The Strand Gate, Winchelsea
Photographer: Frith, Francis (1822-1898)
Medium: Photographic print
“Holloa! What is that amongst the trees? Why we are passing through a fine old ruin of a gateway! – up a gentle ascent between an avenue of trees, on the right a mansion with park-like grounds; fields sprinkled over with cottages and ivy-grown gables; and a forward vista of something more like a village, but still most delightfully spacious, - we have been travelling for a quarter of a mile through the “cinque port” of Winchelsea without knowing it! I like this: I shall not soon forget…thy sturdy tower-flanked Strand-gate, like one eye of a stereoscope, with a picture of the town of Rye in its centre…”
Descriptive letterpress by Francis Frith from his book 'The Gossiping Photographer at Hastings'
This view by Francis Frith (1822-1898) of the ivy-clad Strand Gate at Winchelsea in East Sussex is one of sixteen photographs of views in Hastings, St Leonards, Rye and Winchelsea illustrating his book ‘The Gossiping Photographer at Hastings’, published in 1864. Frith was a pioneer in the field of travel photography, beginning his career with three trips to Egypt and the Holy Land between 1856 and 1860. In 1859 he founded his own publishing firm in Reigate, Surrey, which issued albums and postcards of views throughout Britain. The firm was very successful and became the largest of its kind in the 19th century, continuing to be run as a family business until 1971. In Frith’s first album, ‘Egypt and Palestine Photographed and Described’, he also wrote the text that accompanied his photographs and this form of dual authorship is continued in ‘The Gossiping Photographer at Hastings’. Its text is notable for the gently satirical attitude which he adopts in his travelogue of the English seaside resort and its sister towns.