Uckfield Photographers (A-G)

Click here to return to home page

Professional Photographers in Uckfield

William Bartup - Daniel Blagrove - Thomas Cowdrey - John Frisby - W. Hughes & Son - Arthur Windsor Spice - Sussex School of Photography - George Bingham Towner

Part 1 :  Uckfield Photographers ( A - G)

William Bartup ( born c1838 Brighton - died 1872 Brighton ) - Recorded as a Photographer at 50 High Street, Uckfield in the 1861 Census.

William Bartup was the eldest son of William Bartup senior (c1817-1878), a baker of Brighton, and his wife Lucy Penfold (c1817-1876), a school mistress. The 1851 census shows William Bartup senior and his family residing at 15 George Street Gardens, Brighton. William Bartup junior is entered on the return, but no occupation is given for the thirteen year old. Interestingly, William Bartup junior's parents were letting out a room in their house to Archibald Stuart (born c1815 London), a thirty-six year old "Portrait Painter". Did the artist lodging in his parents' house encourage young William Bartup's interest in portraiture ?

During the 1860s, William Bartup senior ran a baker's shop at 47 Edward Street, Brighton. When the 1861 census was taken, William Bartup junior was not residing in Brighton with his mother and father. In 1861, William Bartup junior is recorded as a lodger at 50 High Street, Uckfield and was entered on the census return as a "Photographer", aged 25 (23). This means that William Bartup junior was one of the first photographers to be recorded in Uckfield.

It appears that William Bartup's photographic career in Uckfield was brief. By 1866, William Bartup junior was back in Brighton and on 14th June 1866, he married Esther Ayling at St Nicholas' Church, Brighton. In the 1866 edition of the Post Office Directory of Sussex, William Bartup, baker of 47 Edward Street, has been joined by another William Bartup, who is listed as a baker at 55 Lavender Street, Brighton. William Bartup junior had apparently abandoned photography and returned to the bakery business. William Bartup's wife Esther died in Brighton in 1868, aged 33. The death of William Bartup, aged 34, was recorded in the First Quarter of 1872.

1851 Census : 15 George Street Gardens, Brighton



William BARTUP Head Baker 34 Wimbledon, Surrey
Lucy BARTUP wife School Mistress 33 Brighton, Sussex
William BARTUP son   13 Brighton, Sussex
Mary Ann BARTUP daughter Scholar 8 Brighton, Sussex
Emma BARTUP daughter Scholar 5 Brighton, Sussex
George BARTUP son Scholar 3 Brighton, Sussex
Ellen BARTUP daughter   2 mths Brighton, Sussex
Archibald STUART Lodger Portrait Painter 36 London,

[ABOVE] Details of the Bartup Family taken from the 1851 Census


Thanks to Sue Perry for providing details of William Bartup's family. Sue is a descendant of Mary Ann Bartup (born 1843, Brighton), a younger sister of William Bartup junior.

Daniel Blagrove (1821-1899)

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 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 were taking daguerreotype portraits in a temporary studio near the Brack Mount, an earthen mound, near Lewes Castle. Daniel Blagrove eventually settled in Lewes and by 1855, he was running a tobacconist's shop at 146 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. 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, Lewes 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. However, in the trade section of Kelly's 1862 Directory for Sussex, Daniel Blagrove is listed as "Photographic Artist" with a studio at 73 High Street, Lewes.

Commercial portrait photography had received a boost with the introduction of the carte-de-visite format. By 1862, the carte-de-visite portrait had become extremely popular and the demand for these small and relatively cheap kept Daniel Blagrove busy at his Lewes studio. 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.

By 1869, Uckfield had its own resident photographer Thomas Cowdrey, who had established a studio at Talbot House in Uckfield's High Street. A small town like Uckfield could not provide enough business for two full-time photographers and so Blagrove closed his branch studio at Uckfield and concentrated on his studio in Lewes after 1870.

Daniel Blagrove operated a photographic studio at 73 High Street, Lewes for about 40 years. From the late 1870s, Blagrove was assisted in the Lewes studio by his children and in 1885 his eldest son Daniel Blagrove junior joined his father to form the firm of Daniel Blagrove & Son.

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. At the death of Daniel Blagrove, his eldest son Daniel Blagrove junior took over the running of the studio at 73 High Street, Lewes.


To read a full account of Daniel Blagrove's life and career, click on the link below :

Daniel Blagrove & Sons of Lewes


[ABOVE] The reverse of a carte-de-visite portrait showing the trade plate of Daniel Blagrove of Lewes and Uckfield.

[ABOVE] A studio portrait of a man holding a book (c1867). The reverse of this carte reads "D. BLAGROVE, Photographer, LEWES & UCKFIELD".

 [ABOVE] A studio portrait of a seated woman (c1867).The reverse of this carte reads "D. BLAGROVE, Photographer, LEWES & UCKFIELD".

[ABOVE] A studio portrait of a seated man (c1867). The reverse of this carte reads "D. BLAGROVE, Photographer, LEWES & UCKFIELD".

Thomas Cowdrey (c1820-1880)     Thomas James Cowdrey (1844-1890)

[ABOVE] A studio portrait of a seated man by Thomas Cowdrey (c1868). This carte-de-visite was produced at Cowdrey's Brighton studio at 64 North Street shortly before he moved to Uckfield.

[ABOVE] An advertisement for Thomas Cowdrey, Landscape and Portrait Photographer of Talbot House, High Street, Uckfield, published by the Eastbourne Chronicle on 28th August 1869.

Thomas Cowdrey was born in Slinfold, Sussex, around 1820. (The Christening of "Thomas Cowdry", son of James and Charlotte Cowdry, was recorded in a Slinfold baptism register on 7th July 1820). Thomas Cowdrey moved to Brighton and in 1843 he married Elizabeth Gibbs (born 1822, Brighton), the daughter of Emma and Edmund Gibbs. [ The marriage of Thomas Cowdrey and Elizabeth Gibbs was registered in Brighton during the Third Quarter of 1843]. The couple's first child, Thomas James Cowdrey, was born in Brighton during Second Quarter of 1844. A second child, a daughter named Emma Elizabeth Cowdrey, was born in 1846 [birth registered in Brighton during the First Quarter of 1846].

Thomas Cowdrey senior began his business career as a tobacconist and wine merchant, establishing two shops in Brighton's Western Road. When Cowdrey was made bankrupt in 1857, he had to find employment as a manager for another wine merchant based in Queen's Road. Towards the end of 1860, Thomas Cowdrey set himself up as a photographer at 68 Queen's Road, a building next door to the wine shop he was managing.

In the 1861 census, Thomas Cowdrey is recorded as a thirty-nine year old photographer at 68 Queen's Road, Brighton. In December 1861, Thomas Cowdrey was declared insolvent, but he managed to hold on to his photographic studio at 68 Queens Road until about 1865. By 1866, Cowdrey had moved to a studio at 64 North Street, Brighton. Cowdrey was based at the North Street studio for about another three years.

By the Summer of 1869, Thomas Cowdrey had moved to Uckfield with his wife and son. In August 1869, Thomas Cowdrey was advertising his new studio at Talbot House, High Street, Uckfield. (See the illustration on the left). In the 1871 census, Thomas Cowdrey is shown living in Uckfield's High Street with his wife Elizabeth and Thomas, his 25 year old son. Thomas Cowdrey is entered on the census return as a "Photographer", aged 50 and his son, Thomas James Cowdrey, gives his occupation as "Photographer's Assistant".

Thomas Cowdrey senior worked as a photographer in Uckfield until his death in 1880, at the age of 59. [ Death registered in Uckfield during the Fourth Quarter of 1880].

Cowdrey's son, Thomas James Cowdrey, left Uckfield for London and at the time of the 1881 census he was lodging at 15 Story Street, London. In the census return, Thomas J. Cowdrey is described as an unmarried photographer, aged 37. James Thomas Cowdrey died in South London in 1890 at the age of 46. [Death registered in Lambeth during the Fourth Quarter of 1890]

Click below for a detailed account of Thomas Cowdrey's career in Brighton and more examples of his photographic work :

Thomas Cowdrey, Brighton Photographer

John Frisby (1843-1929)

[ABOVE] A photograph taken around 1887, showing John Frisby (the man on the left with the dark beard ) standing outside the entrance to The Red Lion Inn in Kilsby, with two of his children, Frank and Helena, his father Samuel Frisby, and his step mother Mrs Elizabeth Frisby. Samuel Frisby (1812-1888,) John's father, was the landlord of The Red Lion Inn in Kilsby, Northamptonshire, from about 1841 until 1888, the year of his death. John Frisby was born in the Red Lion Inn on 16th August 1843, and lived there for the first twenty years or so of his life. [PHOTO : Courtesy of  Jean McLaughlin]


John Frisby was born on 16th August 1843 at Kilsby, Northamptonshire, a village situated about 5 miles south-east of Rugby. John Frisby was the son of Elizabeth and Samuel Frisby (born 1812, Naseby, Northants.) an innkeeper who ran The Red Lion in Kilsby between 1841 and 1888, the year of his death.

