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Indian Summer starts early in Horsham

Held in a cold dark room, the exact opposite of the warm balmy glow that an Indian Summer conjures up, are a remarkable set of Victorian photographs collected by a Victorian businessman from Horsham. These incredibly delicate photographs, whose survival has occurred only because so few people have seen them, have been digitally copied and are now on display in Horsham Museum’s new photographic display ‘Indian Summer’.

The images on show range from the grand architecture for which the continent is known, through to the scene of everyday workmen. These images though show an India pre Edwin Lutyen’s, an India whose own striking architecture inspired and challenged Britain’s own idea of Imperial splendour. The images date from around 1865 to 70, at a time when India’s past and its culture provided a rich fascination for the English. This fascination would culminate in 1876 when Queen Victoria would be proclaimed Empress of India and continue through to the 1920s with the inspiration for Wembley.

The photographs’ were collected by Robert Henderson of Sedgwick Park, Horsham who undertook a tour of the country in January through to July 1874, before travelling to the rest of Asia and America, looking at his business interests. Some of the photographs were taken by the celebrated photographer Samuel Bourne whose photographs were described at the time as having a "luminescent quality". His work gave birth to a studio, Bourne and Shepherd, which still operates in Calcutta. As Bourne operated in India between 1863 and 1870 it is more than likely that Robert Henderson collected the prints from the studio itself. They were then pasted in to green leather bound albums and eventually donated to Horsham Museum in 1930.

Visitors can see four albums at the Museum, reconstructing Henderson’s tour. Volume One, from January to July 1874, shows India, Singapore and Jahore. The other three volumes contain images from Bangkok, China, Japan and America.

For further information please contact Jeremy Knight, Curator, or check out the event details here.

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