Madame Pestel - Eastbourne Photographer

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Madame Pestel and Arthur Henry Pestel - Eastbourne Photographers

'Madame Pestel' was the trading name of the Eastbourne photographer Mrs Ann Pestel (formerly Ann Chetham) who operated a photographic studio in the Sussex seaside town of Eastbourne from 1900 until about 1930. The wife of the photographer Arthur Henry Pestel (1868-1900), Mrs Ann Pestel took over her husband's photographic portrait studio at 49 Terminus Road, Eastbourne when he died in 1900, at the age of 32.
Madame (Mrs) Ann Pestel (1869-1940)
Ann Chetham and her family before her marriage to Arthur Pestel

'Madame Pestel' was born Ann Chetham in Bedford, Bedfordshire, in 1869. [The birth of Ann Chetham was registered in Bedford during the 2nd Quarter of 1869]. Ann Chetham was the first born daughter of Elizabeth Pearson and Robert Holden Chetham (1845-1906), a boat-builder of Bedford. Ann's father, Robert Holden Chetham, was born in Brighouse in the West Riding of Yorkshire in 1845, the son of Ann and Samuel Chetham (1814-1884). Originally from Manchester, Samuel Chetham, Ann's paternal grandfather, was by trade a fellmonger (a dealer in animal skins), but in 1854 he arrived in Bedford and set up home with his wife and three children at a boat wharf in the St Paul's district of Bedford. At Batt's Wharf, Samuel Chetham constructed a boathouse, where he made pleasure boats. By the mid 1860s, Robert Holden Chetham had joined his father in the family boat-building business.

On 5th May 1868, at St Paul's Church, Bedford, twenty-three year old Robert Holden Chetham married Elizabeth Pearson (born 1846, St Neots, Huntingdonshire), the daughter of Edward Pearson, a paper mill worker. Ann Chetham, the couple's first child, was born the following year. When the census was taken on 2nd April 1871, Robert H. Chetham (described on the census return as a 25 year old "Boat-builder") his wife, Elizabeth and their two year old daughter Ann were recorded at the Old Ford, near Castle Lane, St. Paul's,  Bedford. Three daughters and a son were added to the family over the next dozen years - Elizabeth (born 1874), Alice (born 1875), Mary (born 1878) and Robert Chetham (born 1883).

By the early 1880s, Robert Chetham and his family were living at a house at 6 Commercial Road, Bedford, not far from the family boat-building business at Batt's Ford, Commercial Road. In 1870, Robert's younger sister, Elizabeth Chetham (born 1849, Halifax, Yorkshire) had married William Henry Biffen, a boat-builder from Hammersmith. Samuel Chetham and his two sons, Robert Holden Chetham and Samuel Chetham junior (born 1842, Manchester), joined forces with William Biffen to form the boatbuilding firm of Chetham, Sons & Biffen.

[ABOVE] A Victorian book illustration showing a boat-builder at work. ('The Boat-Builder', an engraving by W. J. Palmer, from a drawing by H. R. Robertson; one of the pictures in the book 'Life on the Upper Thames' by H. R Robertson which was published in 1875).  Samuel Chetham, Ann Chetham's grandfather, set up a boat building business at Batt's Wharf in Bedford during the early 1860s and Ann's father, Robert Holden Chetham, took over the running of the boat-building business when his father died in 1884.

By 1890, Robert Chetham, his wife Elizabeth and their 5 children were residing at a waterside house in Holme Street, St Mary's, Bedford. When the census was taken on 5th April 1891, Robert H. Chetham is recorded as a "Boat Builder (Employer)", aged 45. Ann Chetham, Robert Chetham's eldest daughter, was now 22 years of age, but no profession or occupation is given for this young woman on the 1891 census return.

The Chetham family were friendly with Annie Blake and her husband William Blake (born 1846, Surbiton, Surrey), a professional photographer who ran a studio in Midland Road, Bedford. The Chetham and Blake families were later to collaborate in staging lantern slide shows and screening the first ever "moving pictures" in Bedford. When Robert Holden Chetham died in 1906, William Blake and his family presented a special wreath at his funeral. Robert Chetham junior, who succeeded his father in the family boatbuilding business, built a permanent cinema on land owned by the firm of Chetham, Sons & Biffen and, in 1910, leased it out as the New Picturedrome Cinema to William Blake's two photographer sons, Willie Norman Blake (born 1870, Bedford) and Ernest Edgar Blake (born 1879, Bedford).

