Friday, April 13, 2012

Group Pose Tilting into the Future: Musings on Old Family Photographs

This is a family photograph from 1952. (I seem to be revisiting the 1950s of late.) My maternal grandfather on the right with a jacket over his arm, his younger brother Ivan beside him, my great-uncle's son beside him on holiday from Cambridge, and then two older ladies unknown to me, possibly sisters of my great-aunt on the extreme left. This photograph seems to evoke an Agatha Christie group of characters to me. Miss Marple is there I am sure. They are on an outing in the Peak District not far from their origins of Macclesfield. They have obviously stopped at The Marquis of Granby Hotel for refreshment before continuing on their sightseeing venture with a stop at Chatsworth. Who was behind the camera I wondered.

The name of the Hotel derives from General John Manners, Marquess of Granby, who had many, many pubs and hotels named after him in the late 18th Century. This particular one, however, evolved out of an old farm and later public house or coaching inn and was renamed the Marquis of Granby in 1880 or 1881, a name which may seem like a nostalgic choice, or perhaps one that would provide a certain veiled historic patina. Something like a mantle to bolster its prestige.

Looking at the photograph, all my relatives now long deceased, I began to wonder if at least the Hotel still existed. A quick search and I discovered that the answer was yes, and no. It seems after many years of operation, and latterly as a meeting place for two Masonic Lodges in the area, it closed and became derelict, no doubt a sad sight to all who had memories of having visited the establishment. A Google street view revealed an even sadder sight, as most of the Hotel has been torn down, leaving the original building bereft of its details:

View Larger Map

There does seem to be some recent development and a new Marquis of Granby brought to life. Perhaps it has been completed. And life goes on.

My relatives did get to visit Chatsworth on what looks like a lovely day. Mygrandfather must be the photographer of this one as my other great-uncle, Sydney, stands to the right, the group pose tilting into the future.

Chatsworth of course has stood the test of time. Presently there is a retrospective exhibitionof sculptures by Anthony Caro on the grounds of Chatsworth, sculpture that would have left my relatives in 1952 with looks of disbelief and possible dismay, but life moves along as it does. It is interesting to think that while my relatives were basking in the glorious sun while viewing the grounds and classical sculptures of Chatsworth, Anthony Caro was working as a part-time assistant to Henry Moore in the village of Much Hadham, Hertfordshire. Old and new ever in juxtaposition.

No comments: