Collings A Esme - Brighton
Arthur Albert Esme Collings and Keturah Collings
Arthur Albert Esme Collings (1859-1936) - Photographer, Miniature Painter and Film Maker
[ABOVE] A cabinet portrait from the studio of A. Esme Collings of 69 Western Road, West Brighton (Hove) and 69 New Bond Street, London (c1890).
Collings* was born towards the end of 1859
at Weston-super-Mare, Somerset [birth registered in the Axbridge
district of Somerset during the Fourth Quarter of 1859]. Arthur Albert Collings was the youngest son of
James Collings (born c1816,
Weston-super-Mare), a successful bootmaker, and his wife Elizabeth
c1818, Gloucestershire). Arthur Albert Collings had at least 5
siblings - Henry (born c1843), Charles (born 1847),
James W. (born 1851), Caroline Elizabeth (born 1853), and
William Edward Collings (born 1856). One of James Collings'
sons, James White
Collings (born 1851, Weston-super-Mare), became a master printer,
but Arthur Albert Collings and his brother, William Edward Collings
(born 1856, Weston-super-Mare), followed their father's trade of
At the time of the 1881 census, Arthur Collings and his older brother William Edward Collingswere living with their parents at 59 Bristol Road, Weston-super-Mare. Their sixty-five year old father, James Collings, is entered on the census return as a "Bootmaker, employing 10 persons". Arthur Collings, aged 21, and his twenty-four year old brother, William, are both described on the census return as bootmakers. James White Collings, Arthur's eldest brother had left Weston-super-Mare and was working in London as a master printer. In 1880, James W. Collings had married Mary Ann Roberts (born c1853, Camberwell) and was living in Camberwell in South London.
In 1887, Arthur Albert Collings married Keturah Anne Beedle (born 1862, Weston-super-Mare), the daughter of William Henry Beedle (born c1831, Bristol), an upholsterer and house furnisher, and his wife Eliza Williams (born c1833, Wales). Both Arthur and his wife Keturah had artistic talent and it is possible that they were brought together through their interest in art. It is very probable that at the time of their marriage, Arthur and his wife were working as artists or photographers. Around the time of his marriage to Keturah Beedle, Arthur Collings entered into a business partnership with the photographer William Friese Greene (1855-1921), who had previously operated studios in Bristol and Bath and was later to gain some notice as a pioneer in making "moving pictures".
[ABOVE] The trade plate of A. Esme Collings of 69 Western Road, Brighton and 69 New Bond Street, London, taken from the reverse of a cabinet portrait (1890).
[ABOVE] William Friese Greene (1855-1921).
The partnership of Arthur Esme Collings and William Friese Greene
[ABOVE] William Friese Greene (1855-1921). As a professional photographer, Friese Greene established portrait studios in Bath, Bristol and Plymouth. By 1886, Friese Greene had acquired two studios in London. Around 1887, Arthur Esme Collings became a partner in Friese Greene's London studios. The partnership of Friese Greene and Collings operated studios in London at 69 New Bond Street, 92 Piccadilly and 100 Westbourne Grove.
|William Friese Greene
was born in Bristol on 7th September 1855 . He was the son of a
metalworker and at birth he had been given the plain name of
William Edward Green. After he married
Victoria Mariana Helena Friese, the
daughter of a Swiss baron, in 1874, the young photographer used
the grander sounding surname of
William Friese Greene began his photographic career in 1869 when he was apprenticed to the Polish-born Bristol photographer Marcus Guttenberg * (c1830-1891). After Guttenberg moved north to Lancashire in 1874, Friese-Greene worked as a photographer's assistant to Mrs H. R. Williams of Bath. By 1877, William Friese Greene had opened his own photographic studio at 34 Gay Street, Bath. Over the next four years, William Friese Greene opened branch studios in Bath, Bristol and Plymouth.
In 1885, William Friese Greene decided to establish branch studios in London and so he travelled up to the capital to find suitable premises in the West End. William Friese Greene found two serviceable rooms above the shop of Atloff & Norman, Bootmakers, at 69 New Bond Street, W. London. A second London studio was established at 92 Piccadilly, W. London. Friese Greene's finances were stretched and he struggled to find money to pay the high rents for the London studios. Around 1887, he invited Arthur Collings to join him in his photography business. Arthur Collings entered into a working partnership with Friese Greene and with the financial backing of his older brother James White Collings, Arthur agreed to share the cost of running the two London studios. [ James White Collings, following the example of his two studio partners, changed his middle name from 'White' to the more distinctive 'Whyte', when he entered the photography business]. From this date, the studios at 69 New Bond Street and 92 Piccadilly carried the name of Friese Greene & Collings. [The three partners in the firm were William Friese Greene, Arthur Collings, and Arthur's brother, who was now calling himself James Whyte Collings. ]The business partnership of Friese Greene & Collings opened a third studio in the Notting Hill area of London at 100 Westbourne Grove. By 1888, Friese Greene & Collings had established a branch studio on the South Coast at 69 Western Road, Hove, close to the boundary with Brighton.
