A Pastor's Pastures: the Hatfield Rectory Album

Unknown British, Four photographs from the Hatfield Rectory album, November 1854. Salted paper print, 11.2 x 15.9 cm. Purchased from the collection of Ralph Greenhill, Toronto, 1972. National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa Photo: NGC

 

The Hatfield Rectory album is an intimate memento compiled soon after the death of the Reverend Francis Joseph Faithfull, rector of St. Etheldreda Church in Hatfield in Hertfordshire, England. The album contains 26 charming images of the rectory (known as Howe Dell), the town and the surrounding fields.

Although the album includes eight albumen silver prints, the first eighteen photographs are salted paper prints that were probably made in November of 1854, soon after Faithfull's death. These photographs seem to have been made as an attempt to hold onto the way of life in Hatfield, including one scene that appears to take place on the rectory lawn, where a woman stops on her walk to speak to the gardener while a man wearing a top hat looks on. Other views feature members of the family and household staff, including a man who appears to be the groundskeeper for Howe Dell. There are also several images of St. Etheldreda Church.

Unknown British, Untitled (Hatfield Rectory), November 1854. Salted paper print, 11.2 x 15.9 cm. Purchased from the collection of Ralph Greenhill, Toronto, 1972. National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa Photo: NGC

The album is inscribed on the opening page by Caroline Chittenden (née Faithfull), one of the reverend's six children, who was born at Hatfield Rectory in 1822 and married Charles G. Chittenden in 1853. Along with her siblings Cecilia, Emily, Julia, James and Valentine, Caroline grew up in the town, where her father held a prominent position not only as rector but also as the founder and headmaster of the local preparatory school for boys. A friend of the 2nd Marquess of Salisbury, Reverend Faithfull is remembered for being the first person to play a match of tennis with the Marquess on the newly renovated 17th-century tennis courts at Hatfield House in 1842.

Caroline Chittenden was the original owner of the album and her signature on the opening page suggests that she was the compiler of the album. It may also be the case that several albums were made for various family members and that she personalized her own copy by signing it.

Unknown British, Family Group Portrait (Hatfield Rectory), November 1854. Salted paper print. Purchased from the collection of Ralph Greenhill, Toronto, 1972. National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa Photo: NGC

Unfortunately there are few clues about who might have actually made the photographs that fill the Hatfield Rectory album. A photographer called George Hilditch (1803–57) photographed in Hatfield in 1854 and may have been asked to make a series of views of the rectory. It is also possible that the photographs were made some time before 1854, and put into the album upon the death of the reverend and the relocation of the rest of the family to the Chittenden family home in Hoddesdon. The death of Caroline's father one year after her marriage signalled the end of the Faithfull family's connection to Hatfield and the rectory, making the album an even more poignant record of one family's connection to the place.

Marianne Faithfull © Chris O'Dell Photo: Courtesy Chris O'Dell 

The British singer Marianne Faithfull is one of the descendants of the Faithfull family who lived at Hatfield Rectory from 1812 to 1854. According to census records, Faithfull’s great-great-grandmother was Cecelia Grantham Faithfull, the second eldest daughter of Reverend Francis Joseph Faithfull and Caroline Chittenden’s older sister.

 

This article is an updated extract from Lori Pauli's book 19th-century British Photographs, published by the National Gallery of CanadaShare this article and subscribe to our newsletters to stay up-to-date on the latest articles, Gallery exhibitions, news and events, and to learn more about art in Canada.

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