Mrs Frances Burchett Brook


High Street, Lewes, with Shelley's Hotel

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Stationer, 175 High Street, Lewes. Mrs Brook is listed in Directories from the 1890s to 1915. She marketed a double sized panoramic postcard of Lewes High Street (numbered a770/587) that was printed in Germany, probably by the same firm that supplied Staffords. She also produced "F.B. Brook's Copyright Series" of collotype cards of Lewes (e.g. Rotten Row) that were printed for her in Germany. Another major collotype series (including views of Shelley's Hotel, St Anne's Hill and Prince Edward's Road) marked "I X L Series" and also "Brook's Series, Lewes" was printed in Bavaria and on sale by 1906. The unknown publisher of the IXL Series also produced coloured views of London and East Anglia (see A. W. Coysh, The dictionary of picture postcards in Britain, 1894-1939, 1984, Antique Collectors' Club, London).

A card "Distant view of Lewes" from Juggs Lane has a title in hollow italics, and was also printed in Germany. A faded sepia real photographic card of a rain swept funeral procession in Lewes High Street is stamped on the back "J. Brook, Lewes". The card has no caption and has not been postally used.

James Brook married Frances Burchett Francis in 1882. Possibly both were embarking on a second marriage. The 1891 census records that James was 79, and had been born in Burwash. She was 50 and came from Lewes. The census describes her as a bookseller and stationer. Living with the Brooks was 56-year old Mercy Wheatley, another Lewesian, described as a shop assistant.

James seems to have died in 1892. The 1901 census records that Charles Brook, a 76 year-old widow, born in Brighton, was living at 175 High Street with Mercy Wheatley and a cook. There is no mention of Mrs F. B. Brook, but she may have been visiting friends or relatives. No evidence has been found to suggest that she had died.

It is unlikely that Mrs Brook took any of the photographs that appear on her cards (except perhaps the photo of the funeral procession, which conceivably is a memento of her late husband's last journey), and there must be some doubt as to whether she was a genuine postcard publisher rather than just a particularly enterprising retailer).

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