[ABOVE] The reverse of a carte-de-visite produced at William Friese-Greene's New Bond Street studio in London around 1886. A year later Arthur Esme Collings entered into a business partnership with Friese Greene at 69 New Bond Street. Friese Greene and Collings also operated studios at 92 Piccadilly and 100 Westbourne Grove.
The London studio of Friese Greene & Collings
[ABOVE] A fashionable lady views two cabinet photographs ( from a cartoon published in the mid 1880s ). Between 1886 and 1888 Winifred Tagg served as a receptionist for the photographers Arthur Collings and William Friese Greene and later provided an eye-witness account of their business relationship.
|The business partnership
between Arthur Collings and William Friese Greene was
observed by Winifred Tagg (born 1871, Hornsey, London), who
worked for the photographers at 69 New Bond Street between 1886 and
1888. Winifred Tagg began working as a receptionist and assistant at the
New Bond Street studio in 1886 when she was 15 years of age. The
daughter of Charlotte and Robert Tagg, a London silversmith, Winifred
earned 15 shillings a week at the Friese
Greene & Collings studio. Winifred Tagg's memories of the studio and
her two employers were recorded in 1948 by William Friese Greene's
biographer, Ray Allister (Muriel Forth) :
"Miss Tagg went to the post with enthusiasm. She liked her employers. Real gentlemen. Always smartly dressed. Friese-Green always smiling. Collins (sic) a little more distant, but always kind.
She was surprised that such nice gentlemen should put up with such cramped, shabby accommodation. The narrow stairs were dark, except for the gleam of the brass treads kept bright by the charwoman. The studio itself was carpeted with oil cloth which had large, ugly, ragged gaps in it that nobody seemed to think it necessary to have filled. The dressing room was narrow, cold, dark, and furnished only with a deplorable horse-hair sofa and a paint-shy, second hand dressing table. Such a mean setting was incredible, considering the people who came to be photographed. Titled people. Society ladies .... 'ladies from Queen Victoria's drawing-room' in their Court dresses and feathers and veils."
'Friese-Greene: Close-up of an Inventor' by Ray Allister (Muriel Forth). Marsland Publications, 1948. pp 34-35
[ABOVE] A carte-de-visite portrait by William Friese Greene (c1880)
Arthur Esme Collings ends his partnership with Friese Greene
[ABOVE] A photographic studio employing electric light in the 1880s. A. Esme Collings fell out with his business partner William Friese Greene over the cost of supplying electricity to their Piccadilly studio
[ABOVE] How the three partners in Friese Greene & Collings ( William Friese Greene, Arthur Esme Collings and James Whyte Collings) divided the studios between them after the business partnership was dissolved in May 1888.
|Winifred Tagg, the young receptionist at
the New Bond Street studio, also witnessed the deteriorating business
relationship between the partners and the increasing personal friction
between Arthur Collings and William Friese Greene. According to Winifred
Tagg, Collings was
irritated by Friese Greene's slapdash business methods, irregular
working hours and poor time-keeping. Apparently, Friese Greene would
leave the studio early on Friday afternoon and would not return until
Monday lunchtime and Collings clearly resented these long weekend
absences. Winifred remembered that even during the week, Friese Greene
would leave the studio and "disappear for hours on end" and when
he eventually returned to the studio, he would be confronted by an
exasperated Collings, who would deliver "a sharp comment on something
left undone, an appointment forgotten". Miss Tagg observed
that as time went on, the quarrels between the two partners became more
and more frequent.
Financial problems were also placing a strain on the partners' business relationship. Around 1888, William Friese Greene arranged for electricity to be supplied to the branch establishment at 92 Piccadilly, so that photographic portraits could be taken by electric light in an underground studio. Friese Greene contracted the London Electric Light Company to supply a specially strong current of 4,000 candle power at the Piccadilly studio. When Friese Greene refused to pay the electricity bill, the London Electric Light Company threatened to sue the firm of Friese Greene & Collings. William Friese Greene responded by making a counter-claim against the London Electric Light Company. Friese Green argued that the electric supply had had not been satisfactory and, as a result, the studio had suffered a loss of business. The weekly receipts at the Piccadilly studio had fallen from 80 pounds sterling a week to about 20. Ray Allister (Muriel Forth), William Friese Greene's biographer, believed that the threatened legal battle with the electric light company and the perceived financial mismanagement by Friese Greene caused Arthur Collings to quit the partnership :
"Esme Collin(g)s apparently thought there was another explanation for the reduced takings, blamed Friese-Greene, quarrelled so violently that the partnership split up" ('Friese-Greene: Close-up of an Inventor', page 61.)
