Lewes - Blagrove

Click here to return to home page

Daniel Blagrove & Sons of Lewes

Blagrove & Moore - Daniel Blagrove senior- Daniel Blagrove junior - Henry Blagrove

Daniel BLAGROVE senior (1821-1899)

[ABOVE] The trade plate of Daniel Blagrove, Photographer of 73 High Street, Lewes, taken from the reverse of a carte-de-visite (c1868). Blagrove reminds customers that he had become established as a photographer in Lewes in 1851, when he visited the town as a travelling daguerreotype artist with his partner Mr. Moore. [ See the newspaper item on  Blagrove & Moore, opposite ]

Daniel Cornelius Blagrove was born in Islington, Clerkenwell, London on 4th October 1821, the son of John Blagrove (born c1781) and Elizabeth Jones. Daniel was baptised on 2nd January 1822 at the Independent Chapel in Upper Street, Islington. Daniel had at least two siblings - Edwin Blagrove (born c1812) and Elizabeth Blagrove (born c1816). At the time of the 1841 census, Elizabeth was living in London with her sixty year old father John Blagrove, but her two brothers, Daniel and Edwin were residing in Cambridgeshire. By March 1851, Daniel Blagrove was living in Kent with his married brother Edwin. A trade directory of 1851, lists a "D. Blagrove" as an upholsterer in Ashford, Kent.

Daniel Blagrove has the distinction of being the first person to be recorded as a portrait photographer in Lewes. At the end of May 1851, Daniel Blagrove and his business partner Mr. Moore arrived in Lewes with their daguerreotype apparatus. After a week of taking daguerreotype portraits of the more prosperous inhabitants of Lewes, Blagrove and Moore set up a temporary studio near the Brack Mount, an earthen mound, which had once been part of the original Norman castle. The Brack Mount was a popular attraction in Lewes, and Blagrove and Moore were hoping to attract a good number of customers. An item published in the Sussex Agricultural Express on 7th June, 1851, under the heading "DAGUERREOTYPE PORTRAITS", shared the optimism of the two photographers : "The Brack Mount is very attractive at this season of the year, and its numerous visitors will, doubtless, take this opportunity of having their portraits taken in this correct, inexpensive and instantaneous manner."

We do not know what happened to Mr. Moore, but Daniel Blagrove must have been impressed with Lewes because he settled in the town and was to live in the High Street of Lewes for over forty years. Daniel's older brother Edwin Blagrove, together with his wife Mary Ann Blagrove, also made their home in Lewes. John Blagrove, perhaps another brother, is recorded as an umbrella maker at 150 High Street, Lewes in an 1855 trade directory. Both Edwin Blagrove and John Blagrove are listed as umbrella makers in Lewes during this period.

[ABOVE] A notice in the Sussex Agricultural Express of 7th June 1851 alerting the public to the fact that Messrs. Blagrove and Moore, daguerreotype artists, were taking portraits in the Lewes area. Blagrove and Moore were presumably travelling daguerreotype artists and were based in Lewes for only a short period. The two photographers had apparently set up a temporary portrait studio near Brack Mount, which was popular with visitors. Brack Mount was the artificial mound to the north-west of Lewes Castle and can be seen (labelled Castle Mount) at the top of this old map of Lewes [ See map, below].

[ABOVE] A map showing Lewes as it appeared at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Lewes Castle can be seen behind St. Michael's Church at the left of the picture. The Brack Mount (labelled Castle Mount), where Blagrove and Moore took daguerreotype portraits in June 1851, can be seen at the top of the map, to the left of the theatre (G). [ James Edwards' Map of Lewes, 1799 ]

Daniel Blagrove - a "Jack of all trades" in Lewes

By 1855, Daniel Blagrove was running a tobacconist's shop at 146 High Street, Lewes. His brother Edwin Blagrove is recorded in parish records as occupying premises in the passage between Joseph Burfield's greengrocer's business at 156-157 High Street and the Clock House of St. Michael's Church. John Blagrove is listed as an umbrella maker at 150 High Street, Lewes.

