The Sleeping Photographer: Belvoir Castle
With the permission of the current Duchess of Rutland, I photographed the Belvoir
Castle estate in Leicestershire throughout 2018 and 2019.
My third great-grandfather F. W. Broadhead was a British artist and photographer during the Victorian era, active in Leicester between 1869 and 1900. He served as photographer to His Grace the 6th Duke of Rutland until his death in 1888. He continued to create portraits of the Manners family as well as royal visitors - including the Prince of Wales and separately Princess Beatrice with Prince Henry of Battenberg. Broadhead also created a survey of interiors and several other views of the castle and gardens that were published in a souvenir guide, exhibited and used as illustrations in periodicals. F. W. Broadhead’s appointment as photographer to the 1st Volunteer Battalion, Leicestershire Regiment would have been what brought him to the estate for annual encampments that took place on Blackberry Hill.
The work explores a familial curiosity with my paternal origins, and the process of creating my own original depictions of the interiors, gardens and wilderness that my ancestor once witnessed and captured using the technology of his time. Themes of temporality, history and memory are prevalent in this work that engages with notions of the archive and the meaning of photography, both during my ancestor’s time and now. The result reconnects the vestigial remains of a time that does not have a generational overlap with the present.