Wiltshire

Stonehenge 1875 family photo may be earliest at monument

Routh family photo from 1875 Image copyright Routh family
Image caption The photograph of the Routh family enjoying a day out at Stonehenge in 1875 was sent in by descendants

An 1875 photograph of a family dressed in finery enjoying a day out at Stonehenge may be the earliest such snap taken at the monument.

English Heritage asked people to send in their pictures to mark 100 years of public ownership of the stones.

After sifting through more than 1,000 images historians said they believed the photograph of Isabel, Maud and Robert Routh was the oldest.

It will be part of a new exhibition of personal photos titled Your Stonehenge.

1875 Routh family photo showing the family enjoying a picnic Image copyright Routh family
Image caption Members of the Routh family enjoying a picnic with Champagne at Stonehenge

One picture shows the group sitting on the stones with a picnic rug and what appears to be a bottle of Champagne.

In another, some of them are in a horse-drawn carriage.

"They're wearing fashionable outfits and hats," said English Heritage historian Susan Greaney.

"Right up until the 1920s and '30s people did dress up for days out like this, in their Sunday best, suits and hats."

John and his Aunt Nell, probably in 1929 Image copyright Nan Noble
Image caption This photo by Nan Noble is of her brother John and Aunt Nell. She said the stones were "our private playground" where they played tag and hide-and-seek
Women in 1932 standing in front of Stonehenge Image copyright Richard Bridgland
Image caption Women in 1932 dressed up for a day out at the monument

The exhibition shows how photography has changed - illustrated by "the way that people pose" and how "their faces have got closer to the camera until they are taking a picture of themselves more than they are of Stonehenge", said Ms Greaney.

English Heritage is now asking people to get in touch if they know of an earlier family snap at Stonehenge.

The earliest known photograph of Stonehenge, not featuring a family, is thought to date from 1853 - 22 years earlier.

Richard Woodman-Bailey in the 1950s looking at his father's drawing board at Stonehenge Image copyright Richard Woodman-Bailey
Image caption Richard Woodman-Bailey visited Stonehenge during the school holidays in the 1950s when his father was the senior architect responsible for ancient monuments in England and Wales and took personal charge of the work at Stonehenge
The Oliver family in 1962 Image copyright Michael Oliver
Image caption The Olivers from Cornwall on their annual camping holiday in 1962 - Michael, Robert with Teddy, Mum and Carolyn all "dressed in our finest camping clothes and Clarks sandals"
Suzie Deaves' family in 1967 Image copyright Suzie Deaves
Image caption Suzie Deaves' family was able to walk around and sit on the stones in 1967
Woman at Stonehenge in 1970 Image copyright Lorna and Clive Tomkins
Image caption This picture was taken in 1970 when access to the monument was still open
Photo from 1993 of a group of bikers at the monument Image copyright Roy Poynting
Image caption Bikers enjoying a day at Stonehenge in 1993

The most recent photo in the exhibition was taken by renowned photographer and guest curator of the exhibition, Martin Parr, at the 2019 Autumn Equinox.

It features an unknown couple kissing while taking a selfie against the backdrop of the stones.

Mr Parr chose 10 of the images in the exhibition and said he hoped to track down the couple in his picture.

He said the photographs people sent in "really show what the stones mean to people and how our relationship with a site like Stonehenge has changed and yet stayed the same through time".

Couple taking a selfie while kissing Image copyright Martin Parr
Image caption Photographer Martin Parr hopes to track down the couple in this photo he took earlier this year

Your Stonehenge - 150 years of personal photos runs from 12 December to late August 2020.

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