Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A unknown school near Hitchin

An unknown School near Hitchin circa 1875
Click here for larger or very large image
A school with about 60 pupils, mainly girls, with teachers, lined up outside an unknown school. An excellent case for the Rogues Gallery - where the aim is to try and identify the missing details - If we knew the school it could well be possible to identify the head mistress. And perhaps some one who is descended from one of the girls has a copy and can identify one or more of the children's faces.

It was taken by a professional photographer (as judged by the inscription on the back) called G. A. Nichols, of Croydon Road, Station Road, Hitchin. Initially I was unable to identify him but subsequent research (see comments) has identified him as George Albert Nichols - who must have been in Hitchin between 1871 and 1881 - giving the date for the photograph of around 1875. 


  1. Did The Butler's Daughter Do It?
    As you confidently state "he" I take it you have been able to rule out Gertrude Annie Nicholls (1868-1892)?
    Photography is arguably the one profession where a woman (Julia Margaret Cameron) was foremost among the pioneers. Anthony

  2. Your George Nicholls (main entry) did not give a middle name on the marriage register although his wife did. His profession is given as oil and color (sic) manufacturer. Since he was living at Conduit Street Islington at age 25 my Gertrude Annie who died 1892 aged 24 seems an equally good candidate. Anthony

  3. Perhaps I was being a bit sexist in suggesting the photographer was male - but your suggestion led me to look further afield and I think I have got the right man ...

    In 1871 George Albert Nichols (31, born Cambridge) was a photographic artist living at Southbridge Road, Croydon with his wife Elizabeth (28, born Paddington). I don't know what happened but in 1881 and 1891 he was living in Stamford, Lincolnshire, as a photographer, with wife Rebecca. He died in 1897, and his wife continued as a photographer in Stamford in 1901. It is quite possible that between 1871 and 1881 he moved from Croydon to Stamford via Hitchin. He may only have been there a short time - but the back of the card suggests a professional approach - rather than a beginner just setting up in business for the first time.

  4. [I got the following anonymous comment]
    Perhaps its not a photo of a school as most of the kids are girls perhaps its a piture of the orphan home for girls

    Hitchin St. Saviour's: The Almshouses and Orphanage was founded by the Rev. George Gainsford, by deed 14 August 1869, whereby 3 roods of land were conveyed to trustees for the purpose of building thereon almshouses and an orphan home for girls. In 1879 the founder transferred to theofficial trustees a sum of £1,000 consols for the support and maintenance of the institution, which wassubsequently augmented by gifts of Francis A. D.Radcliffe, Mrs. A. E. Moreton and Mrs. Burbidgeand others. The endowment fund now consists of£1,307 16s. 1d. consols, producing £32 13s. 8d.yearly.

    From: 'Hitchin: Priory church and charities', A History of the County of Hertford: volume 3 (1912), pp. 12-21. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=43570

    In fact the orphanage was only for 24 girls, by there was also a school associated with St Saviour's which had a size which could have had a class of about 60 girls. Have posted more details on main site but don't thing the phot fits that school either.


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