The association of Robert Chetham with William Blake might have introduced Ann Chetham to the world of cameras and professional photographers. I do not have any evidence that Ann Chetham had any practical experience of photography as a young woman, but she definitely had contact with professional photographers, because in 1891 she married Arthur Henry Pestel (born 1868, Elstow, Bedfordshire), a photographic artist who had just returned to England from Ireland.

[ABOVE] A pleasure boat cruising near The Embankment at Bedford, a detail from a picture postcard produced around 1910.  It appears that in addition to building boats, the Chetham family hired out pleasure craft on the River Ouse. Neil Wigglesworth in his book 'The Social History of English Rowing' (2013) explains that the establishment of a railway line at Bedford helped to promote pleasure boats on the River Ouse. Wigglesworth wrote: "Ironically, the railway in Bedford actually stimulated the growth of pleasure boating in the town since, when it arrived in 1846, it took trade from the river carriers thus reducing water-borne traffic and allowing the expansion of boat hiring from Chetham's yard".

[ABOVE] The firm of Chetham, Sons & Biffen listed under the heading of 'Boat Builders' in the 1890 edition of Kelly's Directory of Bedfordshire.

[RIGHT] Two ladies about to board a pleasure craft on the banks of the River Ouse at Bedford (c1900).  Samuel Chetham, Ann Chetham's grandfather, set up a boat building business at Batt's Wharf in Bedford during the early 1860s. Although a dealer in animal skins by trade, Samuel Chetham recognised the commercial potential of supplying pleasure boats in Bedford. The Tourist's Guide to Bedfordshire, published in 1889, advised visitors to Bedford that "boats can be hired at Chetham's boat-yard on the north bank if the river".

[LEFT] The trade plate of Blake & Edgar, Photographic Artists of  32 Midland Road, Bedford (c1878). The Chetham family were closely associated with the photographer William Blake (1846-1912), the senior partner at the Blake & Edgar studio.

1891 Census: Holme Street (Waterside), St Mary's, Bedford.




Robert H. Chetham

Boat Builder


Brighouse, Yorks.
Elizabeth Chetham


44 St Neots, Hunts.
Ann Chetham


22 Bedford, Beds.


17 Bedford, Beds
Alice daughter 16 Bedford, Beds
Mary daughter 12 Bedford, Beds
Robert son


Bedford, Beds

[ABOVE] Details of Robert Holden Chetham and his family as recorded in the census carried out on 5th April 1891. Robert Holden Chetham is described on the 1891 census return as a "Boat Builder (Employer)", being a partner in the boat-building firm of Chetham, Sons & Biffen. No trade, profession or occupation is given for Robert H. Chetham's eldest daughter, twenty-two year old Ann Chetham. The Chetham family were close to the Bedford photographer William Blake (1846-1912) and his wife Annie Blake (born c1849, Westminster), who assisted her husband in his studio in Midland Road (see trade plate on the left). It is possible that Ann Chetham received some instruction in photography from William Blake or his wife, Mrs Annie Blake, before she met her Arthur Pestel.

Arthur Henry Pestel (1868-1900) - Husband of Ann Chetham and Photographer in Eastbourne between 1895 and 1900.

Arthur Henry Pestell (who later changed the spelling of his surname from 'Pestell' to 'Pestel') was born in the small Bedfordshire village of Elstow in 1868, the youngest son of Elizabeth Prigmore and James Pestell, a gardener who occasionally had to take work as an agricultural labourer.

James Pestell, who was born in Elstow, Bedfordshire, in 1835, was the son of Mary and Levi Pestell (born c.1810, Cople, Bedfordshire), an agricultural labourer who had settled in his wife's home village of Elstow after their wedding. On 24th January 1854, James Pestell married Elizabeth Prigmore (born 1828, Elstow, Beds.), the daughter of Rebecca and William Prigmore. James Pestell's bride was already pregnant when they married; their first child, Joseph Pestell, being baptised in the parish church on 4th June 1854. A second son, Arthur, was born in 1857, but he died in 1863, just after his 6th birthday. Elizabeth Pestell gave birth to 4 more children over a six year period - Anne (born 1859), Margery (born 1861), Harry (born 1863) and Ada Elizabeth Pestell (born 1865). Arthur Henry Pestell, James and Elizabeth Pestell's last child, was born during the 2nd Quarter of 1868 and baptised on 7th June 1868.