After the partnership of Friese Greene & Collings was dissolved in May 1888, the firm's studios were divided between the two photographers. Arthur Albert Collings (who by this date had assumed the artistic sounding name of A. Esme Collings) and with the financial support of his older brother, James Whyte Collings, he took over the running of the studio at 69 New Bond Street. James White (Whyte) Collings, who was still in the printing trade, seems to have been a sleeping partner in the photography firm of J. W. & A. E. Collins. In the 1890 Post Office Directory for London, the studio at 69 New Bond Street appears under the name of Whyte Collings Ltd, which is probably a condensed form of James Whyte Collings & A. Esme Collings Ltd. Arthur's brother, James Whyte Collings **, established his own London studio at 404 Oxford Street around 1889. Subsequently, James Whyte Collings opened a second studio at 53 High Street, Kensington. In 1890, James Whyte Collings sold his Kensington studio to the London photographer Mark Vivian (born c1850, Hackney). By this date, James White (Whyte) Collings had given up his interest in photography and was concentrating on his printing business. James Collings allowed his younger brother Arthur to take control of the London studio at 69 Bond Street. By the end of 1890, the studio at 69 New Bond Street and the branch studio at 69 Western Road, Hove were both under the ownership of Arthur Esme Collings Limited.
|**James White Collings (also known as James Whyte Collings) was born in 1851 at Weston-Super-Mare. He established his own printing business in London and in 1880 he married Mary Ann Roberts (born c1852 Camberwell). Around 1887, James Collings joined his younger brother, Arthur Esme Collings, in his portrait photography business. By 1891, James White Collings had returned to his printing business and in the 1901 census he is recorded in Battersea as a "Printer", aged 50. James White Collings died at the age of 59 in the Wandsworth district of London in 1910.|
[ABOVE] The photographic studios run by the firm of Friese Greene & Collings as detailed on the reverse of a cabinet portrait (c1887). The partners in the firm of Friese Greene & Collings are given as William Friese Greene (1855-1921), James Whyte Collings (1851-1910) and Arthur Albert Collings (1859-1936). When the partnership was dissolved in May 1888, the studios were distributed to the three former partners. The studio at 69 New Bond Street, London, went to the Collings brothers who traded under the name of Whyte- Collings Ltd. (see below) and the studio at 92 Piccadilly, London, was retained by William Friese Greene.
[ABOVE] A cabinet portrait of Miss Evelyn J. Propert taken at the London studio of Friese Greene & Collings of 69 New Bond Street and 92 Piccadilly, London (c1887). Evelyn Jessica Propert (born c1869, London) was the daughter of Mary Jessica Hughes (born c1836, Worcestershire) and Dr John Lumsden Propert (1834-1902), a physician, art critic and amateur artist. Evelyn's brother Walter Archibald Propert (born 1867, Marylebone, London) was a physician and an authority on the Russian ballet. Evelyn Jessica Propert married Francis Algernon Govett (born 1858, Egham, Surrey), a wealthy stockbroker, in 1896.
[ABOVE] The trade plate of Whyte-Collings Ltd. of 69 New Bond Street, London, taken from the reverse of a cabinet portrait (c1889). The firm of Whyte- Collings Ltd. was created after the dissolution of the photographic firm of Friese Greene & Collings in May 1888. The studio at 69 New Bond Street, London, was owned by James Whyte Collings (1851-1910) and his younger brother Arthur Albert Collings (1859-1936).
[ABOVE] A cabinet portrait from the studio of Whyte-Collings Ltd. of 69 New Bond Street, London (c1889).The subject is possibly a sister of Evelyn Jessica Propert (born c1869, London) pictured above. Evelyn Propert's sisters were Isabel Rose Propert (born 1865, London) and Helen Dawes Propert (born 1870, London), daughters of Mary Hughes and John Lumsden Propert (1834-1902), a physician, art critic and amateur artist.
|Arthur Esme Collings in Brighton & Hove|
[ABOVE] A cabinet portrait from the studio of A. Esme Collings of 69 Western Road, Brighton and 69 New Bond Street, London (1890).
