 4 Cornfield Road, Eastbourne
A photographic portrait studio was established at 4 Cornfield Road, Eastbourne in 1864 by the photographer William Hicks. The studio was vacated by Hicks after he set up a new studio at 5 Albert Place in Seaside Road in 1866. The photographic studio appears to have been empty for a couple of years before it was purchased by George Churchill in the Spring of 1870.

Early in May 1870, George Churchill, who described himself as a "Photographer and Miniature Painter", publicized the opening of his portrait studio at 4 Cornfield Road, Eastbourne. An advertisement which appeared in The Eastbourne Gazette on Wednesday, 4th May, 1870 announced that George Churchill's studio at No. 4 Cornfield Road, Eastbourne, had "Just Opened! " and that he was now available to take photographic portraits and "All kinds of out-door Photography", including pictures of "Dogs, Horses, &c.". Another advertisement for Churchill's photographic portrait studio in Cornfield Road, which was published in The Eastbourne Gazette on 15th June 1870 gave information about Churchill's scale of charges. Carte-de-visite portraits  - small photographs measuring roughly 21/2 inches by 41/4 inches (6.3 cm by 10.5 cm ) -  cost 8s 6d per dozen. A set of six carte-de-visite portraits cost 5 shillings. Churchill also provided the larger cabinet portrait - a photographic print mounted on a sturdy card measuring 41/4 inches by 61/2 inches. (roughly 11cm x 17cm). Sixteen cabinet portraits could be purchased for one guinea (1. 1s. 0d.) at Churchill's studio.

In 1870, there were only three other photographic portrait studios in Eastbourne - William Hicks & Co. at 18 Seaside Road, the firm of G. & R. Lavis at 71 Terminus Road, and the photographic studio operated by Thomas Stafford Gowland, which was based in The Library at 16 Marine Parade. The prices charged by George Churchill were higher than those offered by William Hicks & Co. of Seaside Road, but not as expensive as the high class establishment of G. & R. Lavis in Terminus Road.

George Churchill remained in business as a photographer at 4 Cornfield Road, Eastbourne for nearly thirty years.

 

[ABOVE] The reverse of a carte-de-visite portrait showing the trade plate design used by George Churchill when he first opened his portrait studio at 4 Cornfield Road, Eastbourne in 1870. In his early publicity, George Churchill described himself as a "Miniature Painter" and "Photographer"

[ABOVE] A carte-de-visite portrait of an elderly woman seated at a table, photographed by George Churchill of 4 Cornfield Road, Eastbourne (c1870). A dozen carte-de-visite portraits could be purchased for 8s 6d at Churchill's studio.

George Churchill - Miniature Portrait Painter

When George Churchill arrived in Eastbourne in 1870, he advertised himself as a "Photographer and Miniature Painter".

The small carte-de-visite portraits were hand-coloured in crayon or watercolours  to produce pictures that resembled the traditional portrait miniature of a previous age.

[ABOVE] A vignette portrait of an unknown woman, photographed by George Churchill of 4 Cornfield Road, Eastbourne (c1872). [ABOVE] A hand-coloured carte-de-visite portrait of an unknown woman, produced in the studio of George Churchill at 4 Cornfield Road, Eastbourne (c1880).
George and Matilda Churchill in Eastbourne - Part One (1870-1881)
 When the census of Eastbourne was taken on 2nd April 1871, George Churchill was residing with his wife Matilda in the living quarters attached to his business premises at 4 Cornfield Road. George Churchill is described on the census return as a "Photographer - Master", which implies he was employing an assistant or a photographer's apprentice. George Churchill's photography business was doing reasonably well, to the extent that he could afford to employ the services of a fourteen year old girl named Naomi Fox (born 1857, Arlington, Sussex) as a "General Servant".