When the census was taken on 3rd April 1881, James Pestell and his family were still living in the village of Elstow. On the census return, James Pestell is recorded as a "Gardener", aged 45, and presumably, his eldest son, twenty-six  Joseph Pestell (who is entered on the return as a "Gardener's Son") assisted him in his gardening work. James Pestell's second surviving son, 17 year old Harry Pestell, was in domestic service in London, employed as a "Footman" in the St Pancras district of London. James Pestell's youngest son,13 year old Arthur Henry Pestell, was still at school, but Arthur's sisters were all in employment - Ann Pestell (22) and Ada Pestell (15) were both working as milliners and Margery Pestell (20) was earning a living as a "Dressmaker".

In 1881, thirteen year old Arthur Henry Pestell was probably attending Elstow's Board School, which had been built in 1873 and accommodated 100 school children. Most boys would leave the local Board school at the age of 14 to go into employment or start an apprenticeship. Unfortunately, I have no documentary evidence of Arthur Pestell's working career during his teenage years, but, presumably, at some point Arthur served his apprenticeship with a professional photographer. What we do know is that by the time he was in his early twenties, Arthur Pestell was employed in the Dublin studio of Lafayette, a photographic firm which had been established in 1880 by the Irish photographer James Stack Lauder (1853-1923) and his three brothers. [During the 1870s, the photographic studio at 32 Westmoreland Street, Dublin, had operated under the name of 'Lauder Brothers', but in 1880, James Stack Lauder and his brother George Marsh Lauder (1858-1922) adopted the continental sounding pseudonym of 'Lafayette" and changed the name of the studio].

Arthur Henry Pestell's Marriage to Ann Chetham

Arthur Henry Pestell is not recorded in the census carried out in England on 5th April 1891, so we can assume that he was still residing in Dublin in the Spring of 1891. In the Summer of 1891, Arthur Henry Pestell was back in England to marry Ann Chetham. The couple were wed at St Mary's Church, Bedford, on 5th August 1891. In the Parish Marriage Register, Ann Chetham, described as a 'Spinster' of 'Full Age' (she was 22), gives her home address as St John Street, Bedford, but twenty-three year old Arthur Pestell, described in the Register as a "Photographer", enters his place of residence as "Dublin, Ireland". Presumably the couple knew each other from their time in Bedford, before Arthur crossed the Irish Sea to Dublin. It is possible that Arthur Pestell met Ann Chetham through the Bedford photographer William Blake (1846-1912) or his son, Willie Norman Blake (born 1870, Bedford), also a photographer. The Chetham family were friendly with Annie and William Blake who ran a photographic studio at 32 Midland Road, Bedford. Perhaps Arthur Henry Pestell made Ann Chetham's acquaintance while serving his apprenticeship at William Blake's photographic studio in Bedford.

Short Stays in London and Tunbridge Wells

After his marriage to Ann Chetham, Arthur Pestell did not return to Dublin. It appears that Arthur found work as a photographer in a North London studio. When the couple's first child, Arthur Robert Pestell, was born on 8th August 1893, Arthur and Ann Pestell were living in Tufnell Park in the Holloway district of North London. By the time their second child was born, a daughter named Ione Mary Pestell, late in 1894 or early in 1895, Arthur Pestell and his wife were residing in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. [The birth of Ione Mary Pestell was registered in the Kent district of Tunbridge during the First Quarter of 1895]. The family's stay in Tunbridge Wells was brief because, by the end of 1895, the Pestell family had settled in the Sussex seaside resort of Eastbourne and Arthur Pestell (now under the name of Pestel) had acquired his own photographic studio in Terminus Road, the main shopping parade of the town.

Arthur Henry Pestell and the 'Pestel' Studio in Eastbourne

Arthur Henry Pestell and his family arrived in Eastbourne before the end of 1895. Mrs Ann Pestell gave birth to a daughter in the seaside town during the final Quarter of 1895 and 'Arthur Pestel' registered a copyright on a photograph in December 1895, giving his business address as 49 Terminus Road, Eastbourne. Arthur and Ann had now changed the spelling of their surname to 'Pestel' and so their new daughter's name was registered as 'Marjorie Alice Pestel'. [When the births of their first two children were registered, the family surname was recorded as "Pestell"]. A fourth child, registered at birth as Dorothy Elizabeth Pestel, was to arrive early in 1898

In 1895, Arthur Pestel (formerly Pestell) had purchased a photographic portrait studio at 49 Terminus Road, Eastbourne. The studio at 49 Terminus Road had previously been owned by James Stoyle Catford (1846-1916), a photographer from Ilfracombe, Devon, who operated the studio with the assistance of his son, Alfred John Catford (born 1871, Ilfracombe, Devon) under the name J. S. Catford & Son. Before the arrival of J. S. Catford & Son the building at 49 Terminus Road, Eastbourne was a large private residence occupied by a retired Army surgeon and his family, together with four live-in servants.

