On the eve of the 1902 Coronation of Edward VII and Alexandra, a photo call took place at Lambeth Palace in London.
Present were key players in the following day’s ceremony at Westminster Abbey, notably the Archbishops of Canterbury and York who were to crown the King and Queen respectively.
As the first coronation in Britain for 65 years, this 1902 timeline has echoes of 2023, but there is another significant fact. The 1902 Coronation was the first such occasion since the arrival of photography.
As a result, still and moving cameras were out in force during that coronation summer to record every official function and its participants.
Among the companies involved was Underwood & Underwood of New York, one of the era’s leading stereoscopic ‘3D’ photographers.
This U&U stereo, featuring Frederick Temple (1821-1902), Archbishop of Canterbury, and William Dalrymple Maclagan (1826-1910), Archbishop of York, was issued as part of a coronation-themed set.
The stereo also featured in the company’s short-lived magazine The Stereoscopic Photograph (September 1902) as part of an article promoting its products titled “The Crowning of the King.”
There, it was given an alternative title of “The Archbishops of Canterbury and York in Coronation Robes, with their Sons, London.”
Of course, this additional piece of information, “with their Sons,” provides both context and pointers as to the identity of the other figures portrayed in the stereo.
Here were the two most senior clergy in the Church of England being photographed with members of their families ahead of perhaps the biggest moment of their clerical lives.
Further research has revealed that the U&U stereo featured both a future Archbishop of Canterbury and an influential Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
Frederick Temple’s son William (back left) pursued a career in the church and followed in his father’s footsteps during the years 1942 to 1944. William Maclagan’s son Eric (back right, later Sir Eric) was an art historian who led the V & A from 1924 to 1945.
Another photograph taken on this occasion is part of the Royal Collection.
As well as the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, it features another participant in the 1902 Coronation service.
At this point, Randall Davidson (1848-1930) was Bishop of Winchester, succeeding Frederick Temple as Archbishop of Canterbury when he died a few months after the ceremony.
On the Royal Collection Trust website, the photographer of this portrait is credited as “unknown person.” (Update 18th May 2023: the Royal Collection Trust has amended its website and attributed the photograph to James Russell & Sons to reflect the research outlined below).
However, evidence identified by this blog points towards that person being John Lemmon Russell (1846-1915), head of the firm of J. Russell & Sons who held a royal warrant as photographers to Queen Victoria.
In an interview published by the weekly illustrated paper Black & White (27th December 1902), Russell described the photo call in some detail.
“The day before the Coronation, I had the pleasure of photographing the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and the Bishop of Winchester in their coronation robes at Lambeth Palace.”
He continued: “An American photographer, a representative of Messrs. Underwood and Underwood, was very anxious to accompany me, and I mentioned to the Archbishop of Canterbury the fact that he was present.
“‘I should very much like to speak to the American gentleman,’ said the Archbishop. On being introduced, Dr. Temple proceeded to say what a keen sympathy he had for the American nation. He delivered quite a little speech to my friend, who was exceedingly gratified by this honour.”
The American gentleman was U&U’s co-founder Bert Underwood, and this account helps explain how the company produced its “Archbishops and their sons” stereo.
The collaborative photographic relationship between U&U and Russell during the Coronation summer of 1902 is one that I explore in the current issue of The PhotoHistorian, the journal of the Royal Photographic Society Historical Group.
A free download of that article is available below with the usual credit protocols.
Annual subscriptions for The PhotoHistorian are available for £60 (UK based) or £75 (overseas) to museums, galleries and academic institutions. Contact the editor at PhotoHistorian@rps.org
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