On 24th April 1855, Daniel Blagrove married Eliza Brooker (born 1831, Crawley, Sussex), the daughter of George and Rachael Brooker, at St Michael's Church, Lewes. The bride's age is correctly entered in the marriage register as 24, but Daniel Blagrove gives his age as 32, a year less than his real age. ( Daniel Blagrove seems uncertain of his year of birth and consequently his age was recorded incorrectly throughout his life ). Daniel Blagrove was mainly working as a tobacconist when he married Eliza. When the couple's first child, Elizabeth Sarah Blagrove was born on 1st December 1855, Daniel Blagrove was still running the tobacconist's shop at 146 High Street. The registration of Elizabeth Blagrove's baptism, which took place at St Michael's Church on 10th February 1856, recorded her father's occupation as "Tobacconist, High Street ". However, Daniel Blagrove, like many shopkeepers and tradesmen of the time, was engaged in a variety of activities to support his family. Daniel Blagrove is listed in trade directories as a tobacconist until 1859, yet he is recorded elsewhere as a wood turner, cabinet maker, furniture dealer and photographer. For a person who was practising the art of photography as early as 1851, it seems likely that Daniel Blagrove would have brought out his camera when there was a demand for his services.

In the autumn of 1857, Daniel and Eliza Blagrove's first son was born. The boy was named Daniel Blagrove, after his father, and baptised at St Michael's Church, Lewes on 8th November, 1857. On this occasion, Daniel Blagrove senior gave his occupation as "turner". By the time Daniel Blagrove's second son, Edwin Blagrove, was born on 9th September 1859, the family were occupying a tall, three-storey house at 73 High Street, Lewes and Daniel was devoting more of his time to photography. When Edwin was baptised at St Michael's Church on 11th December 1859, the parish clerk entered Daniel Blagrove's  occupation in the register as " turner, cabinet maker and photographer".

From 1859, Daniel Blagrove was taking photographic portraits at 73 High Street, probably in a studio at the top of the house. In the 1861 census, Daniel Blagrove is recorded as living in High Street, Lewes with his twenty-nine year old wife, Eliza, and their three young children - Elizabeth, aged five, Daniel, three, and one year old Edwin. Daniel Blagrove informed the census enumerator that he was working as a "Furniture Dealer". No mention is made on the census return of Daniel Blagrove's photography business.

[ABOVE] Lewes High Street (c1870). Road works outside the business premises of Joseph Shelley, baker, of 74 High Street, Lewes  To the left of Shelley's smart baker's shop is the tall, three storey building at No. 73, which served as Daniel Blagrove's photographic studio from 1859 to 1899.

Daniel Blagrove - Photographer at 73 High Street, Lewes

[ABOVE and FAR RIGHT] No 73 High Street, Lewes, photographed from the entrance to the Castle Precinct in 2003. At the extreme left is the wall of the Barbican House Musuem at 169 High Street, Lewes. Today (2006), the ground floor of  No. 73 is occupied by the shop of Marston Barrett Ltd, jewellers, silversmiths and watchmakers. The jewellers' shop at No 72 High Street, to the left of the tall, three storey building, was run by Daniel Blagrove's son, Edwin Blagrove in the  late 1890s. To the right of No.73 High Street is the narrow passage known as St. Martin's Lane. [CENTRE] Daniel Blagrove's home and business premises at 73 High Street is the tall, three-storey building in the centre of this Victorian photograph of road works in Lewes' High Street (c1870).