In November 1866, at the age of twenty-three, John Frisby moved down to London where he opened a provisions store. In 1866, John Frisby was living at 61 Mortimer Street, off London's Regent Street. When he had lived in Kilsby, John had entered into a relationship with a local woman named Sarah Woodford (born 25th January 1841, Kilsby, Northants). On 29th January 1867, John Frisby married Sarah at All Souls' Church in Langham Place, London. John and Sarah settled in Marylebone, where their first four children were born. The first child was stillborn in 1868, but a son arrived the following year. This child was Ernest James Frisby, who was born on 26th February 1869. A daughter named Frances Amelia Frisby was born on 31st March 1871, followed by another son Horace Mortimer Frisby, who was born on 11th February 1873.

After the birth of their second son, John and Sarah Frisby returned to Northamptonshire and had set up home in Crick, a village not far from John and Sarah's native village of Kilsby. John Frisby ran a newsagent business in Crick for the next six years. During their stay in Crick, there were three more additions to the Frisby family - Gertrude Mary Frisby (born 6th June 1875), Frank Simmons Frisby (born 17th May 1877) and Frederick Samuel Frisby (born 6th December 1879).

By the time of the 1881 census was carried out on 3rd April 1881, John Frisby had become the landlord of The George Inn, a public house in his home village of Kilsby. John Frisby, his wife Sarah, and five of their six children are shown living at The George Inn when the 1881 census was taken ( Twelve year old Ernest was away visiting relatives in London ). John Frisby is entered on the census return as a "Licensed Victualler", aged 37. There were only two public houses in Kilsby in 1881 - The George and The Red Lion, and the landlord of the second inn was John's 68 year old father, Samuel Frisby. A seventh child, Helena Elizabeth Frisby was born at Kilsby on 8th December 1881. John Frisby and his family then moved on to Rugby, where he operated as a grocer. It was while the family were living at 4 William Street, Rugby, that John's youngest son, Frederick died. The death of Frederick Samuel Frisby took place on 10th January 1885.


John Frisby in Uckfield

Leaving his wife Sarah and their nine year old daughter Helena at the family home in Kilsby, John Frisby travelled down to Sussex. When the 1891 census was taken, John Frisby was lodging at a house in Framfield Road, Uckfield. On the 1891 census return, John Frisby is recorded as one of two boarders at Mrs Mary J. Smith's boarding house in the row of residential buildings known as "Lime Villas". Forty-seven year old John Frisby is described on the census return as a "Photographer (Neither Employer or Employed)". During the period up to 1885, Frisby does not appear to have worked as a professional photographer, but he may have supplemented his income by taking photographs. It is possible that Frisby became an itinerant or travelling photographer after 1885.

John Frisby was later joined in Uckfield by his wife and young daughter. By 1895, John Frisby had set himself up as "Landscape and Portrait Photographer" in Framfield Road, Uckfield. By the time John Frisby had established his photography business in Framfield Road and had found a permanent home in Uckfield, most of his surviving children (with the exception of young Helena) were of working age. Ernest Frisby, John Frisby's eldest surviving son, had joined the Marines in 1886.  Horace Frisby found work as an Assurance Agent in Tunbridge Wells and Gertrude Frisby became a domestic servant in Hove on the Sussex coast. John Frisby's eldest daughter Frances Amelia Frisby married Alfred Edward Webb in Uckfield towards the end of 1899. Frances gave birth to a daughter named Hilda Frances Webb early in 1901. Horace Mortimer Frisby married Hephzibah Annie Grover in Tunbridge Wells in 1900. Hephzibah gave birth to a baby boy, named Ernest Frederick Frisby, at the end of 1900.

[ABOVE] A portrait of John Frisby (1843-1929), the Uckfield photographer, photographed around 1890. [PHOTO : Courtesy of  Jean McLaughlin]

[ABOVE] The Uckfield photographer John Frisby pictured with his camera and tripod as he leaves his house in Framfield Road (c1910). Could the young girl walking behind Frisby and carrying his photographic plates be his grand daughter Hilda Frances Webb?  Was the photographer who captured this image of Frisby on his way to a job, be his former pupil in photography, George Bingham Towner ?


[ABOVE] The Frisby family photographed in the back garden of their house in Uckfield around 1895. [PHOTO : Courtesy of  Jean McLaughlin]

BACK ROW (left to right) : Horace Frisby (born 1873); Gertrude Frisby (born 1875); Ernest Frisby (born 1869); Frances Frisby (born 1871); Frank Frisby (born 1877).

MIDDLE ROW (left to right) : unidentified woman (possibly Horace's future wife, Hephzibah Annie Grover ); John Frisby (born 1843); Sarah Frisby (born 1841). AT THE FRONT (sitting on the rug) : Helena Frisby (born 1881).

