Thursday, July 16, 2020

Parlington Hall :: The Stereo Images taken around 1860 :: Page One

This picture is the beginning of a remarkable story in the research of Parlington Hall. Earlier this year I was contacted by a reader, Mr Don Cathie, who had found the site whilst trying to discover the significance of the word Parlington on the rear of some old stereo photographs that had been in the family for many, many years, but had little or no significance to the family except being remembered as coming from an ancestor by the name of John Shelton.

It seems the photographs along with the viewer, pictured above, had reached the point of being unceremoniously sent to the tip, after some time in the toy box as a source of amusement on wet days! However the internet search proved successful as Don recognised that the pictures and the website he had found were both on the same subject. So after all the years of just being pictures from a long dead relative, they suddenly had a context.

Like all good mysteries, the discovery raised as many questions as it answered. How did they come into the possession of John Shelton? When were they taken? Where were they taken from? Just a few of the questions raised, if you read on you will follow the thread giving a possible explanation of how they came to be with Don Cathie's family.

The following is a lightbox view of the initial photographs received, all the originals are the same size but have been highlighted on the lightbox by changing the scale to indicate their importance.

Lightbox view of stereo slides

There were 16 photographs in all, but some were duplicates, so I have ignored them for the purposes of this record.

The three most significant, In order of importance, numero uno is the shot of the main entrance, the slide in the bottom left on the image above. Although it shows the entrance Porte Cochère, which is known to survive to this day in the gardens at Lotherton Hall, it was still a real treat to see it in-situ for the first time. The picture and 3D model from the earlier Hall Part Two page, is here.

The next most important was the delightful view of the south east corner of the Hall [top right], although similar to other later shots, the shear clarity was a delight to behold, especially when viewed through the reader.

Third is the view of the former lake, lodge and rowing boat, down near Garforth Golf Course and Laverack Cottages, off the Barwick in Elmet to Garforth road. This was drained in the early twentieth century, over fears of flooding the mines. The following section has information on the lake

All the remaining pictures I will detail as I work through the full set.

My delight at receiving the pictures was only surpassed when I called Don to express my thanks and was told he had more but they were of some place in Scotland....

Craignish, I enquired
How did you know! Exclaimed Don.
Well that was the Scottish residence of the Gascoignes,
I replied.
It is just a guess.

I was aghast, this was truly great fortune to come across not one set of historical photos but to discover there were yet more! We made arrangements for the remainder to be sent and to add icing to this cake, the viewer too!

On receipt of the package some days later I could barely contain my excitement as I opened the parcel and unwrapped the contents, immediately testing the stereoviewer with the picture of the Hall from the first set, mentioned as number two above! It was like I was there, then, in eighteen... something or other, all in dramatic 3D.

Sadly, to the readers here, you can only take my word for it as the technology does not work on a modern computer. Although I now understand there are ways of achieving a similar result by squinting at the screen! So you will have to wait until 3D electronic viewers are more readily available, I'll add the stereo images to the site then!

Not having paid a great deal of attention to these old technologies, until confronted with them, I have now spent a lot of time looking into this remarkable scientific principle, and have been able to create an effective stereo image of my own, using my Olympus Digital SLR and a horizontal sliding mechanism fabricated using a copy stand, I took two pictures a few centimetres apart and then spent about half an hour in Adobe Photoshop, setting the rectangular pictures up to work as a stereo pair. The result is below, [Not to Scale]

Modern Stereo Image, Cedar, Parlington

The only drawbacks are the subject needs to be still, as a few seconds elapse to take the two shots. Secondly the print being digital, at 300dpi, is slightly pixelated when viewed through the stereoviewer. A higher resolution dye-sublimation printer may be the answer, or alterantively a print to medium format film positive (2 x 6cm square) might work well.

The Research on the old Photos

The ongoing uncovering of the history of Parlington Hall has always occupied a lot of my time, but I find it fascinating, there is still much to be done and I have a virtual list in my head of all the different avenues I need to go down. The remarkable find of the stereo images has given new insights into the Hall at around the middle of the nineteenth century. The pictures have shown us glimpses of a home which was obviously delightfully situated in this shallow valley a mile or so west of Aberford.

Rather than wait for the whole of this section to be completed, as it is very comprehensive and may run to twenty or more pages, I will post new pages, in the fashion of a Blog as I complete them, so please call back regularly if you would like to learn more. Thanks for your support, I get quite a few messages expressing interest, they help me to get going again, when some would say I should be doing something else!

Next Page [Two] :: Background information on the photos.

Page [Three] :: Locations.

Page [Four] :: When.

Page [Five] :: Interpretation of the information.



Sir David Brewster
[b:11-12-1781 d:10-2-1868]
A Fellow of the Royal Society and founder of the British Association for the advancement of Science, invented the Stereoscope, a viewer for stereoscopic prints, in 1849. His invention was popular in Victorian society, many were to be found in the drawing rooms of the day. He wrote a book titled The Stereoscope, its history, theory and construction.

An excellent source for more information on this fascinating subject can be found here

The following extract by Robert Leggat from his site mentioned above: Stereoscopic, or 3D photography, works because it is able to recreate the illusion of depth. Human eyes are set about two-and-a-half inches apart, so each eye sees an image slightly differently. If one takes two separate photographs that same distance apart, with a suitable viewer it is possible to recreate that illusion of depth.


This is a list of some external references I have found on the web which may add to the information contained here.

The Stereoscopic society

Stereographic Imaging by Terry Blackburn

George Eastman House