By the time the 1881 census was taken, George Churchill and his wife had been joined at 4 Cornfield Road by two female relatives - Ellen Shaylor and Emily Shoosmith. Eleanor Jane Shaylor (Shayler), the daughter of Mark Shaylor and Maria Churchill, was referred to by George Churchill as his "sister" or "half sister". Eleanor Jane Shaylor (Shayler) had been born in Kiddington, Oxfordshire in 1849, the fourth child born from the union between Maria Churchill and Mark Shaylor (Shayler). Eleanor's mother, Mrs Maria Shaylor (Shayler) had died in Wootton, Oxfordshire, in 1874, at the age of 56. Eleanor's father, Mark Shaylor, a sixty-four year old widower, was now working as a farm labourer and living in a cottage in Glympton Road, Wootton, together with an unmarried daughter Sarah Shaylor (born 1850, Kiddington, Oxon), who served as his housekeeper, and his twenty-three year old son Henry Shaylor (born 1858, Kiddington, Oxon.). George Churchill had agreed to take on his half-sister Eleanor Shaylor as an assistant in his photography business. Eleanor, generally known as 'Ellen' in the family, is recorded on the census return as thirty-year old "Assistant (Photographer)" and her relationship to George Churchill, the "Head of the Family", is given as "Sister". Also living at 4 Cornfield Road was George Churchill's niece, nine year old Emily Georgina Shoosmith. Emily had been born in Brighton in 1872. George and Matilda Churchill had no children of their own and Emily Shoosmith became their surrogate daughter. Emily Shoosmith and Eleanor Shaylor were still living with George Churchill when the 1901 census was taken twenty years later.

In 1878, George Churchill had the good fortune to photograph Princess Alice (1843-1878), the second eldest daughter of Queen Victoria, during her recuperative holiday in Eastbourne. [ See the panel headed George Churchill - Royal Photographer, below]. Princess Alice had married a member of the German royal family, Prince Louis of Hesse (1837-1892) and had recently become the Grand Duchess of Hesse. Princess Alice lived in the German city of Darmstadt and so the visit to Eastbourne with her family provided a rare opportunity to photograph Princess Alice and her children in England. George Churchill supplied copies of the photographs he had taken of Princess Alice and her family to Queen Victoria at the end of 1878 and, from that date, he began to use the title of "Photographer to the Queen". This association with the Royal Family boosted his reputation and led to further sittings with members of the Prussian Royal family. By 1880, George Churchill's photographs, publicity and advertisements carried the Royal Coat of Arms and the impressive by-line "G. Churchill -Photographer to Her Majesty the Queen & most of the Imperial & Royal families of Europe". Churchill's photography business flourished in the 1880s and by 1885 he was able to move out of his studio living quarters and take a house in Moat Croft Road in the Old Town area of Eastbourne.

[ABOVE] A  portrait of an unknown girl holding a basket of flowers, photographed by George Churchill of 4 Cornfield Road, Eastbourne (c1875). The photographer George Churchill and his wife had no children of their own, but, for twenty years or more, they were the surrogate parents of their niece Emily Georgina Shoosmith (born 1872, Brighton). Emily Shoosmith became a Music Teacher in adult life and in 1911, at the age of  forty, she was still residing with Mrs Matilda Churchill, George Churchill's widow..

 

Carte-de-visite Portraits by George Churchill of Eastbourne

[ABOVE] A carte-de-visite portrait of a young woman seated at a table, photographed by George Churchill of 4 Cornfield Road, Eastbourne (c1875). [ABOVE] An oval portrait of a woman wearing a lace collar, a carte-de-visite produced by George Churchill of 4 Cornfield Road, Eastbourne (c1882).Card mount printed by Trapp & Munch of Berlin. [ABOVE] A vignette portrait of "Mr Stuckey, bank manager", photographed by George Churchill of 4 Cornfield Road, Eastbourne (1880). Card mount printed by Marion & Co. of Paris. [ABOVE] A carte-de-visite portrait of a young woman wearing a fancy hat, photographed by George Churchill of 4 Cornfield Road, Eastbourne (c1888).Card mount printed by Trapp & Munch of Berlin.
 

Portraits of Members of the Boys / Ellman Family, photographed George Churchill

[ABOVE] A carte-de-visite portrait of Robert Boys, a farmer of Eastbourne, photographed by George Churchill of 4 Cornfield Road, Eastbourne (c1870). Robert Boys (c1791-1872) was the tenant farmer of Gildridge Farm, near Eastbourne, during the 1860s. [ABOVE] A carte-de-visite portrait of Mrs Mary Elizabeth Fuller, formerly Miss Mary Elizabeth Boys (born 1846, Eastbourne) photographed by George Churchill of 4 Cornfield Road, Eastbourne (c1872). Mary Elizabeth Boys was the daughter Robert Boys of Eastbourne. (see left). In 1867, Miss Mary Elizabeth Boys married accountant Thomas Fuller (born 1842, London).

[ABOVE] A carte-de-visite portrait of  Ernest Ellman (1854-1929), photographed by George Churchill of 4 Cornfield Road, Eastbourne (c1870). Ernest Ellman, who was born in Margate, Kent, was the eldest son of Georgina Frances Plummer and Reverend Edward Boys Ellman, the Rector of Berwick (see right). In later life, Ernest Ellman became a Church of England clergyman.