[ABOVE] A carte-de-visite portrait of a girl taken by A. Esme Collings at his "West Brighton" studio at 120 Western Road, Hove. Inscribed on the reverse of the photograph are the words "from Dorothy for Sibil, 1897"
[ABOVE] The trade plate of Esme Collings of 120 Western Road, Hove. (c1910)
|After the break up of his
partnership with William Friese Greene in 1888, Arthur Esme
Collings moved down to Brighton, Sussex, to take personal charge of
the studio at 69 Western Road, Hove. At the time of the 1891
census, Arthur and Keturah Collings were residing at 59 Dyke Road,
Brighton. Arthur A. Collings is recorded in the census return as an
"Artist Photographer" aged 31. No occupation is given for his
twenty-nine year old wife, but presumably Keturah assisted her husband
in his photographic studio in Western Road. At the end of 1892, Keturah
gave birth to a son named Arthur Cyril Esme
Collings [birth registered in Brighton during
the Fourth Quarter of 1892]. Sometime before 1899, Arthur Collings and
his family moved to 13 Alexandra Villas, Albert Road, in the West Hill
area of Brighton.
Arthur Esme Collings ran the studio at 69 Western Road, Hove from around 1888 to 1893. About 1893, Arthur Esme Collings transferred his studio to 120 Western Road, Hove. The name of A. Esme Collings was attached to the photographic studio in Western Road, Hove, from about 1890 to 1915. On the 1901 census return, Collings gives his real name of Arthur Albert Collings and the enumerator describes him as a "Photographer ( Employer )" aged 41. The Hove based photographer is shown living at 13 Alexandra Villas, Albert Road, Brighton with his wife Keturah Ann Collings, aged 39, and their eight year old son Arthur Cyril Esme Collings.
Around 1902, Arthur Esme Collings took over a second studio at 89 Kings Road, Brighton, but this branch studio operated for only a couple of years. For a brief period around 1905, Esme Collings was also in business at 143 Ditchling Road, Brighton, but by 1906 this studio had also closed. Collings was personally in charge of the studio at 120 Western Road, Hove until the Spring of 1906. On 24th May 1906, the studio in Western Road, Hove was brought under the control of the firm Esme Collings (Hove) Ltd.
From around 1898, Arthur Esme Collings was focussing on his talents as a miniature painter (see below) and so for much of the time he left the portrait photography side of his business to his partners and associates. By 1906, Arthur Esme Collings was not actively involved in taking portraits at the Western Road studio. There is some evidence that Arthur Esme Collings had moved back to London before 1905. In the Summer of 1905, a former army officer named Richard Berwick Hope was describing himself as the Managing Director of Esme Collings Limited [See section on Richard Berwick Hope below]. By this time, Arthur Esme Collings' wife, Keturah Collings, had opened her studio at 16 North Audley Street, London. When the 1911 census was taken, Arthur Esme Collings and his wife Keturah Collings were residing at 25 Hillcroft Crescent, Ealing, Brentford, Middlesex. On the census return, Arthur Collings is described as a a "Photographer", aged 51. No occupation is given for Arthur Esme Collings' forty-nine year old wife, although there is plenty of visual evidence to show that Keturah Collings was working professionally as a photographer during this period (see the section on "Keturah Collings - Artist and Photographer", below). On 13th April 1908, Richard Berwick Hope, the owner of Esme Collings Limited, filed for bankruptcy.
In July 1910, Esme Collings (Hove) Ltd was registered as a limited company. The studio still traded under the name of "Esme Collings", but the firm of Esme Collings (Hove) Ltd now consisted of three business partners - Albert Winder Grant (born 1869, Co. Tyrone, Ireland), a stock broker, and two professional photographers, Hal (Henry) Lawrence (born 1873, Nottingham) and William Leonard Staines (born 1881, London). The London branch of Esme Collings Ltd was dissolved in June 1913, but the company's studio in Hove carried on until at least 1915.
The studio at 120 Western Road, Hove carried the name of Esme Collings Ltd until the beginning of the First World War. The studio is listed in Kelly's Sussex Directory of 1915, but it had closed down by 1918.
It is recorded that Arthur Albert Esme Collings died in Eastbourne in 1936, at the age of 76.
|[ABOVE] A publicity sheet for the photographer A. Esme Collings of 175 New Bond Street, London and 120 Western Road, West Brighton giving his 'List of Charges' for Platinotypes and Mezzotints (c1894).|
[ABOVE] A large format portrait of Mrs Ellen Darby (formerly Miss Ellen Kerrison) produced at the studio of Esme Collings Ltd at 120 Western Road, Hove (c1912). Ellen Amanda Rachel Kerrison, the subject of the photograph, was born in Harwich, Essex, in 1876, the daughter of Emma and Joseph Kerrison, a "master mariner" (sea captain) from Norfolk. In August 1905, Ellen ("Nell") Kerrison married Charles Darby (born 1874, Essex), the son of Rev. Edward George Darby, the Vicar of Billericay. After their marriage, Ellen and her husband Charles left England for Malaya, where Charles Darby became a rubber planter. After her husband's death in Malaya in 1931/1932, Mrs Ellen Darby returned to England and settled in Heathfield, Sussex, where she died in 1960.