[ABOVE] The trade plate of the photographer Arthur Pestel of 49 Terminus Road, Eastbourne (c1898). Arthur Pestell took the opportunity to restyle his surname as "Pestel" when he opened his own studio in Eastbourne.

Arthur Henry Pestel is listed as a professional photographer at 49 Terminus Road, Eastbourne in Pike's Eastbourne Blue Book and Directory published for the Year 1896-1897. The entry in Pike's Directory reads: "A. H. Pestel, 49 Terminus Road, Eastbourne - Photographer, Portrait & Miniature Painter (late Lafayette, Dublin)." Surviving examples of his work, indicates that Arthur Pestel was mainly producing carte-de-visite and cabinet portraits at his Eastbourne studio. Carte-de-visite portraits  were small photographs on card mounts measuring roughly 21/2 inches by 41/4 inches (6.3 cm by 10.5 cm ). The larger cabinet portrait was a photographic print mounted on a sturdy card measuring 41/4 inches by 61/2 inches. (roughly 11cm x 17cm). On average, professional photographers in Eastbourne during the mid 1890s charged 5 shillings for a dozen carte-de-visite portraits, whilst the larger cabinet portraits were sold at 10 shillings per dozen.

In August 1896, a photograph by Arthur Pestel, entitled "A Reverie", was accepted by the Royal Photographic Society for their 41st Annual Exhibition. Arthur's sepia carbon photograph showed a seated young girl, deep in thought, staring into the glow of a lighted hearth. Arthur Pestel was not a member of the Royal Photographic Society and so to have one of his works put on display in a London gallery was some achievement.

[LEFT] Arthur Pestel listed as a professional photographer at 49 Terminus Road, Eastbourne in the 'Trades' section of Kelly's Directory of Sussex, published in 1899. At this time there were about a dozen photographic portrait studios in Eastbourne.

This was the last time that Arthur Pestel was recorded in a trade  directory. Arthur Henry Pestel died on 6th August 1900 at the age of 32. Future editions of Kelly's Directory of Sussex would list Madame Pestel (Mrs Ann Pestel) as the proprietor of the studio at at 49 Terminus Road, Eastbourne.

The Death of Arthur Henry Pestel

On 6th August 1900, Arthur Henry Pestel, died in Eastbourne at the relatively early age of thirty-two, leaving Mrs Ann Pestel, a young widow with 4 young children to support. The Process Photogram, a monthly photographic journal, published a short death notice in September 1900:

"Obituary: Arthur Pestel, Eastbourne, was a rising photographer only thirty-two years of age".

When Arthur Pestel's will was proved on 5th September 1900, the probate was given to his widow, Mrs Ann Pestel and his father-in-law, Robert Holden Chetham, boat-builder. Arthur Pestel's total effects were valued at 1,358.10s.

Probably with the financial and moral support of her father and siblings, Mrs Ann Pestel decided to keep on her late husband's studio at 49 Terminus Road, Eastbourne. Initially Arthur Pestel's widow was listed in trade directories as "Mrs Pestel" or simply "Pestel", but by 1905 she was styling herself as "Madame Pestel".

[ABOVE] An old  picture postcard depicting the village of Elstow, where Arthur Henry Pestell (Pestel) was born in 1868. In the 19th century, the village of Elstow was on the outskirts of Bedford, lying 1.5 miles south of the town, but today it is basically a suburb of Bedford. In 1861, the population of Elstow was 618.

[LEFT] The Irish photographer James Stack Lauder (1853-1923), who, after 1880, traded under the pseudonym  of 'Jacques Lafayette'. Born in Dublin on 22nd January, 1853, James Stack Lauder was from a family of photographers. His father, Edmund Stanley Lauder (1828-1913) was a pioneer photographer in Dublin.  Three of  James Stack's' brothers - George Marsh Lauder (1858-1922), Edmund Stanley Lauder (1859-1895) and William Harding Lauder (1866-1918) - were also professional photographers. The brothers originally traded under the name of Lauder Bros. at 32 Westmoreland Street, Dublin, but from 1880 the studio went under the name of 'Lafayette'.

Around 1888, the photographer James Pestell (Pestel) went to work for Lafayette at the firm's main studio in Westmoreland Street, Dublin.

James Stack Lauder (1853-1923), the Managing Director of  the photographic firm Lafayette Limited.
[TOP] The trade plate of Lafayette Ltd. By the 1890s, Lafayette Ltd. had branch studios in London, Glasgow, Manchester and Belfast.