The Frisby Family

Ernest James Frisby (born 1869, London) joined the Marines in 1886 at the age of seventeen. At the age of thirty-two, Ernest Frisby was killed in action at Tientsin during the Boxer Rebellion (aka The Third China War 1900-1901 ). Ernest was a single man at the time of his death.

Frances ("Fanny") Amelia Frisby (born 1871, London) married Alfred Edward Webb in Uckfield towards the end of 1899. Frances gave birth to a daughter named Hilda Frances Webb early in 1901.

Horace Mortimer Frisby (born 1873, London) worked as an Assurance Agent. In 1900, at Tunbridge Wells, Horace married Hephzibah Annie Grover (born 1869, Uckfield), the daughter of Eliza and Isaac Grover, Uckfield's Post Master. The couple settled in Tunbridge Wells and Hephzibah gave birth to a baby boy named Ernest Frederick Frisby at the end of 1900.

Gertrude Mary Frisby (born 1875, Crick, Northamptonshire) worked as a domestic servant in Hove, Sussex, until her marriage in 1902.

Frank Frisby (born 1877, Crick, Northamptonshire ) was working as a bricklayer in Portsmouth, Hampshire, at the time of the 1901 census.

Helena Elizabeth Frisby (born 1881, Kilsby, Northamptonshire ) was married in Uckfield towards the end of 1905.





Views of Possingworth Manor by John Frisby

[ABOVE] Two photographic views of  Possingworth Manor, Cross-in-Hand, Waldron, by John Frisby of Uckfield (c1900). Designed by the architect Matthew Digby Wyatt, Possingworth Manor was built at Cross-in-Hand in Sussex in the late 1860s for Louis Huth (1821-1905), the Director of a large insurance company and a well-known art collector.


[ABOVE] A portrait of the Uckfield photographer John Frisby taken towards the end of his long life. John Frisby died in 1929, when he was in his mid eighties.

When the 1901 census was taken, John Frisby was recorded at No.1 Bird-in-Eye Terrace, Framfield Road, Uckfield. By this date, all of Frisby's surviving children had flown the family nest, however, on the evening of the census, his married daughter Mrs Frances Amelia Webb was visiting her parents' home with her four month old baby girl, Hilda. John Frisby is described on the census return as a "Photographer (own account)", aged 57. In this period, John Frisby was the only photographer residing in Uckfield. It appears that William Hughes (also known as William Bayliss ) who had worked as a photographer in Uckfield from around 1884, left the town around 1894, shortly before John Frisby set up his photography business in Framfield Road. Frisby had no competitors in Uckfield itself until George Bingham Towner gave up his job as a postman and established a photographic studio in Harcourt Road around 1906. The emergence of George Bingham Towner as Frisby's main business rival is not without irony, as John Frisby had instructed George in photography back in the 1890s when the young Post Office employee was in his teens.

John Frisby was primarily an "outdoor photographer" and he became known for his photographic views of the grand houses in the area around Uckfield. Frisby did occasionally produce portraits, but, significantly, the advertising printed on the reverse of his cabinet format portraits proclaimed John Frisby as a "Landscape Photographer". Frisby was more likely to be out and about taking photographs, rather than producing formal portraits in a conventional studio setting. Locals remember seeing Frisby walking with his camera and equipment from his house in Bird-in-Eye Terrace, Framfield Road to the Alma Arms Inn at the end of the road, where he stabled his pony and trap.

In the early 1900s, John Frisby became acquainted with a solicitor named Charles Dawson (1864-1916). Dawson was a partner in a firm of solicitors based in Uckfield, but he devoted much of his spare time to archaeology and fossil hunting. When Dawson decided to write a history of Hastings Castle, he employed Frisby to photograph specially constructed models of the castle. Frisby's photographs were later used to illustrate Dawson's two volume history, Hastings Castle, published in 1909. After Charles Dawson "discovered" parts of a human skull, believed to be 500,000 years old, at gravel pits near Piltdown, he commissioned Frisby to make a photographic record of the excavations that followed in 1912. Frisby later issued the photographs as a series of postcards.( See "John Frisby and the Piltdown man Hoax", below ).

After 1910, John Frisby is listed as a photographer at 129 Framfield Road, Uckfield. Frisby was still based at this address in Framfield Road at the end of the First World War. In 1918, Frisby, who was now aged seventy-five, was still working as a professional photographer in Uckfield.

John Frisby died in 1929, when he was in his mid eighties.