[ABOVE] A hand-tinted portrait of an unknown woman by Esme Collings of Hove (c1912). By this date, Arthur Esme Collings was no longer actively involved in the studio that carried his name. In 1910, the firm of Esme Collings Ltd was registered as a listed company and was controlled by three partners Albert Winder Grant ,(born 1869, Co. Tyrone, Ireland), Hal (Henry) Lawrence (born 1873, Nottingham) and William Leonard Staines (born 1881, London). The studio continued to trade under the name of "Esme Collings" until the the First World War. ( Esme Collings Ltd of 120 Western Road, Hove, is listed in Kelly's 1915 Directory of Sussex 1915, but it had closed by 1918.).
[PHOTO: Courtesy of Diana Mothersole]
Richard Berwick Hope, Esme Collings Ltd. and The Cosway Galleries
Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove
Arthur Esme Collings Limited in London, Liverpool and Manchester
Collings owned a number of photographic studios in London between
1888 and 1901. Esme
Collings had taken over complete control of the studio at 69
New Bond Street around 1890. Arthur Collings had moved the London
branch studio from No 69 to 175 New Bond Street around
1894. Various studios in London's New Bond
Street carried the name of Esme
Collings between 1901 and1907, but it appears that these studios
were under the control of a Limited Company, headed by Richard
Berwick Hope (1874-1952). The
firm of Esme
Collings Limited continued at 175 New
Bond Street until 1904. In 1903, two studios in London were listed under the
firm's name of Esme
Collings Limited - 175 New
Bond Street and 52 New Bond Street. Between 1901 and 1902, an
additional studio was located at 5 Golden Square, near Regent
Street. By 1905, Esme
Collings Limited was running just one London studio at the
new address of 171 New
Bond Street. The Managing Director of the Esme
Collings Limited studio at this time was Richard Berwick
Hope. The firm of Esme
Collings Limited was wound up by April 1907. Arthur's wife, Keturah Collings, opened her
studio at 16 North Audley Street around 1905 and is listed at
this address in London trade directories until at least 1908. In 1910,
Keturah Collings was based at 73 Park Street, near Grosvenor
Square. When the census was taken on 2nd April 1911, Arthur Collings
was recorded as a "Photographer" at
Hillcroft Crescent, Ealing, Brentford, Middlesex. By 1914,
Keturah Collings had moved her photographic studio to
7 Lower Seymour Street, W. London.
Arthur Esme Collings was mentioned as a photographer in Liverpool as early as 1897. In this year, two inventors, William Maplebeck and Robert Stookes demonstrated their "chronoscope"( a camera they claimed could photograph the past) at the photographic studio of Esme Collings on Liverpool's Rodney Street. [See the panel on the right for more details]. A photographic studio trading under the name of A. Esme Collings was listed at 43 Rodney Street, Liverpool in 1900. The studio in Rodney Street continued under the name of Esme Collings Limited until 1906. A second studio operated by Esme Collings Limited opened in Liverpool at 65 Bold Street around 1903. Esme Collings Limited also established a branch studio in Manchester at 22a King Street.
In 1905, the firm of A. Esme Collings Ltd was operating studios in Brighton, Hove, London, Liverpool and Manchester. By 1907, the studios in Liverpool and Manchester owned by Esme Collings Limited had closed.
[ABOVE] A "scene from the past" photographed in 1896.
Arthur Esme Collings - Pioneer Film Maker
Collings had entered into a business partnership with William
Friese Greene around 1887 and, together, the two men had operated
two photographic portrait studios in London. Friese-Greene had started
experimenting with the idea of making "moving pictures" a few years
before Collings joined him at his photographic studio in New Bond
Street. Friese-Greene patented a number of inventions associated with
cinematography and it is likely that he discussed his ideas with Arthur
Collings. Friese-Greene has been called "the inventor
kinematography" in England, but his practical achievements were limited
and only a few snippets of film featuring pedestrians walking along a
street have survived.
After he moved down to the South Coast in the late 1880s, Arthur Esme Collings began to make "moving films" of his own. In Brighton, Arthur Esme Collings made contact with Alfred Darling (1862-1931), a manufacturer of cinematographic equipment, who provided the photographer with film cameras and technical advice.