Daniel Blagrove and other Photographers in Lewes

In the trade section of Kelly's 1862 Directory for Sussex, Daniel Blagrove is listed under the heading of "Photographic Artists". Two other professional photographers based in Lewes are listed - Edward Miller and Edward Reeves. In 1862, the population of Lewes, the county town of Sussex, numbered around 10,000. Even with visitors from the surrounding area, Lewes could only support two or three professional photographers at any one time. When Edward Reeves (1824-1905), a former watchmaker, established his photographic studio at 159 High Street, Lewes in 1858, the only local competition came from part-time photographers such as Daniel Blagrove. Around 1857, James Russell junior (born c1835, Chichester), the eldest son of the well known  photographer James Russell of Chichester (1809-1899), opened a photographic portrait studio at 68 High Street, Lewes, but he had moved on after a year or so. Edward Miller (1816-1891) set up as a photographic artist in the Southover area of Lewes around 1858, but fortunately for Daniel Blagrove and Edward Reeves, Miller was primarily a Landscape Photographer and rarely took portraits. Another photographer of note active in Lewes in the late 1850s was John Thomas Case ( born c1819, Scotland), a tailor's foreman living in the St Anne's area of Lewes, who produced photographic views of Lewes around 1857.

Commercial portrait photography received a boost when the carte-de-visite format became extremely popular in the 1860s. For a brief period in the 1860s, established studio photographers, such as Daniel Blagrove and Edward Reeves in Lewes, were joined by a number of men and women who briefly made a living as portrait photographers. Around 1865, Mrs Margaret Case (born c1832, Scotland), the wife of the tailor and amateur photographer John Thomas Case, acquired her husband's camera and photographic equipment and set up as a taker of carte-de-visite portraits at 6 St. Anne's Terrace, Lewes. For a few years between 1866 and 1867, Samuel Lintott (1821-1873), a butcher by trade, worked as a portrait photographer from his home at 4 Lower Mount Pleasant, Lewes. However, for much of the 1860s and early 1870s, the triumvirate of Blagrove, Miller and Reeves was not seriously challenged in Lewes.

The demand for carte-de-visite portraits kept Daniel Blagrove busy and by the time his son Albert Blagrove was born on 19th December 1861, Daniel was able to abandon his other occupations. In fact, the business in portrait photography was good enough to persuade Daniel Blagrove to establish a branch studio in Uckfield, a small town about 8 miles from Lewes. When Blagrove opened his portrait studio in Uckfield around 1867, the town had a population of less than 2,000. Blagrove probably took over the studio of the Sussex School of Photography in Uckfield's High Street. This studio in the High Street was previously owned by Charles D. Clarke (born c1838,Scotland ), who was the proprietor of the Sussex School of Photography studio in Chichester. Blagrove either employed a photographer to manage the studio in Uckfield or travelled to the town himself on set days of the week.

[ABOVE] A carte-de-visite portrait of a seated young woman holding a book, photographed by Daniel Blagrove of Lewes around 1863. Introduced into England from France around 1857, the carte-de-visite was a small photograph on a card mount measuring approximately 6.3 cm by 10.5 cm. The card mounts were the same size as conventional visiting cards and so this new format of photograph came to be known as 'carte de visite' - the French term for visiting card.

[ABOVE] The reverse of a carte-de-visite portrait (pictured left) by Daniel Blagrove of Lewes. This trade plate dates from around 1863.



Daniel Blagrove's Photographic Studio in the 1860s

[ABOVE] A drawing by Charles Keene showing a photographer at work in a country town (1865). In this picture the sitter's head is held still by a crude head clamp, whilst the photographer removes the lens cap from the camera and times the exposure.

From around 1860, Daniel Blagrove's photographic studio was located at 73 High Street, Lewes. No.73 was a tall, three-storey building on the town's High Street, situated opposite the entrance to the grounds of Lewes Castle. On the left-hand side of the building was a row of smaller tradesmen's shops. To the right of Blagrove's premises was St Martin's Lane.

A skylight had been fitted in the roof at the very top of the house. A photographer's studio was often situated at the very top of a tall building in order to capture as much light as possible. Early photographic studios were often fitted with a glass roof or very large windows to let in as much sunlight as possible.

In the 1860s, camera exposure times were still relatively lengthy. If the subject for the portrait photograph moved when the photographic plate was exposed, the person's features would appear indistinct or even blurred when the image was developed. To ensure that the portrait was not ruined by a movement of the head or body, some photographers in the 1860s still employed head clamps and posing stands. A posing stand was often covered or disguised with the use of drapes and curtains, but occasionally the foot of a stand can be spotted in the finished photograph.