[ABOVE] A carte-de-visite portrait of Reverend Edward Boys Ellman (1815-1906), the Rector of Berwick, photographed by George Churchill of 4 Cornfield Road, Eastbourne (c1870). Edward Boys Ellman was born in 1815 at West Firle, Sussex, the son of John Ellman and Catherine Springett Boys.

 
George Churchill - "Photographer to Her Majesty the Queen & Most of the Imperial and Royal Families of Europe"

[ABOVE] A portrait of Princess Alice, the Grand Duchess of Hesse (1843-1878), the third child and second daughter of Queen Victoria. In 1862, Princess Alice married Prince Louis of Hesse, who later became Ludwig IV, the Grand Duke of Hesse. It was after George Churchill took a a series of photographs of the the Grand Duchess and her family during her stay in Eastbourne in the Summer of 1878 that he started to claim he was "Photographer to the Royal Family".

[ABOVE] The trade plate of George Churchill of 4 Cornfield Road, Eastbourne, declaring that he was "Photographer to Her Majesty the Queen & most of the Imperial & Royal families of Europe. (c1880). George Churchill began to feature the Royal Coat of Arms emblem on his photographs from around 1879. Churchill was one of many British commercial photographers who used the Royal Arms without the grant of a Royal Warrant. It was not until 1884 that a photographic firm (A. & G. Taylor) was prosecuted for using the Royal Arms without authority.

[ABOVE] A group portrait of the Grand Duke and Duchess of Hesse with six of their children, photographed around 1876. Ludwig IV, the Grand Duke, holds in his arms their youngest child Marie (born 1874). Princess Alice, the Grand Duchess, stands between Princess Alix (born 1872) and her eldest daughter Princess Victoria (born 1863). Princess Elizabeth (born 1864) stands on the left holding on to her father's arm. Kneeling in front of the Grand Duchess is Princess Irene (born 1866). Prince Ernst Ludwig (born 1868), the sole surviving son, sits on the stool at the front. Another son, Prince Friedrich, who suffered from haemophilia, died in 1873 at the age of two.

[ABOVE] The publicity on the reverse of a carte-de-visite photograph produced by George Churchill of  Eastbourne around 1878 which states that Churchill was "Photographer to the Royal Family". Shortly afterwards, George Churchill started to issue photographs which carried the Royal Coat of Arms.

[ABOVE] A portrait of Princess Marie of Hesse (1874-1878), the youngest child of the Grand Duke and Duchess of Hesse, who died of diphtheria in November 1878 after spending a summer holiday in Eastbourne.

[ABOVE] The publicity on the reverse of a carte-de-visite photograph produced by George Churchill of  Eastbourne around 1879 which displays the Royal Coat of Arms and states that Churchill was "Photographer to the Royal Family" .By 1880, Churchill's publicity was declaring that he was "Photographer to Her Majesty the Queen & most of the Imperial & Royal families of Europe".  

George Churchill - "Royal Photographer"

From around 1878, George Churchill advertised himself as a "Photographer to the Royal Family". In fact, George Churchill was not an official "Royal Photographer" and was never granted a Royal Warrant, which would have conferred the right to claim royal patronage and to display the Royal Arms on photographic mounts. Between 1849 and 1878, the Lord Chamberlain had issued royal warrants to less than a dozen photographic firms. This exclusive list of official royal photographers included the long established firm of H. J. Whitlock of Birmingham, the famous Scottish photographer George Washington Wilson, and Hills & Saunders, a business which had branches in Eton, Harrow, Oxford, Cambridge and London. Although George Churchill decorated his photographic mounts with the Royal Arms and various claims of royal patronage over a twenty year period, he was never granted a Royal Warrant.

George Churchill's claim to be "Photographer to the Royal Family" and more specifically "Photographer to Her Majesty the Queen" stems from some photographs taken in Eastbourne in the Summer of 1878 at Compton Place, a country house belonging the William Cavendish, the 7th Duke of Devonshire. Princess Alice, the third child and second daughter of Queen Victoria, was staying at Compton Place during a visit to Eastbourne. In 1862, Princess Alice had married a member of the German royal family, Prince Louis of Hesse (1837-1892). After her marriage, Princess Alice resided with her husband in the German city of Darmstadt. The couple went on to produce seven children. In 1877, Prince Louis succeeded to the title of Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine and Princess Alice became known as the Grand Duchess of Hesse.