In contrast to William Friese-Greene's limited output, Arthur Esme Collings produced over 30 short films in the Brighton area during 1896. The short films made by Arthur Esme Collings in 1896 include Bathers on the Beach at Brighton (Summer 1896), Boys Scrambling for Under the Pier (August 1896), Children Paddling (August 1896), Donkey Riding (Summer 1896), King's Road, Brighton, on a Bank Holiday (August 1896), Rough Sea : The Hove Sea Wall in a Gale (1896), West Street Brighton (1896), Train arriving at Dyke Station (1896), A Lady Undressing in Her Boudoir (1896), and The Broken Melody (1896).
After 1897, Collings seems to have lost interest in film making and in 1898 he abandoned cinema to champion the revival of miniature painting.
Arthur Esme Collings - Miniature Painter
[ABOVE] A miniature photographic portrait by Arthur Esme Collings. This tiny platinotype print was set into a gold and pearl locket to take on the appearance of a traditional portrait miniature.
[ABOVE] A reproduction of an original miniature of two young women painted in black and white by Arthur Esme Collings. This reproduction appeared as an illustration to an article entitled "The Modern Miniature Craze", published in The Harmsworth Monthly Pictorial Magazine in 1899.
|A. Esme Collings - Miniaturist
In 1898, Arthur Esme Collings appears to have abandoned film making in order to concentrate on producing miniatures. Around this date, Collings published a small brochure entitled "The Revival of Miniature Art", which recounted "some romantic stories about miniatures and their painters." A little later, Collings issued a promotional catalogue with a similar title - "The Revival of Miniature Painting". The fifteen page booklet was designed to publicize the type of miniatures that could be produced at his Bond Street studio and included details of the prices for various styles of portrait miniature. By 1899, Esme Collings' London studio at 175 New Bond Street had become the headquarters of The Society of Miniature Painters.
In Kelly's Directory of Sussex published in 1899, Arthur Esme Collings was the only person to be listed under the heading of 'Miniature Painters'. One example of Collings' work that has survived is a miniature of Adelina Patti, the famous soprano singer. The reproduction miniature has been glued onto one of his standard cabinet format card mounts which gives details of his photographic studio in West Brighton. Most of Esme Collings' sitters were wealthy or famous. In 1899, Collings painted a miniature portrait of Frances Fleetwood Wilson (1850-1919), the English heiress who had recently married the Russian nobleman Prince Alexis Dolgorouki.
A Miniature of Mrs Florence May Orr by Arthur Esme Collings
Florence May Barley was born in Datchet, Buckinghamshire on 7th April 1881, the eldest daughter of Emma May Day and William Barley, a stock broker.
By 1890, Florence Barley's family had moved to Hove in East Sussex. The 1890 edition of Kelly's Directory of Sussex lists a "William Bailey" at 5 St Aubyn's Gardens, Hove, but this is obviously a misprint for "William Barley". William Barley, his wife Emma and their four children are recorded at 5 St Aubyn's Gardens, Hove, when the 1891 census was taken the following year. In 1898, Florence's mother, Mrs Emma May Barley died in Hove in 1898 at the age of 39. When the 1901 census was taken, William Barley, a forty-one year old widower who gives his occupation as "Stock Broker" is shown living at 5 St Aubyn's Gardens, Hove with his two daughters, nineteen year old Florence and 15 year old Sybil.
Early in 1903, Florence May Barley married James Spencer Orr (born 1882), the eldest son of Constance and James Orr, a resident of Hove who had made his fortune as a sheep farmer in Australia. By January 1904, Mrs Florence May Orr was residing in the "St George, Hanover Square" district of London. Florence's first daughter Daphne Constance May Orr was born in London on 17th January 1904 and her birth was registered in the London district of St George, Hanover Square. Mrs Orr was still living in this part of London when her second daughter, Iris Diana Orr, was born on 29th October 1906.
On 13th July 1909, Constance's husband James Spencer Orr left England for South Africa. After his arrival in South Africa, James Spencer Orr made his way to Robertstown, a settlement some 150 miles from Cape Town. Captain James Spencer Orr died in Robertstown, South Africa on 10th June 1910 at the age of 27. In October 1909, Mrs Florence May Orr set off for South Africa to search for her missing husband.
After she had established that her husband had died in South Africa, Florence Orr returned to England. On the 1911 census return, Mrs Florence May Orr is described as twenty-nine year old widow living on "Private Means". At this time Florence Orr was residing at The Cottage, White Rose Lane, Woking, Surrey, with her two daughters, seven year old Daphne and four year old Iris, together with three female domestic servants.
