As this is the sixth outing for this series of posts let’s start with something different.
This is another aspect of the secret life of postcards – the writing on the back. JH (?) is sending the 1906 version of an instant message. With two deliveries a day in some places it could be fairly close to instant. “Monday’s coming too fast for me now. Had a ripping time this year. Plenty to see. Very hot here today.”
Quicker by telegraph of course but you probably wouldn’t use a telegram for such an inconsequential message. And you wouldn’t get the picture along with it.
A coloured version of a photo of St Luke’s Church in Sydney Street. More from JH later.
One of my great pleasures with picture postcards is the details, where you might see a lively street scene, the early numbers of Kensington High Street with an unexpected close up of a thoughtful young man.
You can see another view of two of the same buildings below, the London and County Bank (“pungently Burgundian” according to the Survey of London, one of my favourites of their pithy descriptions – I was once asked if it had ever been a church. Built as a bank I’m afraid, but you can’t help speculating about a little know Cathar sect which somehow made it to London and was the scene of some sinister events..well I can’t anyway once the suggestion arises)
Next to the bank was Madame Kate Ker-Lane’s court dress emporium.
You can see the ornate lettering better in close up.
And is that Madame Kate at the window on the left? The presence of the two policemen indicates that some event was happening that day and a procession might be about to pass by.
Off the high street, a little way up Campden Hill a more ordinary scene. Campden Hill Court, on Holland Street. Flats are available…
A flower cart, a woman pushing a pram and a lamp post. The photo crops down into a nice composition.
Close by is Airlie Gardens. Looking up at the glassed in room above the porch (a conservatory?) you would like to see another figure looking down at the photographer.
There is the hint of someone or something at that window but you can’t really be sure. It could just be some kind of ornament.
But that pile of cases must have a story to tell. Someone moving in? Or out? Or off on a trip?
For the start of a journey you might go down to the station, the entrance to the arcade just where it is today.
Plenty of travellers on their way in or out, or pausing at the entrance.
Here are some local travellers in Church Street, taking the bus.
A crowded upper deck.
If all the modes of transport were crowded with people, you could stroll to Kensington Gardens.
A trio of friends taking a leisurely walk near the fountains.
As well as zooming in on postcards you can also zoom out.
Below, a woman strides out on a quiet street, a typical day in Kensington.
Look at the wider picture though and you can see she is in Philbeach Gardens. The metal spire of St Cuthbert’s Church rises above the houses, and a section of the Great Wheel at the Earls Court Exhibition.
While we’re in that neck of the woods what about this unlikely view in the Cromwell Road area?
A motley group of people stand in the middle of an apparently deserted road. On the back of the card a message for a younger relative of the sender.
Master Paddie Law, of Oswestry gets the distressing news that HM(WM?) has been digging in his garden
Shall we get back to our friend JH?
Here is another of those coloured postcards he favoured, showing the statue of Carlyle in the gardens by the embankment on Cheyne Walk, with a curious young boy looking at the photographer.
What did JH have to say?
“Having a fine time. Better than doing sheets(?) all over London every day. Just what Richardson would like over at Putney seeing the crews practice”. For the University Boat Race I assume. A pleasant way to spend an afternoon in suburban London, at the end of which you can send a postcard to Mr Joyce in Brighton.
I can’t remember the last time I sent a postcard, although I can recall the pleasure of receiving some inconsequential words from a friend. No need to overdo the comparison but this was definitely a form of Edwardian social media.
The point of this series is the details found in the pictures themselves, but if it is possible to see the message on the back (some of the postcards are glued down unfortunately) it’s always worth having a look.