By 1878, Princess Alice, Grand Duchess of Hesse was in poor health. She had experienced a personal tragedy five years previously when her young son Prince Friedrich, who suffered from haemophilia, died after falling from a window. Princess Alice had witnessed the death of the two year old and according to a later biography " the terrible death of her baby boy ...gave her a moral and physical shock from which she never really recovered". The same biography mentions that Princess Alice's elevation to the position of Grand Duchess had "meant a great increase of public duties, and consequently a considerable strain on her health". In 1878, Grand Duchess Alice was advised to spend the summer months of the year at Eastbourne for the sake of her health. The Grand Duchess took her six surviving children with her to Eastbourne. It was while staying at Compton Place in Eastbourne, that the Grand Duchess and her family were photographed by George Churchill as they were about to set off in a horse-drawn carriage.

After the Grand Duchess and her family returned to Germany, there was an outbreak of diphtheria in the royal palace at Darmstadt. In November 1878, five of the Grand Duchess's children were afflicted by the disease. Four year old Princess Marie, the Grand Duchess's youngest child, died of diphtheria on 16th November 1878. Grand Duchess Alice, who had made regular visits to her desperately ill children, contracted the disease and died as a result of the infection on 14th December 1878.

Meanwhile, back in England, George Churchill had submitted the photographs he had taken of Grand Duchess Alice and her children to Queen Victoria. The photographs had a special value to Queen Victoria as they were the last portraits to be taken of her daughter Alice before her return to Germany and her tragic death from diphtheria. The Queen and other members of the Royal Family requested further copies of George Churchill's photographs. The interest shown by Queen Victoria was reported in a local newspaper, The South Eastern Advertiser, on 18th January 1879 :

"ROYAL PORTRAITS - We have pleasure in stating that Mr George Churchill has been honoured with an order from the Queen for some photographs of HRH, the late lamented Grand Duchess of Hesse, as taken in the pony carriage at Compton Place. - 'To Her Majesty The Queen, Osborne, Isle of Wight. By Order of the Hon. Caroline Cavendish.  p. s. Her Majesty likes the photographs very much.'.- also an order from HRH the Prince of  Wales for some of the same photographs."

The order for further copies of the photographs of Grand Duchess Alice and her children from the Queen herself provided George Churchill with the wonderful opportunity to present himself as "Photographic Artist to Her Majesty the Queen". It was a fairly common practice in Victorian times for a tradesmen to send samples of their products to the Queen and the Royal Family and, on receiving the official acknowledgement of their gift, claim that they were now "By Special Appointment, Purveyors to the Queen". Even though they were not official suppliers to the Royal Household and had not applied for a Royal Warrant, businesses that had been sent some sort of receipt from the Royal Family, felt themselves entitled to to claim royal patronage and display the Royal Coat of Arms on their products and in their advertising. With an official order for extra prints from Queen Victoria, George Churchill felt justified in describing himself as "Photographer to Her Majesty the Queen" and to feature the Royal Arms in his publicity to indicate royal patronage. From around 1879, the emblem of the Royal Coat of Arms was printed on all the photographs produced at George Churchill's studio in Eastbourne.

The phrase "G. Churchill - Photographer to the Royal Family", accompanied by the the Royal Coat Of Arms emblem, started to appear on the reverse of George Churchill's carte-de-visite and cabinet portraits in 1879. Over the next year or so, George Churchill expanded his claim of royal patronage. As Edward, Prince of Wales, had also ordered copies of the photographs featuring his late sister, Churchill had the pretext to add "Their Royal Highnesses, the Prince and Princess of Wales" to his list of royal patrons. Copies of the photographs taken of Grand Duchess Alice and her family at Compton Place were distributed to her siblings and relatives across Europe. Princess Alice's eldest sister, Victoria the Princess Royal was the consort of Prince Friedrich Wilhelm, the Crown Prince of Prussia. Another sibling, Alfred, the Duke of Edinburgh, had married the Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia, the only surviving daughter of Alexander II, Tsar of Russia. Princess Alice's husband Ludwig IV, the Grand Duke of Hesse, who would have received copies of the photographs of his late wife, was also connected to the Russian Imperial Family. George Churchill claimed that he was also appointed to "Photograph the Royal Children of the Crown Prince and Princess of Germany, at his studio during their visit to Eastbourne in 1878". With the circulation of the Compton Place photographs across Europe and the commission to photograph the children  of the Crown Prince of Prussia, George Churchill felt justified to state in 1879 that he was now "Photographer to Her Majesty the Queen and most of the Imperial and Royal Families of Europe".  