Cabinet Pictures by John Frisby

[ABOVE] A cabinet portrait of a dog by John Frisby of Framfield Road, Uckfield. (c1900)

[ABOVE] Details of John Frisby, Landscape Photographer of Framfield Road, Uckfield, as shown on the reverse of a cabinet photograph (c1900).



[ABOVE] A cabinet portrait of a bearded man by John Frisby of Framfield Road, Uckfield. (c1898)

John Frisby and the Piltdown Man Hoax

[ABOVE LEFT] A photograph by John Frisby of Uckfield, showing excavations at the Piltdown gravels in 1912. Standing centre left in the picture is the white-bearded figure of Arthur Smith Woodward and working in the trench on the right is Charles Dawson, the local solicitor who had "discovered" the skull of "Piltdown Man".[TOP RIGHT] Arthur Smith Woodward and Uckfield photographer John Frisby inspect the excavations at Piltdown in 1912. Arthur Smith Woodward was a palaeontologist and Keeper of Geology at the Natural History Museum in South Kensington.
John Frisby received some national attention as a photographer when he became associated with the discovery of fragments of a supposedly pre-historic human skull in gravel beds near Piltdown, about five miles north-west of Uckfield. The man behind the discovery, Charles Dawson (1864-1916), a local solicitor and amateur palaeontologist, suggested that the skull was from the "dawn of man" and possibly 500,000 years old. Dawson lived in Lewes, but was a partner in a firm of solicitors based in Uckfield, so he turned to local photographer John Frisby to record the site of his "discovery".

The first fragments of the Piltdown skull were apparently found in 1908 by estate workers digging in the grounds of Barkham Manor at Piltdown. The skull fragments were passed to Charles Dawson, a solicitor who, as the Steward of Barkham Manor, represented the owners of the estate. Dawson, who was keenly interested in archaeology and palaeontology, searched the site and gathered up more pieces of the skull. Dawson eventually contacted Arthur Smith Woodward (1864-1944), who was a respected palaeontologist and Keeper of Geology at the British Museum (Natural History Museum) in London, and advised Woodward of his discoveries at Piltdown. In May 1912, Woodward travelled down to Piltdown and examined the gravel pit with Dawson. Further "discoveries" were made at the site, including an ape-like jawbone, more human skull fragments and fossilized animal teeth. Charles Dawson commissioned John Frisby to make a photographic record of the original site of his discovery and to take a series of photographs showing the excavations at Piltdown. Frisby photographed Charles Dawson and Arthur Smith Woodward searching for human fossils at the Piltdown site.

Arthur Smith Woodward and Dawson concluded that the skull and the jawbone found at Piltdown belonged to the same creature - an ape-like man who represented the "missing link" between apes and humans. In November 1912, Woodward and Dawson officially presented their findings to a meeting of the Geological Society of London. The skull bones discovered at Piltdown were presented as a previously unknown species and given the name "Dawn Man". This ape-like human, dubbed "Piltdown Man", attracted a lot of public interest and, from around 1913, John Frisby published his original photographs as a series of picture postcards.

It was not until 1953 that a team of researchers at the British Museum conducted tests on the "Piltdown Man" skull and concluded that it was a fake. These experts revealed that these supposed remains of an early hominid were, in fact, an ancient human skull that had been combined with the modified jawbone of a modern ape. The scientific community had been the victim of a hoax.

[ABOVE] "SEARCHING FOR THE PILTDOWN MAN" - A picture postcard produced by John Frisby of Uckfield, showing Charles Dawson, wearing a flat cap, on the left, and the bearded figure of Arthur Smith Woodward, on the right, sifting through the gravel at Piltdown looking for fossil remains. The bald-headed man with the dark moustache in the oval portrait inset at the bottom left of the picture is Charles Dawson, the solicitor and amateur archaeologist who claimed to have discovered fragments of a skull belonging to "Piltdown Man", supposedly 500,000 years old. Frisby issued a series of  picture postcards featuring photographs of the excavations at Piltdown around 1914.


Acknowledgements & Sources

Thanks to Jean McLaughlin, a great grand daughter of John Frisby, for supplying details about the Frisby family and some of the family photographs featured on this page. Thanks also to The Uckfield and District Preservation Society. Sources : Around Uckfield by Uckfield and District Preservation Society (Nonsuch, 1997); Uckfield : Portrait of a Wealden Town by Brian Hart & David Nunn (Millgate Publishing Company 1988); Bygone Uckfield by Betty Turner and Lilian Fuller (Phillimore & Co, 1988).


Click here to go to : Professional Photographers in Uckfield (H-Z)

Click here to go to : Directory of Photographic Studios in North Wealden 1860-1910

Click here to go to : A History of Photography in Uckfield

Click here to return to home page