[ABOVE] A studio portrait of a seated man, photographed at one of two studios operated by Daniel Blagrove in the mid 1860s.The reverse of this carte reads "D. BLAGROVE, Photographer, LEWES & UCKFIELD". As in the cartoon opposite, the sitter has been seated in a chair placed on a carpet, in front of a backcloth. The foot of a posing stand, which helped the subject hold his pose, can be glimpsed through the chair legs. The painted backdrop creates the illusion that the old gentleman has been photographed at home in his sitting room, rather than a photographer's studio opened to the light. [See the drawing opposite]

Daniel Blagrove's Children

[ABOVE] The reverse of a carte-de-visite portrait from the studio of  Daniel Blagrove & Son of 73 High Street, Lewes. This trade plate design dates from around 1881, when Blagrove brought his eldest son Daniel Blagrove junior into the family photography business. The trade plate has been rubber-stamped on the back of a plain card mount. Later, Daniel Blagrove & Son would employ elaborate printed designs on the back of their cartes. (See below).

By the time the 1871 census was taken, Daniel Blagrove was assisted in his photographic studio by his two eldest children. In the census return for the household at 73 High Street, Lewes, Blagrove declared that he was a "Photographer - Master employing 2 assistants". The two assistants in question were his fifteen year old daughter Elizabeth Sarah Blagrove and Daniel Blagrove junior, aged 13. At this date, Daniel Blagrove senior had a total of six children. Edwin, aged 11, and Albert, aged 9, were still at school and Eliza Blagrove, who was born in Lewes on 1st January 1865, was a six year old schoolgirl. The youngest daughter, Emily Blagrove, had arrived during the third quarter of 1867. The last Blagrove child to be born was Henry Gamble Blagrove  [birth registered in Lewes during the second quarter of 1873]. Henry's namesake was Henry Gamble Blagrove (1811-1872), a famous musician and violinist who had died the previous year. The famous musician may have been related to the original Blagrove family of London or perhaps Daniel Blagrove could not resist naming his last son after a celebrated Blagrove. The name association worked out well because Henry Gamble Blagrove, Daniel Blagrove's youngest son, eventually became a Teacher of Music.

Around 1881, Daniel Blagrove junior was taken into the family photography business as a partner. On the 1881 census return, Daniel Blagrove senior is entered as a "Photographer / employs 1 man" and he gives his age as 57. Daniel Blagrove junior, his eldest son, also gives his occupation as "Photographer". Sixteen year old Eliza Blagrove is described as a "Photographer's Daughter" and probably assisted her father in the family business. Also entered on the household census return for 73 High Street, Lewes, is Daniel Blagrove senior's grandson, William Arthur Peacock. Daniel Blagrove senior's eldest child, Elizabeth Sarah Blagrove, had married William Peacock (born c1856, Seaford), a young accountant, at Brighton's St Nicholas Church on 5th October 1878. William Arthur Peacock, Elizabeth's first and only child was born during the third quarter of 1879. Sadly, Elizabeth died the following year at the early age of 24. William Peacock, Elizabeth's widowed husband went into lodgings and his son William Arthur passed into the care of his grandparents.

Edwin Blagrove, who was 21 years of age, was working as a jeweller and 19 year old Albert Blagrove is listed as an "Umbrella Maker", a craft previously carried out by his Uncle Edwin. (At the time of the 1881 census Edwin Blagrove, now aged 68, was an inmate of the Lewes Union Workhouse in Irelands Lane. Under the column headed "Occupation", Edwin Blagrove is described as "Umbrella Maker - Pauper". Mrs Mary Ann Blagrove was in the female wing of Lewes Workhouse and she is listed as "Wife of Umbrella Maker - Pauper", aged 74).


[ABOVE] A carte-de-visite portrait of a young woman standing by a chair, photographed by Daniel Blagrove of Lewes around 1880. This photograph was taken around the time that Elizabeth Sarah Blagrove, Daniel Blagrove's eldest daughter, died at the age of twenty-four.