George Churchill - "Photographer to Her Majesty the Queen & Most of the Imperial and Royal Families of Europe"

[ABOVE] An advertisement for George Churchill's photographic portrait studio at 4 Cornfield Road, Eastbourne, which appeared in Deacon's Blue Book Guide to Sussex, published in 1881. This advertisement incorporates the Royal Coat of Arms and lists his royal patrons, including Her Majesty the Queen, the Prince and Princess of Wales, Queen Victoria's daughter Princess Helena and her husband Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein, the Crown Prince and Princess of Germany (Prussia) and the late Princess Alice, Grand Duchess of Hesse.

[ABOVE] A portrait of Princes Waldemar (1868-1879), the youngest son of Crown Prince Friedrich of Germany and Victoria, Princess Royal, the eldest daughter of Queen Victoria. In one of his advertisements, George Churchill claimed that he "was honoured by Special Appointment to Photograph the Royal Children of the Crown Prince and Princess of Germany, at his studio during their visit to Eastbourne in 1878". Another advertisement gives the names of his young royal sitters as Princes Waldemar, Princess Victoria, Princess Sophie and Princess Margarete of Prussia.

In February 1879, George Churchill placed the following notice in The South Eastern Advertiser :
"With the Gracious Permission of Their Royal Highnesses, The Grand Duke & Duchess of Hesse, Mr G. CHURCHILL of 4 Cornfield Road, has just published some GROUPS of the ROYAL FAMILY AND ATTENDANTS, whom he had the honour of photographing at Compton Place. Mr Churchill has also been favoured with sittings by their Royal and Imperial Highnesses, Prince Waldemar and the Princesses of Prussia."

Another notice, published on 1st March 1879, provided further details of Churchill's royal sitters :

"The Prussian Royal Family - Royal and Imperial Highnesses Prince Waldemar of Prussia, their Royal Highnesses, Princess Victoria, Princess Sophie & Princess Margarete of Prussia".

In an advertisements which was published in the 1881 edition of Deacon's Blue Book Guide to Sussex, George Churchill claimed that he had been "honoured by Special Appointment to Photograph the Royal Children of the Crown Prince and Princess of Germany, at his studio during their visit to Eastbourne in 1878". The Prussian prince and princesses mentioned in Churchill's advertisements were the children of Victoria, the Princess Royal, Queen Victoria's eldest daughter, and her German husband Prince Friedrich Wilhelm, the Crown Prince of Prussia. The four "Royal Children of Crown Prince and Princess of Germany" who had sat for George Churchill at his Eastbourne studio were the youngest of Crown Princess Victoria's eight children - ten year old Prince Waldemar (born 1868), twelve year old Princess Viktoria (born 1866), eight year old Princess Sophie (born 1870) and six year old Princess Margarete (born 1872).

Since receiving orders from Queen Victoria and other members of the Royal Family in January 1879 for copies of "the Last Photograph" taken of Princess Alice, Grand Duchess of Hesse, George Churchill had been describing himself as "Photographic Artist to Her Majesty the Queen" and "Photographer to the Royal Family". The distribution of Churchill's photographs of the late Grand Duchess to the wider Royal Family across Europe and the portraits taken in Eastbourne of the four young children of the Crown Prince and Princess of Prussia, enabled Churchill to claim that he was effectively  "Photographer to Her Majesty the Queen and most of the Imperial and Royal Families of Europe".  From 1878 until his retirement from photography around 1899, George Churchill printed these claims of royal patronage, together with a representation of the Royal Coat of Arms, in his publicity and on the backs of the photographic portraits produced at his Eastbourne studio.

Strictly speaking, George Churchill was not entitled to display the Royal Coat of Arms on his work and had no royal authority to declare that he was "Photographer to Her Majesty the Queen". Only those photographers who had been granted a Royal Warrant under the authority of the Crown, had the legal right to declare they were "Under Royal Patronage" and had the proper permission to show an emblem of the Royal Arms on their photographs. George Churchill was not the only photographer to employ the legend  "Photographer to Her Majesty the Queen" and display the Royal Arms on photographic mounts without royal permission. As Roger Taylor pointed out in his article "Photographers to Her Majesty": "There were no really effective Acts of Parliament to control the use of Royal Arms or the false wording of advertisements. Even if there had been, it was the rule that no officer of the Crown could prosecute". With no real prospect of legal action being taken against them, professional photographers across the country did not hesitate to claim royal patronage or use the Royal Arms in their publicity. In 1884, The Photographic News quoted the Solicitors Journal's view that it had got to the stage that "the use of the Royal Arms by a photographer means nothing at all."

