Marjorie Baker


Cat House, Henfield (a Mary Bell card).

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Photographer, Henfield. Marjorie Baker was born at Henfield on November 13, 1912. Having trained at a studio in Worthing, she began work as a portrait photographer in Henfield in the 1930s. She married Stephen Tidey in 1940, and they had two sons. Over her many decades as a photographer at Henfield she accumulated an immense library of negatives, which are now in the care of Henfield Museum. She died in the village on November 3, 2004, aged 91. Her life and photographic achievements are celebrated by Alan Barwick, the Museum Curator, in his book Henfield, through the lens of Marjorie Baker (2007, Phillimore, Chichester).

Marjorie Baker took relatively few topographical pictures, and these were mainly used to illustrate successive Henfield Guides, which were issued from the late 1940s onwards. Some of the photographs, however, also appeared in postcard form. Alan Barwick reports (in notes prepared for this website) that the earliest card he has identified is a black and white view of the Merry Kettle tearoom in Henfield. Marjorie took the photograph in 1936 and cleverly doctored it, removing the properties on each side of the tearoom to create the illusion of a rural setting. The card was doubtless sold at the tearoom, which Alan Barwick notes "was a popular destination for coach parties coming out from Brighton. There is no indication on the postcard that it is a Marjorie Baker image, but the negative is in the archive at the museum".

Two other black and white real photographic postcards exist that show the interior of the George Hotel at Henfield. These acknowledge on the front that Marjorie Baker was the photographer. Alan Barwick has established that one of the cards dates from 1937, but the other may have been issued after the Second World War.

In April 1946 Marjorie Baker took photographs of Henfield, which Mrs Mary Bell arranged to have reproduced as sepia-tinted real photographic cards to sell at her stationer's shop in Henfield High Street, formerly known as Pattendens. The cards are labelled on the back "Photograph by Marjorie Baker for M. Bell, Stationer, Henfield". It is not known who printed the cards. In 1947 George Stringer and his wife Anne took over the shop and continued selling the cards, but with the revised label "Photograph by Marjorie Baker for G. & A. Stringer, Henfield". Alan Barwick has found a total of ten cards, but is uncertain whether they were all originally produced for Mary Bell or whether George and Anne Stringer added to the range. George Stringer died in 1969, but Anne continued to run the shop until 1977.

Alan Barwick has also found three sepia real photographic cards in portrait format that show the interior of St Peter's Church. They are labelled on the back "Photograph by Marjorie Baker, Henfield", and were doubtless sold at the Church.

Acknowledgement: Grateful thanks are due to Alan Barwick for making available the results of his researches on Marjorie Baker and Henfield postcards. The above account is heavily based on notes that he has kindly supplied, and his help and advice have been invaluable.

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