In 1913, Mrs Florence May Orr married John L. Dixon, a London solicitor. Two sons were produced during Florence's second marriage - Peter J. Dixon (born 1914) and Alec Paul Dixon (born 1917). Mrs Florence May Dixon (formerly Mrs Florence Orr) died at Worthing, Sussex, in 1937, aged 55.
[ABOVE] A detail from a miniature portrait of Mrs Florence May Orr (formerly Barley), painted by the artist and photographer Arthur Esme Collings who operated a portrait studio at 120 Western Road, Hove, between 1893 and 1906. This portrait was probably painted around 1903, the year that Florence married James Spencer Orr (1882-1910).
Don Shelton, an expert in miniature painting, believes that this miniature portrait was painted over a photographic base.
PHOTO: courtesy of Kit Houghton
To read an account of the family of James Spencer Orr and Florence May Orr, click on the link below:
|I am grateful to John Barnes, Mark Duguid (Screenonline), David Fisher, Frank Gray, and Robert Murphy for providing details of the film career of Arthur Esme Collings. Thanks to Steve Elliott for supplying the images of the Cosway Gallery portraits produced by Esme Collings Limited. Thanks also to Kevin Bacon, Curator of Photographs at the Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove.|
Keturah Collings (1862-1948) - Artist and Photographer
|Keturah Collings - Artist and Photographer
Keturah Collings was the married name of Keturah Anne Beedle, who was born in 1862 at Weston-super-Mare, Somerset [birth registered in the Axbridge district of Somerset (Weston-super-Mare) during the First Quarter of 1862 ; baptised at Holy Trinity Church, Weston-super-Mare on 13th February 1862]. Keturah was the daughter of William Henry Beedle (born c1831 Bristol - died 1907), an upholsterer and house furnisher, and his wife Eliza Williams (born 1833 Cowbridge, Glamorgan, Wales - died 1903). William Beedle's was a successful businessman. In 1881, William Beedle was employing 9 men in his upholstery firm and was served by at least two servants at the family home, a large house called "The Elms" on Arundell Road in Weston Super Mare. (In the 1880s the road name was spelt 'Arundell' and not 'Arundel' as in the Sussex town of that name). In a local trade directory of 1889, William Henry Beedle is listed as a house furnisher, a furniture van proprietor with his own house removal business, a furniture appraiser, an upholsterer and an undertaker. W. H. Beedle was also a house & estate agent, with business premises in the High Street and in Regent Street, Weston-super-Mare. William Beedle's furniture warehouse and furniture storerooms were located in Great Alfred Street in Weston-super- Mare.
Keturah Anne Beedle was the eldest of
five children. Her three brothers were Thomas William Beedle
(born 1865, Weston-super-Mare),
who became a house agent for his father,
Alfred James Beedle (born c1869, Weston-super-Mare),
who followed his father's trade and eventually worked in Toxteth,
Liverpool as a furniture dealer's buyer, and Leonard Edward Beedle
(born 1871, Weston-super-Mare),
who later became a chemist and druggist
in Stretford, Lancashire. Keturah's younger sister, Charlotte Ellen
Beedle (born 1866, Weston-super-Mare), went on to marry Clement
Henry Reynolds, a bank cashier, in 1898.
Presumably, Keturah Collings assisted her husband in his photographic portrait studios in Brighton and Hove in the late 1880s and early 1890s. Around 1905, Mrs Keturah Collings established her own fashionable photographic studio at 16 North Audley Street in West London. Keturah Collings' London studio was favoured by a number of European Royal Families. Her distinguished sitters included Albert, King of the Belgians (1875-1934), his wife Queen Elisabeth (1876-1965), Crown Prince Leopold of Belgium (1901-1983), Princess Marie-Jose of Belgium (1906-2001), Princess Victoria Louise of Prussia (1892- 1980), and Prince Hubertus Karl Wilhelm of Prussia (1909-1950). A number of Keturah Collings' portraits of members of the Prussian Imperial Family were issued as picture postcards in Germany by Gustav Liersch of Berlin before the outbreak of the First World War. Keturah Collings also photographed members of the British aristocracy, including Sir John Lubbock, Lord Avebury (1834-1913), Pamela Genevieve Tennant, Lady Glenconner (1871-1928), Lady Agnes Geraldine Grove (1863-1926) and William Plender, 1st Baron Plender of Sundridge (1861-1946).
Royal Photographic Portraits by Keturah Collings
Painted Portraits by Keturah Collings
Keturah Collings in London
| Keturah Collings, opened her
studio at 16 North Audley Street around 1905 and is listed at
this address in London trade directories until at least 1908. When
the 1911 census was taken, Keturah Collings was residing with
her husband, the photographer Arthur Esme Collings, at 25
Hillcroft Crescent, Ealing, Brentford, Middlesex.