A number of studios across Sussex employed the royal emblems or used terms such as "Photographers to the Royal Family"," Patronised by Her Most Gracious Majesty", without the authority of a Royal warrant. (e.g. Robert Everest of Worthing, W. N. Malby of Chichester and Burt Sharp of Brighton). In Eastbourne alone, during the 1880s and 1890s, two other photographic studios suggested that they had royal patronage by using crowns, royal crests and coats of arms in their publicity. G. & R. Lavis of 71 & 73 Terminus Road, Eastbourne, claimed that they were "Portrait Painters and Photographers to Her Majesty the Queen and many of the Imperial and Royal Families of Europe" and R. W. Vieler of 3 Terminus Road, Eastbourne, rather cleverly implied royal patronage by calling his establishment "The Crown Studio" and printing the royal coat of arms belonging to "Her Majesty the Queen" and "H. R. H. Prince Arthur" on the reverse of his cartes.

George Churchill and other "Royal Photographers" might have become alarmed when the Patents, Designs, and Trade Marks Act was passed in 1883. Under one particular section of the 1883 Act, it became an offence to use "the Royal arms, or arms so nearly resembling the same as to be calculated to 'deceive' the public that the trade was carried on under such authority." Churchill might have felt secure knowing that the Crown would be reluctant to take a case to court. In the past, it had been left to members of the public to take legal action against traders who were making fraudulent use of the Royal Arms. Churchill probably became rather anxious when it was reported in 1884 that a London portrait photographer named William Turner had brought a private prosecution against the photographic firm of A. & G. Taylor for their "use of the Royal Arms without authority". A. & G. Taylor were obliged to remove the Royal Arms from their premises and their business documents, but the penalty issued by the court was just a nominal fine of one shilling, with an additional two shillings in costs. The leniency of the court in this test case probably re-assured George Churchill because he continued to use the Royal Coat of Arms and the declarations of royal patronage until his retirement in 1899.

Examples of Sussex Photographers Using Royal Coats of Arms and Declarations of Royal Patronage

[ABOVE] The publicity on the reverse of a carte-de-visite photograph produced by James Russell & Sons of Chichester (c1874). This photography firm used the Royal Arms and stated that it was patronized by H. R. H. Prince of Wales,  H. R. H. Princess of Wales and H. R. H. Duke of Edinburgh. Although this carte, which dates from the mid-1870s, carries The Royal Coat of Arms, James Russell & Sons were not granted a Royal Warrant until 1897. [ABOVE] The publicity on the reverse of a carte-de-visite photograph produced by D. Robert Everest of Worthing (c1881). Although David Robert Everest used the Royal Arms and stated that his Royal Art Studio was patronized by H. R. H. Princess Louise and the Marquis of Lorne, he was never granted a Royal Warrant which would have authorised his use of the The Royal Coat of Arms on his photographs. [ABOVE] The publicity on the reverse of a carte-de-visite photograph produced by G. & R. Lavis of Eastbourne (c1890). The carte is printed with a royal emblem, incorporating the Royal Crown and the text of the royal motto 'Honi soit qui mal y pense' ('Shame on him who thinks evil upon it') together with the claim that G. & R. Lavis were : ""Portrait Painters and Photographers to Her Majesty the Queen and many of the Imperial and Royal Families of Europe"
George and Matilda Churchill in Eastbourne - Part Two (1881-1899)
When George Churchill arrived in Eastbourne in 1870, he faced competition from three established photographic portrait studios -  William Hicks & Co. at 18 Seaside Road, the firm of G. & R. Lavis at 71 Terminus Road, and the photographic studio in Thomas Stafford Gowland's  Library at 16 Marine Parade. By 1881, the number of photographic studios had risen to seven. The firm of  G. & R. Lavis in Terminus Road, now managed by Thomas Rowe, was the only one of Churchill's former competitors which was still in business. William Hicks had retired from photography and had sold his studio at 3 Terminus Road to a German-born photographer named Rudolph Wilhelm Vieler (1853-1925). Thomas Stafford Gowland (1835-1923) had closed his photographic studio, but continued to operate The Library in Marine Parade. The gap in the photography market left by Gowland was filled by the veteran photographic artist William Hardy Kent (1819-1907), who took over a studio at 45 Gildredge Road. George Churchill's other rivals were less substantial. Robert Morton-Day (1831-1906), the former proprietor of the Gildredge Road Studio, was based at 102 Pevensey Road but he now devoted most of his time to "outdoor photography". John Edwards (born 1857, Cardiff) was a part-time photographer in Eastbourne. Edwards was a bell-hanger and gas fitter by trade, but he occasionally took photographic portraits. John M. Wilson (1840-1884), who had previously worked as a photographer in London, had only recently arrived in Eastbourne and he died in 1884 before he could make his mark as an Eastbourne photographer.

