Friday, September 24, 2010

Sepia Saturday 42 : Tempus Fugit (When You're Enjoying Yourself)


School photographs feature prominently amongst all of our Sepia Saturday collections because in the days before digital cameras and Facebook profiles, school photographs were amongst the very few "rights of passage" images that most people possessed. My photograph this week comes from my "Family Photo" box, but like so many old images, it poses more questions than it provides answers. The main questions are : where, when, who and what.

Let us start with "where". The clue should be the flag, but which flag is it? (it is times such as this that you wish that colour photography had been invented a little earlier). Under normal circumstances I would bet good money that the schoolroom must be in Yorkshire (going back 200 years I have never discovered any of my immediate ancestors who were not born or brought up in Yorkshire). But if this was the case, why are the children holding what I can only imagine is the St. Patricks' Cross flag of Northern Ireland? 

The clue as to the "when" question is provided by the portrait of Queen Victoria which hangs on the school wall. Victoria died in 1901 so we can perhaps assume that the photograph pre-dates her death. But maybe the years had moved on and the old picture had been left in place. Is that, perhaps, a little piece of black mourning crepe that you can see near the bottom of the portrait? So for time we have a fairly wide "window of opportunity", ranging from about 1885 right through to 1910. 

And so we come to the "who". Which of the five children had significance to our family? I have enlarged each of the five faces in an attempt to find a distinctive look or feature that I can match to one branch of the family or another. The best I have been able to come up with is a vague feeling that there is a Beanland girl there somewhere. I can see quite a lot of my mother in the girl holding the flag just to the right of the boy : but it can't be her because the dates are all wring.

So, as usual, more questions than answers : but that is what makes these Sepia Saturday posts so enjoyable. And one final question to leave you with : what on earth is the young boy holding over his shoulder? Any suggested answers with regard to the where, when, who and what questions would be most welcome.

You can check out all the other Sepia Saturday posts by following the links on the Sepia Saturday Blog

23 comments:

  1. Perhaps it was St. Patrick's Day? Don't some English locales display the flag then?

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  2. Alan,

    The stance of the children is militaristic. If the old Queen is on display, you can bet she's still on the throne. I's put it as an image of some children showing support for a local regiment fighting in the 2nd Boer War. If it's Yorkshire, try matching the standard to a Yorkshire regiment.

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  3. I can't help you with most of the questions, although what Chairman Bill says makes sense. As to what the boy has over his shoulder... At first I thought it might be a furled umbrella, but in light of what Chairman Bill said, I'm wondering if it might be some sort of imitation weapon, to be used in drill. Who knows?!

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  4. I think Chairman Bill and Roy are on to something there. Whatever the case, It's fascinating. I would have preferred the photo of Queen Vicky instead of the portrait of Richard Nixon we had in our schoolroom!

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  5. Thank you one and all. The ability of fellow bloggers to throw light on the darkest corners of family history never ceases to amaze me.

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  6. nice pic alan...as to what is over the shoulder...based on teh other clues i believe it to be a fasces...

    Fasces (pronounced /ˈfæsiːz/, a plurale tantum, from the Latin word fascis, meaning "bundle"[1]) are a bundle of wooden sticks with an axe blade emerging from the center, which is an image that traditionally symbolizes summary power and jurisdiction, and/or "strength through unity".[2] Fasces frequently occur as a charge in heraldry, and should not be confused with the related term, fess, which in French heraldry is called a fasce.

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  7. Brian - or indeed a farce.

    Alan - you will not believe this, but my security word is stifi. Can you please have a word with your security people about their language?

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  8. Brian : You bring us enlightenment like the milkman deliver a bottle of goldtop.
    Chairman : I have already had a word with my security people - which is why you got the word you did.

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  9. Whatever is over the boy's shoulder is held as tho it were a rifle, so I also think Chairman Bill & Roy could be onto something. Other than that, the only info I can offer is that it was between quarter of & 10 of noon when the photo was taken-- & that I think it's an intriguing image!

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  10. I'm wondering if it's some kind of primitive telescope that's over the boy's shoulder?

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  11. Well, Alan, it looks like you have yourself several good mysteries! I wonder if the children in the class were divided into groups and had to choose a country, or regiment, as suggested by Chairman Bill, to represent. It's a very interesting photo.

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  12. Chairman Bill and Alan, your joint discourse is a hard act to follow.

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  13. I enjoy your detective work, Alan!

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  14. What the boy is holding: I sure don't know anything about cricket but the first thing that came to my mind was "cricket bat". I looked it up on Google images and it did sort of look like one. I'm sure you guys would have known if that was it,though.
    It's a very thought provoking photo.

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  15. What a fascinating photo and post but I am one who can't answer any of your questions sorry but would be most interested to know more if you do find out. I had a good look at what the boy is holding over his shoulder and can't see what it is ...it did remind me of a cars muffler so I know I am no use to you at all!!
    Two of the girls have lacing up from their shoes ...remind me of Irish dancers. such an interesting photo.

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  16. That's such a good photo and full of interest as you say. And they look so obedient and likely to give in their coursework. *Sigh*

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  17. sort of comforting to see i'm not the only one left perplexed when looking at some picture or another... good luck on your quest for answers!!!
    :)~
    HUGZ

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  18. I'm looking at the footwear of the girls. Two seem to be wearing heavy shoes and the other two, what look like ballet shoes. If this is the flag of St Patrick, may they have been performing some kind of dance display?

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  19. Hi Alan; yes, time flees; it is a wonderful photo with many questions.
    It looks to me also military style, but then military was the "IN" thing!
    I think the boy is imitating to hold a rifle, does he hold a fire extinguisher, I wonder.
    It is a fantastic photo. It would be nice for you to know which of the children has a connection with your family.

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  20. It was great to see the photo and equally enjoyable to hear everyone's response. What a classic. Some of them could be or one of them could be a great aunt of yours.

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  21. What a very intriguing photo - and comment thread. Sadly I have no new insights to offer. Queen Vic is in her widow's weeds so your guess at mid 1880s or after seems about right. The picture above her looks interesting - what could that be?

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  22. A Mystery! I Have No Answers! A few more questions tho! Why 5 ?Why 4 lasses & only one lad?
    In the boy's hand.....umm..... maybe the broken handbrake off the teacher's sharabang??

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  23. sorry i'm so late! what a mystery - and what a great photo. good luck finding out more.

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