A few more photogrphic post cards have been added this year so far. The first selection represent some aspect of Travelling Menageries and Circuses.
The Alphonso family were well known aerialists. A notable speciality act was having three cyclists balancing above the lion’s den on narrow cycleways. whilst below the trainer would put the lions through several tricks. The date is probably 1904 when they were at Madison Square Gardens in New York.
A rather puzzling Carte de Visite by W L Shrubsole, date unknown. Bsed at 5 Davey Place and at Victoria staion in Norwich. William Lewis Shrubsole, 82 Chapelfield Road, Norwich and was known to be photographing between 1890 – 1910. Little is known of his landscape art.
Is though, this an image of the elusive ‘Mrs Wombwell (Ann Morgan)? Norwich has connections to the Menageire, via the wife of E H Bostock, who was from Norwich.
A scarce postcard representing the Tower Circus ring at Blackpool in England. A full description of Frank Matcham’s interiors can be found on the NFA website.
A popular colour postcard of the lion cages at Blackpool Circus and Zoo. Date unknown, poor quality reproduction.
At last the project is complete! The third and final part has just
been published. It went straight into the Top 100 Best Sellers of Circus
Books at No. 11!
In addition, the covers of all three volumes have been updated to the
one above. Look out for the distinctive red covers and the subtitles (
volumes I to III, Events at Warwick, The Greatest Showman and The Real
This volume also contains many previously unpublished images from the Wombwell Collection and a menagerie events calendar between 1800 and the late 19th century. It is a major addition to the genealogical map of menageries families in the UK and beyond.
When Mrs Wombwell retired from running her former partner’s menagerie she retired to live with her daughter and her husband, Edmond Bramston, in an area of London known as All Souls or St, John’s Wood. She lived at 26 Belsize Avenue as shown in the Ordnance Survey map from circa 1869. Prior to this, she mainly travelled with the menagerie number 1, but has been known to have an address elsewhere in North London, probably Stoke Newington. The Belsize Road address at that time was quite a wealthy neighbourhood, being RED: Middle class – Well-to-do on the Booth Poverty map dated 1898-99 as shown below.
A carte de visite is now part of the archives. It shows a Victorian lady in mourning dress. Across the back is pencilled ‘Mrs Wombwell’. Could this be the enigmatic ‘Mrs Wombwell’ of Menagerie fame? The carte was made either in Newcastle or London by the studios of W & D Downey a popular photographer to the Royal family and others.
Image of Mrs Wombwell
Back view of Carte
There’s no guarentee of this being George’s partner, but the locations are consistent with Mrs Wombwell travelling to Newcastle or being photographed in London. The eminence of Downey might also suggest the wife of Sir George Orby Wombwell, 4th Baronet, although he married Lady Julia Sarah Alice Child-Villiers who would not have been known as plain Mrs! Incidentally, Villiers is also one of my names too and other relatives existed in Maldon, Essex during the twentieth century with the same family name.
*Downey was an active studio from the mid century to the end of the nineteenth century.