George Churchill, who by 1879 had established a reputation as a "Royal Photographer" [ See the panel headed George Churchill - Royal Photographer, above], ran a successful studio in Eastbourne for another two decades. By 1885, George Churchill had left the living accommodation attached to his business premises at 4 Cornfield Road and was residing at Hainault Villa in Moat Croft Road, which was located in the Old Town district of Eastbourne. The 1891 census records the occupants of Hainault Villa as George Churchill, Mrs Matilda Churchill, George's half sister Eleanor Shaylor, his twenty year old niece Emily G. Shoosmith and Eliza Holland, a young domestic servant from Cross-in-Hand in Sussex. On the census return, George Churchill is described as a "Photographer (Employer)", aged 54. George Churchill's forty-one year old sister, Eleanor Shaylor gives her occupation as "Photographer's Assistant".

George Churchill retired from his photography business around 1899. Churchill sold his photographic studio at 4 Cornfield Road, Eastbourne to Richard Henry Ramsden (born 1854, Leeds, Yorkshire) and then retired to his native county of Oxfordshire. The 1901 census records sixty-four year old George Churchill "Living on Means" in the Oxfordshire village of Wootton, two miles north of Woodstock. Still residing with George Churchill were his "half sister", Eleanor J. Shaylor, then aged 52, and his twenty-nine year old niece Emily G. Shoosmith, who is described on the census return as a "Music Teacher - Own Account - (Working) at home". At the time of the 1901 census, George's wife, Mrs Matilda Churchill was away from home visiting Sydney George Coles, a Music Teacher who lived in Pevensey Road, Eastbourne.

George Churchill died at Bankside, his home in Wootton, Oxfordshire, on 19th September, 1907 at the age of 70. George's widow, Mrs Matilda Churchill lived on for another dozen years, dying in the Oxfordshire district of Woodstock early in 1920, in her eightieth year.

H. H. Churchill

By 1909, the photographic studio at 4 Cornfield Road, Eastbourne, once again carried the name of "Churchill". Richard H. Ramsden gave up the studio at 4 Cornfield Road around 1907, the year of George Churchill's death. The Cornfield Road studio passed briefly to a photographer named J. Lamonte, but by the time Gowland's Directory of Eastbourne had been published in 1909, the proprietor of the studio at 4 Cornfield Road, Eastbourne was listed as H. H. Churchill. I have not yet established the identity of H. H. Churchill, nor found out whether he was related to the George Churchill who had owned the studio up until 1899. There was a Harry H. Churchill who was born in Wootton, Oxfordshire on 1st April 1877, the son of Hannah and Thomas Churchill (born 1838, Glympton, Oxon). Harry's father, Thomas Churchill, was the illegitimate son of Mary Churchill, George Churchill's aunt. In 1851, George Churchill was living with Mary Churchill and her husband James Smith, alongside their thirteen year old son Thomas Churchill. Harry Churchill's father was George Churchill's cousin, yet there is no firm evidence that this Harry Churchill took over George Churchill's former studio in 1909. At the time of the 1901 census, Harry H. Churchill of Wootton was working as a "Builder's Labourer" in Hammersmith and he appears to have been working as a labourer at the time of the 1911 census as well.

H. H. Churchill was recorded in local trade directories as the proprietor of the photographic studio at 4 Cornfield Road, Eastbourne up until the end of the First World War. The Trades Section of  Kelly's 1918 Directory of Sussex lists the photographer H. H. Churchill at two studio addresses in Eastbourne - 4 Cornfield Road and 56a Terminus Road. By 1922, both these studios were in the hands of Kent & Lacey, a photographic company with branches in Eastbourne and Brighton.

 [ABOVE] A studio photograph of a young woman, produced as a cabinet portrait by George Churchill of 4 Cornfield Road, Eastbourne (c1898). Printed below the photograph is the claim that G. Churchill was "Photographer to Her Majesty the Queen".

[ABOVE] The Death Notice for George Churchill which appeared in the in The Eastbourne Gazette on 2nd October 1907. George Churchill died at Bankside, his home in Wootton-Woodstock, Oxfordshire, on 19th September, 1907 at the age of 70. This death notice shows that a week or so after the death of George Churchill, another Eastbourne photographer William Hardy Kent died at his residence at 27 Upperton Gardens, Eastbourne. George Churchill had been in competition with fellow photographer William H. Kent for a period of twenty years, ending in 1899 when George Churchill retired from his photography business and returned to his native Oxfordshire.

 

Photographic formats and prices at George Churchill's Photographic Portrait Studio in Eastbourne

In June 1870 an advertisement in the The Eastbourne Gazette gave details of the prices charged by George Churchill at his photographic portrait studio in Cornfield Road. A dozen carte-de-visite portraits cost 8s 6d and a set of six cartes-de-visite cost 5 shillings. A customer could purchase sixteen copies of a portrait in the larger cabinet format for one guinea (1. 1s. 0d.). Churchill's prices were higher than those charged by William Hicks & Co. of Seaside Road, but not as expensive as those at the high class studio of G. & R. Lavis at 71 Terminus Road, Eastbourne.

In the 1890s, George Churchill was producing Midget portraits at his Eastbourne studio. These "midget cartes" were probably sold at a price of about 4 shillings a dozen. The standard price for a dozen carte-de-visite portraits in the 1890s was about 8s 6d per dozen. Cabinet portraits at this time cost around 15 shillings for a dozen.

[ABOVE] A midget carte portrait of an unknown woman, photographed by George Churchill of 4 Cornfield Road, Eastbourne (c1894).

[LEFT] A carte-de-visite portrait of an unknown woman, photographed by George Churchill of 4 Cornfield Road, Eastbourne (c1888).

[ABOVE] A cabinet portrait of a woman standing by a chair, photographed by George Churchill of 4 Cornfield Road, Eastbourne (c1878). Cabinet portraits were photographs mounted on a large card mount measuring roughly 11cm x 17cm

 

Examples of George Churchill's photographic portraits can be viewed by clicking on the links below :

Carte-de-visite Portraits by George Churchill of Eastbourne

Cabinet Portraits by George Churchill of Eastbourne

 

Acknowledgements & Sources

I am grateful to the author of the family history website Clavey Family Forum for providing details of the births and marriages of members of the Churchill Family of Oxfordshire (Glympton, Kiddington, Wootton).

SOURCES : Books:  "Crown & Camera: The Royal Family and Photography 1842-1910" by Frances Dimond and Roger Taylor (Penguin / Viking 1987); "The Life & Tragedy of Alexandra Feodorovna, Empress of Russia, a Biography by Baroness Sophie Buxhoeveden (1928). Articles: "More Photographers" by Frances Muncey (Eastbourne Local Historian, Number 110, 1998). "Photographers to Her Majesty" by Roger Taylor (1987). Primary Sources : Trade Directories : Kelly's Post Office Directory for Sussex (1870,1874,1878,1882, 1887,1890,1895, 1899,1903,1905,1907,1909,1911,1913,1915,1922) ; Gowland's Eastbourne Directory (1877) ; Deacon's Court Guide & County Blue Book of Sussex (1881); Pike's Eastbourne Blue Book & Directory (1885,1887,1889,1890,1891,1894,1895,1896,1897,1899.) Newspapers : Eastbourne Gazette (04/05/1870, 15/06/1870, 21/05/1884, 2/10/1907); South Eastern Advertiser (18/01/1879, 01/03/1879). Census Returns: 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901 & 1911. Websites : Births, Marriages & Deaths Records on FreeBMD ; 1881 Census & International Genealogical Index on LDS Family Search. UK Census Collection on ancestry.co.uk website. 1901 Census Online, 1911 Census. Clavey Family Forum. Bob Atchison's website Alexander Palace Time Machine, which features details of Princess Alice, Grand Duchess of Hesse, and her visit to Eastbourne in the biography of Alexandra Feodorovna, Empress of Russia, by Baroness Sophie Buxhoeveden. Articles on members of the British, Prussian and Russian royal and imperial families on Wikipedia.

 
To view an index of various members of the Churchill Family who were residing in the Oxfordshire villages of Glympton, Kiddington and Wootton during the 19th century, please click on the link below which will take you to the list of Churchill Family members detailed on the Clavey Family Forum website :

The Churchill Family of Oxfordshire

 

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