FROST, Essendon Place, 1840-60

March 2003




Anne Stevens (anne_s @t, of Rosseau, Ontario, Canada, writes: My ancestors William Frost and his wife, Mary Anne King Frost were employed at Essendon Place, Essendon, Hertfordshire in the period 1840-1860's. He was employed as their  bootmaker and she and her mother, Sarah Lawman, as laundresses.  They lived at Laundry Cottage. Would you have any information on Essendon Place. We would like to find pictures of the family at this time.  Your web site has brought us great joy. Thank you so much.

In the 1851 Post Office Directory Charles Dimsdale, esq., was listed at Essendon Place, and Baron Dimsdale was at Camfield Place, Essendon. The 1882 Kelly's Directory lists the Hon. Baron Robert Dimsdale, JP, at Essendon Place, but does not mention Essendon Place in the description of the village, which does mention Camfield and Bedwell Park. The Victoria County History details the Dimsdale connections with both Essendon Place and Camfield Place, but says nothing about Essendon Place itself. Pevnser simply says Essendon Place was early 19th century - suggesting the building is of no great age or interest at the county level. There may well be more in local town/villages histories, possibly including photographs - but I don't have ready access to these - see Books about Hertfordshire.

From the information you give there is very little chance of finding any pictures of your family. From about 1850 the very well-to-do might have daguerreotypes taken - but the usual approach would be to have a portrait painted.  Photographs as we know them were only becoming available about 1860, and even these needed long exposures - with studios equipped with head clamps to prevent the subject moving as the picture was taken. For many people the earliest surviving photographs are the carte de visite  (visiting card with a portrait) which only started in the mid-1850s. Many working families may well have had no photographs taken until the men-folk got into uniform for the First World War (1914-1919). In my own family - which included well-to-do farmers and businessmen the earliest surviving photographs of my ancestors come from about 1865. For instance the portrait of Ellen Smith was almost certainly taken at about the time of her marriage in 1864 - and she was the daughter of a farmer of about 460 acres, while her husband farmed some 200 acres.

Occasional early photographs of the rich would have included employees - for instance the game keeper in a photograph taken after a successful day's shooting - or the coachman in a picture including the family carriage. However, unless a member of the Dimsdale family was a pioneer photographer of everyday scenes (very unlikely) the chances of downstairs staff being included in any photographs is virtually zero.

May 2007

Essendon Place from Lawn, Eddendon, Hertfordshire

Essendon Place from the Lawns

Postcard by L. Dunkley, Post Office, Essendon

Posted August 1915

If you can add to the information given above tell me.

Page updated May 2007