(Arthur William) Henry Wright


Arundel High Street

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Photographer, who published small numbers of real photographic cards of Kingston-by-Sea, and also of Arundel and its neighbourhood. The photographs on the Kingston cards are sepia tinted and have narrow white borders. Captions, when present, are hand stamped in purple ink centrally in the border under the photographs. Most cards are stamped on the back in the same purple ink: "H. Wright, Photo, Kingston-by-Sea, Brighton", but a few have a properly printed label. Yet others are labelled "H. Wright, Photo, Madehurst, Arundel". Subjects include the Church of St Julian and a view westwards along the coast road towards Shoreham with the lighthouse in the distance. A card of the Church has been found that was posted in December 1907. Another card, stamped "Kingston House, 11. 11. 08" at the base of the photograph, shows an entrance driveway with a temporary ceremonial arch bearing the words "God Bless Bride & Bridegroom", evidently constructed as a welcome for newlyweds. A second card shows a different driveway and arch decorated with the message "Long life Health & Happiness". A Kingston school pageant on Empire Day 1909 is the subject of another card. Of uncertain date is a skilful portrait of a jolly tramp with the enigmatic caption "Prof Messam says the world aint foind". Three other Kingston cards have been found with 1910 and 1911 postmarks.

Wright also published restricted numbers of both sepia and black and white real photographic cards of Arundel, Dale Park, Eartham, Madehurst, Halnaker, Binsted, Bury, Boxgrove, Barnham and Slindon, as well as 20-30 cards of Walberton. With few exceptions, these have narrow white borders like the Kingston cards. Captions on some cards are individually handstamped in purple ink on or under the photographs; on others they were evidently written in small blocky capitals on the negatives, perhaps with the aid of a small hand-held printing device. Most cards have "H. Wright, Photo, Madehurst, Arundel" printed on the back in green or black ink, but at least one card of Walberton and another of Binsted have "H. Wright, Kingston-by-Sea, Brighton" hand stamped in purple ink on the back. A few cards embossed "H. Wright, Madehurst, Arundel" have also been seen. A fine card of Barnham Mill has "H. Wright Madehurst" written across the photograph. Yet other cards are anonymous. On many cards the correspondence space is almost entirely given over to a decorative flower design (sometimes initialled E.W.J.) incorporating a printed message, such as "Best Wishes, "With every kind thought" or "A Merry Xmas". Little room is left even for a signature.

A card of Goodwood Pheasantry was posted in 1904, 1905 postmarks have been seen on a card of Walberton and a Dale Park card, and 1907 postmarks on two cards of Madehurst and another of Eartham. As far as can determined, all Wright's cards were published before the First World War. Two fine cards of Arundel show the High Street and the London Road winding its way up the Downs through a sunlit stand of giant beeches. Striking a more mundane note is a card of Hartley and Nephew's shop at Walberton with the proprietor standing in the doorway and customers (or more probably his family) grouped outside. Some of the Walberton and Slindon cards have fake clouds added in a rather theatrical manner.

Almost certainly the H. Wright who published the cards was Arthur William Henry Wright, who was born at Arundel in 1858. By the time he had left school and started work he had shortened his name to Henry Wright. When the 1901 census was held he was living at Eartham, a short distance from Madehurst, but nowhere near Kingston. Already a photographer, he was working on his own account. His wife, Annie, maiden name Booker, was a teacher. She was about the same age as Henry and came from Walberton, which helps explain why this quiet village features on many of the cards. What connection Wright had with Kingston has not been determined, but presumably a friend or relative lived there. The Wrights had previously lived at Felpham, near Bognor, and it was there that their daughter, Dorothy, was born on September 8, 1887. At the time Henry was working as a butcher.

When the 1911 census was held, Annie Wright was visiting her sisters Ellen and Fanny Booker and brother William Booker, who lived together in a house called Ingleside at Walberton. The two sisters ran a dairy; her brother worked as a carpenter. No entry for Henry Wright has been found in the census.

Very different in character from the cards that carry Wright's name are some even scarcer real photographic cards with round cornered photographs surrounded by unusually wide white borders (see Gallery). The captions are written in a bold flowing script. Subjects include charcoal burners at Madehurst, oxen at Dale Park and views of country houses and farms in the area north-west of Arundel. A 1909 postmark has been found. All the cards are anonymous, but the area depicted features on many of Wright's cards, and it is conceivable that he or his wife was the publisher.

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