[ABOVE] An cabinet portrait by the photographer Arthur Pestel of Eastbourne. Although baptised "Arthur Henry Pestell", the Bedfordshire born photographer changed the spelling of his surname to "Pestel" after he  took possession of  James Stoyle Catford's photographic studio at 49 Terminus Road, Eastbourne in 1895.

[ABOVE] "A Reverie", a pen and ink sketch of Arthur Pestel's exhibited photograph drawn by Ralph Bayley as an illustration for the Exhibition Catalogue of the Forty-First Annual Exhibition of the Royal Photographic Society (September to November 1896). "A Reverie" (Exhibit No. 193) was a sepia carbon photograph by Arthur Henry Pestel of 49 Terminus Road, Eastbourne. In the Exhibition Catalogue, A. H. Pestel's photographic print, entitled "A Reverie" was selling for 7 guineas (7. 7s).
[ABOVE] Madame Pestel (Mrs Ann Pestel) listed as a professional photographer at 49 Terminus Road, Eastbourne in the 'Trades' section of Kelly's Directory of Sussex, published in 1905. Mrs Ann Pestel took over the running of her late husband's studio after he died in August 1900.

Carte-de-visite Portraits by Arthur Henry Pestel of Eastbourne

[ABOVE] A vignette portrait of an unknown woman photographed by Arthur Pestel of 49 Terminus Road, Eastbourne (c1899). Initially, the small photographic portraits produced by Pestel at his Eastbourne studio used old stock belonging to his predecessor (see right), but by 1897 he was using specially printed mounts. [ABOVE] A vignette portrait of a teenaged girl photographed by Arthur Pestel of 49 Terminus Road, Eastbourne (c1895). Pestel was using the old card stock belonging to his predecessor James Stoyle Catford. The studio name J. S. Catford has been scored through and the name "Pestel" has been over-printed on the mount. [ABOVE] A carte-de-visite portrait of the same teenaged girl pictured on the left (c1895). Arthur Pestel was using the old card stock belonging to his predecessor James Stoyle Catford. The studio name J. S. Catford has been scored through and the name "Pestel" has been printed alongside the address 49 Terminus Road, Eastbourne. [ABOVE] The teenaged girl pictured in the two images on the left, photographed in a different pose (c1895). As with the other two cdvs, Arthur Pestel has employed old card stock belonging to his predecessor James Stoyle Catford. The name "Pestel" has been printed alongside the address 49 Terminus Road, Eastbourne.

Cabinet Portraits by Arthur Henry Pestel of Eastbourne

[ABOVE] A cabinet portrait of a woman holding a parasol, photographed by Arthur Pestel of 49 Terminus Road, Eastbourne (c1898). [ABOVE] A cabinet card with a vignette portrait of a young woman, photographed by Arthur Pestel of 49 Terminus Road, Eastbourne (c1898).
Madame Pestel's Photographic Portrait Studio at 49 Terminus Road, Eastbourne

[LEFT] Terminus Road, Eastbourne (c1910).  Mrs Pestel's photographic studio at No. 49 Terminus Road, Eastbourne was located a few doors away from Clement J. Vinall's massive drapery store at 53 Terminus Road.  [ABOVE] In this detail of the photo, examples of Madame Pestel's portrait work can be seen showcased in the front window of her shop. [I am grateful to Grenville Godfrey for identifying the location of Madame Pestel's studio]
Madame (Mrs) Ann Pestel (1869-1940)
'Madame Pestel' - Photographer in Eastbourne between 1900 and 1930

After the death of Arthur Henry Pestel in August 1900, Mrs Ann Pestel decided to keep control of her late husband's studio at 49 Terminus Road, Eastbourne. Although it was rare for women to run photographic studios in the 1860s and 1870s, an increasing number of women in the late Victorian and Edwardian period were becoming studio proprietors after the demise of their husbands. Mrs Eliza Hawkins (c1828-1887) of Brighton, was untypical when she took over the running of Charles Hawkins' studios in Preston Street, Brighton when he died in 1871, but by the mid 1890s there were a number of widows operating studios which once belonged to their husbands, including Mrs Matilda Aubrey in Horsham and Mrs Eliza Bristow (1854-1932) in Worthing. During the Edwardian period there were more and more women operating as professional photographers in Sussex. In 1907, there were at least a dozen studios managed or operated by female photographers. Some of these were widows, but others were single women determined to pursue a career in photography.