By 1914, Keturah Collings had established a photographic studio at 7 Lower Seymour Street, W. London and she was listed as a photographer at this address in the Post Office London Directory published in 1915. There is evidence that by the end of 1915, Keturah Collings was working from her home address at 73 Park Street, London, near Grosvenor Square.
From 1913, around the time she closed her studio at 16 North Audley Street, Keturah Collings began to make a living as a portrait painter as well as a photographic artist. The Post Office London Directory of 1915 lists Keturah Collings as a professional photographer at 7 Lower Seymour Street, West London, but during and immediately after the First World War, Keturah was also painting small watercolour portraits of military officers (see above). The people who commissioned portraits from Keturah Collings generally came from the upper strata of society.
Keturah Collings closed her photographic studio in North Audley Street around 1913. After this date, Keturah Collings applied her artistic talents to painting small portraits in watercolours (see above). Around 1918, Keturah Collings was working from an address at 12A Savile Row in the Mayfair district of West London. Surprisingly, there is evidence that Keturah Collings was still involved in portrait photography at the time of the Second World War. A studio portrait of Pilot Officer Bruce McAllister of the Royal New Zealand Air Force, photographed by Keturah Collings of London, is held in the archives of North Invercargill Church, New Zealand. Pilot Officer Bruce McAllister died on 28th June 1942 at the age of 23.
[PICTURE: Courtesy of Jonathan Backhouse]
|The Last Years of Keturah Collings, Photographer and Portrait Artist|
Keturah Collings worked as a photographer and portrait artist
in London from 1905 until her death in 1948. During the First World War
period Keturah Collings was working as an artist and photographer at a
studio in the Mayfair district of West London. During this period Keturah Collings
was painting portrait miniatures and larger portraits in watercolour.
Some of Keturah Collings' watercolour portraits of well-known
personalities were published in colour in the journals of the day
[e.g. Keturah Collings' portrait of Miss
Joyce Wethered, an English
Lady Amateur Golf Champion of the 1920s was published in "The Field"
Keturah Collings also experimented with portraits that combined
photography with painting.
[ See the portrait of Miss Winefride Lyne-Stephens illustrated
Keturah Collings produced portraits of servicemen throughout the
Second World War
[ e.g. Studio portrait of Pilot Officer Bruce McAllister of the
Royal New Zealand Air Force c1942 ].
A signed photographic portrait taken in 1947 indicates that Keturah
Collings was still involved in portrait photography at the end of her
[See the portrait of Julia Ionides illustrated on the right].
Keturah Collings died in the London Borough of Ealing in 1948, at the age of 86. [ The death of Keturah A. Collings was registered in the Middlesex district of Ealing during the 2nd Quarter of 1948 ].
[ABOVE] A portrait of Julia Ionides, aged 5, photographed at the London studio of Keturah Collings in 1947.
[PHOTO: Courtesy of Julia Ionides]
Photographic Portrait from the London Studio of Keturah Collings (1944)
|Thanks to Andy Shaw of the Great
War Forum for permission to use Keturah Collings' watercolour portrait
of an unknown officer. Andy also provided details of the military career
of Arthur Cyril
Collings. Thanks also to
of Canada for providing
Keturah Collings' miniature portrait of his great grandmother, Mrs
Christina Alderton, and Jonathan Blackman for providing the
portrait of his grandmother, Winefride Lyne-Stephens. I am grateful to
John Forbes for drawing my attention to Keturah Collings' studio
at 12A Savile Row, Mayfair, London. John Forbes has in his possession a
portrait drawing signed by Keturah Collings. The portrait, which
dates from the period 1916-1918, is protected by a card mount which
carries the printed words "A portrait by Keturah Collings, 12A
Savile Row, London W1. " Thanks
(formerly Diana Darby) for providing
the portrait of her grandmother Mrs Ellen Darby, a photograph
which was produced at the Hove studio of Esme
Collings Ltd. Thanks to
Julia Ionides for providing
the portrait of herself taken in 1947 at the London studio of Keturah
Collings. Thanks to Linda Collins who provided the portrait of
her father Dr W. J. Turney, which was photographed at the London
studio of Keturah
I am grateful to John Barnes, Mark Duguid (Screenonline), David Fisher, Frank Gray, and Robert Murphy for providing details of the film career of Arthur Esme Collings.
Early Films made in Brighton & Hove
The following websites provide further information on Arthur Esme Collings and early films made in Brighton and Hove:
Miniature Portrait Paintings
If you would like to view more miniature portraits, I can recommend Don Shelton's excellent website - Artists and Ancestors- A Miniature Portrait Collection. To see Don Shelton's collection of portrait miniatures, click on the link below :