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The Chapel Of St Mary-In-The-Castle

The Chapel Of St Mary-In-The-Castle

Photographer: Frith, Francis (1822-1898)

Medium: Photographic print

Date: 1864

Shelfmark: Cup.410.g.108

Item number: 13

Length: 11

Width: 16.3

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Photograph

“Have you forgotten that we are sitting in the arbour on the Castle lawn? Turn to Ross: he says of the Castle – “In 1824, the interior was excavated, and the ruins of the chapel, after a burial of some centuries, again saw the light; and its arch, which is now the ornament of the castle, rose from its ruins. The length of the chapel is 110 feet. The chapter-house, deanery, and prebendal houses, with other offices, were discovered, also several stone coffins with skeletons in them. The chapel has every appearance of having been destroyed by fire.” I was pleased with the arch. I photographed the arch. It ‘rose from the ruins’ – an arch expression. Shall I tell? Knight’s penny guide-book laughs thus at the shilling guide-books:- “The arch that presents so different an appearance to all else about it is of recent manufacture, or, as the guide-books oddly call it, restoration; it was built up, in fact, out of fragments of the old castle.’ Come along!"

Descriptive letterpress by Francis Frith from his book 'The Gossiping Photographer at Hastings'

This view by Francis Frith (1822-1898) of the ruins of St Mary's Chapel at Hastings Castle in East Sussex is one of sixteen photographs of Hastings, St Leonards, Winchelsea and Rye 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 Frith adopts in his travelogue of the 19th-century seaside resort and its sister towns.

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