In the 1901 census, Mrs Ann Pestel was recorded at two locations  - one as the 'Head of Household' at her business premises at 49 Terminus Road, Eastbourne, the other as a visitor at her sister's home in Eling, near Southampton. On the Eastbourne census return, the enumerator records Ann Pestel as a 32 year old widow and describes her as an "Operating Photographer" and "Shopkeeper" at 49 Terminus Road. Three of Mrs Pestel's four children are listed on the return for 49 Terminus Road - Arthur (age 7), Marjorie (5) and Dorothy (3). The census taken in Eling, records Mrs Ann Pestel (described as a "Photographer - Employer") alongside her 6 year old daughter, Ione Mary Pestel. The Eastbourne return provides a clue to how a young widow with 4 children under 8 years of age could operate a busy photographic studio. Her late husband's unmarried sister, thirty-five year old Ada Pestel, was on the premises to supervise the children and in addition to a teenaged general servant, there was Miss Frances Hand, a middle-aged woman from Dublin employed as a "Children's Nurse".

Mrs Pestell becomes 'Madame Pestel'

The 'Trades' section of  Pike's Eastbourne Blue Book and Directory, published for the Year 1901-1902, lists Ann Pestel as a photographer under the name of "Mrs Pestel", the only female studio proprietor amongst the 13 photographers listed in the Eastbourne trade directory. By 1905, Mrs Ann Pestel was styling herself as "Madame Pestel", giving the impression that she had continental origins. The family name of her late husband, Arthur, was originally "Pestell", but he changed the spelling of his surname to "Pestel" when he acquired his own photographic portrait studio in Eastbourne in 1895, possibly to suggest that he had continental or, more specifically, French origins. The name "Pestel" is an Old French name and while there were many people in France with the surname "Pestel", no inhabitant of France spelt the name as "Pestell". In fact, the name "Pestell" has a long association with the county of Bedfordshire, the surname of "Pestell" appearing in the county during the 16th Century. (For instance, a baby girl was christened "Agnes Pestell" in Swineshead, Bedfordshire, on 30th October 1566). When he was born, his parents, James and Elizabeth Pestell, registered his name as "Arthur Henry Pestell" and, again, when the child was baptised in Elstow, Bedfordshire, on 7th June 1868, he was christened "Arthur Henry Pestell". Arthur's father, James Pestell, could trace his family roots back to William Pestell, who was born in Elstow, Bedfordshire in 1786.

It was not unusual for Victorian and Edwardian photographers to adopt French or other continental sounding names to give the impression of an artistic quality or a noble pedigree. Arthur Pestell's former employer, the Dublin-born photographer James Stack Lauder (1853-1923), traded under the pseudonym of 'Jacques Lafayette'. The photographer Frederick Oakes (1840-1912) had his origins in Liverpool, but his Brighton studio went under the name of 'F. O. Devereux'. The photographer William Kessler (1859-1929) worked under the pseudonym of Eugene de Fontaine at 43A Ship Street, Brighton. The photographer who traded under the name of 'Mora' in Brighton's Western Road from around 1890 was in reality London-born Percy Cocker Mitchell (c1846-1899).

[ABOVE] Madame Pestel (Mrs Ann Pestel) listed as a professional photographer at 49 Terminus Road, Eastbourne in the 'Trades' section of Kelly's Directory of Sussex, published in 1905. Mrs Ann Pestel took over the running of her late husband's studio after he died in August 1900. Ten of the 133 listed studio proprietors were women.

1901 Census: 49 Terminus Road, Eastbourne, East Sussex






Anne Pestel (sic) Head (widow) Operating Photographer / Shopkeeper. (Employer at Home) 32 Bedford, Beds.
Arthur Pestel son   7 London
Marjorie Pestel daughter   5 Eastbourne, Sussex
Dorothy Pestel daughter   3 Eastbourne, Sussex
Ada Pestel


  35 Elstow, Beds.
Frances Hand servant Children's Nurse (not domestic) 40 Dublin, Ireland
Beatrice Lane servant General Servant (domestic) 19 Eastbourne, Sussex
[ABOVE] Mrs Ann Pestel and three of her children entered on the 1901 census return for  No.49 Terminus Road, Eastbourne. In fact, Mrs Pestel was staying with her married sister in Eling, near Southampton when the census was taken. Presumably the information was given to the enumerator by Miss Ada Pestel, Ann Pestel's sister-in-law and the sibling of her late husband.