Daniel Blagrove & Sons

[ABOVE] A portrait of Henry Gamble Blagrove (1811-1872), a distinguished violinist and musician. Daniel Blagrove senior's youngest son was probably named after this celebrated violinist. The original Henry Gamble Blagrove was born in Nottingham on 20th October 1811, but the Blagrove family of musicians* mainly lived in London. Henry G. Blagrove of Lewes might have been related to the famous Blagrove family of musicians, but it is more likely that he was named in honour of the famous violinist who died in December 1872, a matter of months before Daniel Blagrove's son Henry was born. Henry G. Blagrove of Lewes followed his hero's example and became a banjo player and teacher of music.

*Other members of the famous Blagrove family of  musicians include Richard Manning senior, a Professor of Music and his sons Richard Manning Blagrove (1826-1895), a concertina player and composer, and William Manning Blagrove (1813-1858), a violinist and composer.

In the 1880s and 1890s, cartes produced at Daniel Blagrove's studio at 73 High Street, Lewes carry the name of the firm of "D. Blagrove & Son". Daniel Blagrove junior had been assisting his father at the High Street studio since the age of thirteen and around 1880 he was taken into the business as a partner.

In 1888, Daniel Blagrove junior married Mildred Albertine Leverett (born c1861, Oxford), the daughter of Sarah Leverett of Oxford [ marriage registered in the Headington District of Oxfordshire during the Second Quarter of 1888 ]. Daniel and Mildred Blagrove set up home at 25 New Road, Lewes. The couple's first child Archie Pierson Blagrove was born during the Second Quarter of 1889. (Pierson was the surname of a close friend of Mildred's - Susannah Pierson - who had lodged at her mother's house in the early 1880s). A second child, registered as Daisy May Blagrove, but known as "May", was born early in 1891 [birth registered in Lewes during the first quarter of 1891]. Jessie Beatrice Blagrove, Daniel Blagrove junior's third child, was born during the summer of 1893 and baptised on 13th August 1893.

Henry Gamble Blagrove worked as a photographer in the studio of D. Blagrove & Son from around 1890. In the 1891 census, Henry G. Gamble is described as a "Photographer", aged 17. Henry G. Blagrove became an equal member of the family business around 1897, when he was in his mid-twenties. From about 1897, the studio at 73 High Street was known as D. Blagrove & Sons. However, Henry Gamble Blagrove was determined to follow the example of his famous namesake - the noted violinist and musician Henry Gamble Blagrove (1811-1872) - and by 1899, he was working as a Teacher of Music and instructing students in the playing of the banjo at 73 High Street, the Blagrove family home. Henry's sister, Eliza Blagrove, shared his musical interests and was an accomplished pianist. Henry G. Blagrove married in 1903 and worked as a music teacher from his house at 117 High Street, Lewes. By 1915 Henry G. Blagrove was living at Castle Gate Villa on Lewes High Street.

In 1885, Edwin Blagrove, who had trained as a watchmaker, married Jane Stevens (born 1853, Lewes), the daughter of a Lewes tobacconist. By 1899, Edwin Blagrove had established himself as a watchmaker and jeweller at 72 High Street, a shop that adjoined his father's photography studio. This shop is used for the same purpose today by a firm of jewellers and watchmakers (Marston Barrett Ltd in 2006). Edwin and Jane Blagrove produced two sons - Edwin Ernest Blagrove (born 1886) and Arthur John Blagrove (born 1890).

Albert Blagrove adopted his father's previous occupation and worked as a tobacconist. In 1884 he married Elizabeth Mary Stevens (born 1861, Lewes), the daughter of John and Jane Stevens, who owned a tobacconist's shop at 180 High Street, Lewes. ( Albert's older brother Edwin Blagrove went on to marry Elizabeth's eldest sister, Jane, in the following year ). Albert ran his own tobacconist business at 153 High Street, Lewes from about 1890. After John Stevens, his father-in-law, died in 1899, Albert Blagrove took over his tobacconist's shop at 180 High Street. By this date, Albert and Elizabeth Blagrove had three children - Albert George Blagrove (born1885), Sydney Blagrove (born 1889) and Dorothy Blagrove (born 1891). Albert Blagrove died in Lewes in 1910 at the age of 48.

