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