1901 Census: High Street, Eling, Southampton






Arthur Edwards


Chemist's Manager 29 Buckworth, Hunts.
Alice Edwards wife   25 Bedford, Beds.
Ann Pestel


Photographer (Employer ) 32 Bedford, Beds.
 Ione M. Pestel niece   6 Tunbridge Wells, Kent
[ABOVE] Mrs Ann Pestel and her six year old daughter Ione Mary Pestel entered on the 1901 census return for the household of Arthur Edwards in the High Street of Eling. [ Mrs Pestel's other three children were living at home in Terminus Road, Eastbourne, being cared for by their maiden aunt and Miss Hand, a children's nurse - see above]. Mrs Pestel was visiting her married younger sister Mrs Alice Edwards (born 1875, Bedford). Ann's sister, Alice Chetham, had married Arthur Edwards in 1900.

Cabinet Portraits by Madame Pestel of Eastbourne

[ABOVE] A vignette portrait of an unknown  woman wearing a fancy hat, a cabinet photograph produced at he Pestel Studio at 49 Terminus Road, Eastbourne (c1902). [ABOVE] A cabinet portrait of a woman holding a flower and leaning on a concrete balustrade, photographed at the Pestel Studio at 49 Terminus Road, Eastbourne (c1908).
Madame Pestel, Photographer in Eastbourne

From 1900 (the year that her photographer husband, Arthur Henry Pestel died) until around 1925, Mrs Ann Pestel operated a photographic portrait studio at 49 Terminus Road, Eastbourne. Initially, Mrs Pestel produced photographic portraits in the traditional carte-de-visite and cabinet formats, but these type of photographs were going out of fashion during the first decade of the 20th century. Many of Mrs Pestel's competitors in Eastbourne, studio photographers such as George Austin of Seaside Road, Frederick Bourne of Langney Road and Rudolph Vieler of Elms Buildings, were producing portraits in the cheap and increasingly popular picture postcard format. As her assumed nomenclature would suggest, 'Madame Pestel' was aiming for a higher class of portraiture, although she did occasionally produce celebrity portraits in the postcard format. [Around 1920, Madame Pestel of Eastbourne issued a postcard portrait of the Irish actor William J. Rea]. Although Madame Pestel's photographic portraits in this period were no larger than those which appeared on postcards, they were generally pasted on larger card mounts in a range of subdued colours (e.g. olive green, light brown)

By 1911, Madame Pestel's son, Arthur Robert Pestel (born 1893, Tufnell Park, London), had started work at the Terminus Road studio. The 1911 census records Arthur Pestel as 17 year old "Photographer's Apprentice". In 1914, Arthur Pestel declared that he was employed as a "Photographer" in Eastbourne.

Madame Pestel's photographic portraits in the 1920s were generally in a larger format than the regular picture postcard; the photographic portrait often being surrounded by a large expanse of white card, on which the photographer would pencil her trade-mark signature 'Madame Pestel, Eastbourne'. Her photographic portraits taken during the First World War period and in the 1920s were often stylishly mounted off-centre, giving them an artistically modern appearance. Some idea of the class of her clientele can be gauged by the fact that a number of her photographic portraits are held by the National Trust and are displayed in country houses. For example, the National Trust has in its photograph collection a portrait taken by Madame Pestel of Eastbourne depicting Colin Rivett-Carnac (1881-1916), a member of the Rivett-Carnac Family, Baronets of Derby. Other portraits by Madame Pestel of Eastbourne held by the National Trust are displayed at the Welsh country mansion Llanerchaeron, which was once owned by landed gentry.

Sometime between 1925 and 1930, 'Madame Pestel' vacated her portrait studio at 49 Terminus Road, Eastbourne and moved her photography business to 7 Victoria Place, Eastbourne. It appears that 'Madame Pestel' retired around 1931, when she would have been in her early sixties.

The Pestel Family after 1907

In 1907, Mrs Ann Pestel, a widow of 42, married William Thomas Lambkin (born c1872, Bromley, Kent). William Thomas Lambkin, Ann's husband, was the son of Elizabeth Heather, a domestic servant, and Thomas Lambkin, a brickfield labourer. When William Lambkin was only 6 years of age his father died and his mother, Mrs Elizabeth Lambkin, had to return to domestic service. On leaving school, William Thomas Lambkin found work as a clerk, but by 1901 he was working as a "Photographer's Assistant" in Croydon, Surrey. Presumably, William Lambkin was eventually employed as a photographer by Mrs Pestel at her Eastbourne studio and a relationship developed between them as a consequence.