[ABOVE] The reverse of a carte-de-visite portrait from the studio of  Daniel Blagrove & Sons of 73 High Street, Lewes. This trade plate design dates from around 1897.

The Blagroves of Lewes after 1891

When the 1891 census was taken, Daniel Blagrove senior was still running the photographic studio at 73 High Street, Lewes. In the census return Daniel Blagrove is recorded as a "Photographer", aged 67. (According to baptism records, Daniel was really approaching his 70th birthday). His son Daniel Blagrove junior was now living at 25 New Road, Lewes with his wife Mildred and their two young children - Archie, who was nearly two, and baby Daisy May. Daniel Blagrove junior is described in the 1891 census return as a "Photographer", aged 33. As Daniel Blagrove entered his seventies, his son Daniel took an increasing role in the photography business. It is likely that Daniel Blagrove junior took most of the photographs at the High street studio after 1895. Around this time, the firm of D. Blagrove & Sons were offering a picture framing service, and given Daniel Blagrove senior's woodworking experience it seems possible that the old man kept himself busy by making picture frames on the premises.

Even in 1895, there were still only three photographic studios in Lewes. Edward Miller, the long established landscape photographer of Lewes, had died in 1891 at the age of 75. The three Lewes studios listed in Kelly's Sussex Post Office Directory of 1895 were Blagrove's studio at 73 High Street, Edward Reeves at 159 High Street, and Bliss & Co at 34 Lansdowne Place, Lewes. The proprietor of the studio in Lansdowne Place was Alfred Marsh Bliss (born 1861, Cardiff, Wales), who had taken over the studio situated next to the 'Lansdowne Arms' public house around 1890.

By 1891, four of Daniel and Eliza Blagrove's seven children had married. In the census return, their youngest daughter Emily is described as a "Mother's Help", aged 29, and seventeen year old Henry was working as a photographer in his father's studio. Eliza Blagrove, the musical daughter who played the piano, married Albert Edwin Sutton (born c1869,Westerham, Kent), a music teacher, in 1893. Eliza played the piano professionally and together with her husband she later taught music and ran a music shop in Kent. In 1897, Daniel Blagrove's youngest daughter, Emily Blagrove, married a grocer named Thomas James Douse (born c1866, St Pancras, London) and settled in Croydon, Surrey.

At the time of his youngest daughter's marriage in 1897, Daniel Blagrove senior had nine grandchildren.

The death of Daniel Cornelius Blagrove was recorded in Lewes during the Second Quarter of 1899. The register gives his age at death as 75, but according to his baptism record Daniel Blagrove senior would have been seventy-seven years of age when he passed away. Daniel's wife, Mrs Eliza Blagrove, was still alive in 1901. She is described as a 69 year old widow in the census of that year.

After Daniel Blagrove's death, his eldest son Daniel Blagrove junior became the sole proprietor of the photographic studio at 73 High Street, Lewes. Although his brothers were engaged in other occupations in Lewes - Edwin Blagrove was a jeweller and watchmaker, Albert Blagrove, a tobacconist, and Henry G. Blagrove, a music teacher - Daniel Blagrove junior retained the name of  D. Blagrove & Sons for his studio in the High Street. Daniel Blagrove was the only son actively engaged in photography in the early part of the 20th century, but photographs produced at his studio in the 1900s carry the name of "D. Blagrove & Sons". The other brothers might have been silent partners and retained a financial interest in the photography business. Daniel Blagrove continued as a photographer in Lewes at the old studio of 73 High Street until at least 1918.


[ABOVE] A carte-de-visite portrait of a baby taken at the studio of  Daniel Blagrove & Sons of 73 High Street, Lewes. (c1897)


Click the link below to view examples of the photographic work of Daniel Blagrove and Daniel Blagrove & Son of Lewes

The photographic work of Daniel Blagrove and D. Blagrove & Son


Click the link below to view photographs of members of the Blagrove Family

The Blagrove Family Album