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The “Sun-Prints” of Rev. William Miles Barnes, Photographer

Jim Potts

When Marion Tait first passed me this file of photographs to inspect in the William Barnes Archive at Dorset County Museum, I wondered whether the initials L.E.B. referred to William Barnes’ daughter and biographer, Lucy Emily Baxter, or to his grandson Lawrence Edward Barnes, son of William Miles. Could the second initial be an L rather than an E? Could it even, conceivably, be L.L.B (Laura Liebe Barnes)?

It didn’t take me long to work out that it must be the handwriting and initials of his grandson Lawrence Edward Barnes. I should have asked Marion at the time.

Douglas Ashdown’s book William Barnes, My Hwomeward Road, The Family Life of the Dorset Poet (2003), clarified the issue.

Willie Barnes, Rev. William Miles Barnes, was the main photographer (up to about 1886, according to the note signed L.E.B).

Ashdown writes (p.163) that William “took up the novel art of ‘sun’prints’ (photography), and in his time produced some delightful sepia photographs. This led him to become one of the founders and the first director of the Dorset Photographic Survey which is a unique pictorial record of the county during the late 19th century. The albums are kept in the Dorset County Museum”.


William Barnes Sun-Print Album

The photographs reproduced below come from Scrap Books Volume XX, and Volume XIX, Photographs. Photographs courtesy of Dorset County Museum © 2017

William Barnes and Family Came Rectory 1882 © Dorset County Museum William Barnes and Family at Came Rectory 1882 - © Dorset County Museum Came Rectory - © Dorset County Museum High East Street, Dorchester - © Dorset County Museum Church of St Peter, Dorchester - © Dorset County Museum High West Street, Dorchester © Dorset County Museum Weymouth Harbour - © Dorset County Museum Weymouth Harbour 1887 © Dorset County Museum Portland Harbour © Dorset County Museum Fortuneswell and Chesil Beach - © Dorset County Museum Portland Quarry - © Dorset County Museum In the garden of the Rectory, Winterborne Monkton - © Dorset County Museum Harvest at Winterborne Monkton - © Dorset County Museum Children playing in Straw Bundles, Winterborne Monkton - © Dorset County Museum Church of St Thomas a Beckett, Lydinch - © Dorset County Museum