Mrs Ann Pestel married William Thomas Lambkin in Eastbourne during the 4th Quarter of 1907. No children were born from this union, but William Lambkin became the father to Ann Pestel's offspring. The 1911 census records Mrs Annie Lambkin (formerly Pestel) living with her husband, William Lambkin, and her four children at 49 Terminus Road, Eastbourne. Although, notionally, thirty-nine year old William Lambkin was the 'Head of Family', on the census return his wife Mrs Annie Lambkin is recorded as "Photographer (Employer - at home)", whilst her husband is classified merely as a "Worker". On the census form, William Thomas Lambkin describes himself as a "Commercial Traveller" in the "Photographic" trade. Presumably, William Lambkin travelled around the town drumming up business for Madame Pestel's photographic studio. Mrs Lambkin's photographic studio must have been doing well as she was in a financial position to employ two domestic servants - a cook and a housemaid. There is also evidence that she could afford to send her son to a fee-paying independent school in Suffolk.

At the time of the 1911 census, all four of Ann's children were living with their mother at 49 Terminus Road, Eastbourne. Seventeen year old Arthur Robert Pestel was learning his mother's profession and is described on the census return as a "Photographer's Apprentice". Arthur Robert Pestel went on to become a professional photographer, but his career was cut short by the First World War. When he enlisted with the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Sussex Regiment in 1914, Arthur Pestel gave his civilian occupation as "Photographer". Lance Corporal Arthur Pestel was killed in action at Cuinchy in France on 26th January 1915, aged 21.

As far as I can discover, only one of Madame Pestel's daughters married. In 1924, Ione Mary Pestel (born c1894, Tunbridge Wells, Kent) married Spencer Taylor Hazell (born 1894, Eastbourne), the son of Henrietta Grace Taylor and Thomas Hazell (1854-1897), an Eastbourne draper. Mrs Ione Hazell (formerly Pestell), gave birth to a daughter named Daphne M. Hazell at Eastbourne in 1926.

Mrs Ann Lambkin, who operated as a photographer in Eastbourne under the name of Mrs Ann Pestel or  'Madame Pestel' between 1900 and 1930, died in Eastbourne during the 1st Quarter of 1940, aged 71

[ABOVE] A oval portrait of a unknown woman, mounted on an olive-green card, photographed by Madame Pestel of Eastbourne (c1912). From around 1905, Mrs Ann Pestel styled herself as 'Madame Pestel' and from around 1910 until 1930, she signed her larger format photographs in the bottom right-hand corner "Madame Pestel, Eastbourne".

[ABOVE] The pencilled signature "Madame Pestel, Eastbourne" which appeared on the majority of the photographic portraits produced by Mrs Ann Pestel at 49 Terminus Road, Eastbourne between 1910 and 1930 (c1912).

[ABOVE] Victoria Place, Eastbourne, where, in the early 1930s 'Madame Pestel' , ended her career as a professional photographer. Victoria Place was where Terminus Road met Grand Parade on Eastbourne's seafront.

Sources and  Acknowledgements

Primary Sources: Trade Directories : Kelly's Post Office Directory for Sussex (1895,1899,1903,1905,1907,1909,1911,1913,1915,1922,1924,1930,1934); Pike's Eastbourne Blue Book & Directory (1894,1895,1896,1897,1899.1900, 1901, 1902). Kelly's Directory of Bedfordshire (1890). Magazines & Journals: The Process Photogram (Sept/1900); The Photographic Journal, Vol. 21 (1897) Census Returns: 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901 & 1911. Books: The Tourist's Guide to Bedfordshire (1889). Photographs: Carte-de-visite, cabinet and other format photographs by Arthur H. Pestel and Mrs Ann Pestel (Madame Pestel) from my own collection. Websites: Births, Marriages & Deaths Records on FreeBMD; Records of baptisms and marriages on LDS Family Search. UK Census Collection, wills, baptism records, etc on website; Bedford Marriage Registers on Steven Gibbs' Bedford Parish Registers website on. County and Trade Directories from the  Historical Directories Collection on Leicester University's Special Collections Online. Exhibitions of the Royal Photographic Society 1870-1915 on; Copyright registrations on National Archives website; Details of the death of Lance Corporal Arthur Pestel in 1915 on Roll of, Commonwealth War Graves Commission records on CWGC website and on Portraits by Madame Pestel on National Trust Collections website. Information about James Stack Lauder and the Lafayette photographic studio in Dublin on, the website of the Lafayette Negative Archive. 'Bedford Cinema History: Cinema in Bedford and the Chetham and Blake Families' on Bedford Library's The Virtual Library.

OTHER SOURCES:  Books:  'The Social History of English Rowing' by Neil Wigglesworth (2013)

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Thanks to Grenville Godfrey of Eastbourne, Gerry Allen of Bedford and Steven Gibbs of Bedford

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