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Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Aunty Pat's Postcards: Episodes of What?





This week's Sepia Saturday prompt shows a film maker and camera crew filming part of a documentary on Bondi Beach, Sydney, in 1951. 

Below are four  postcards from my late Aunty Pat's collection. They show episodes 2, 4, 5 and 6 of what looks like some medieval drama series, but the cards don't reveal anything further.The cast are all elaborately costumed and seem to be involved in some kind of formal ceremony that includes dancing. Many male cast members are wearing tunics, fancy headdresses and collars, and a group of monks can be seen in Episode 2. Although some of the boys holding heraldic scrolls are quite young, this appears to have been quite a professional production.  It must have been important enough to be filmed, photographed and recorded on postcards and must also have been of some particular significance to Aunty Pat, for her to have saved the cards in her collection. It's a shame I don't have cards for episodes 1 and 3, but I'm not sure they would be of much assistance in solving the mystery. 

All I can discover from the information on the reverse of each card is that they are English Series postcards and were photographed, printed and published by Photo-Precison Ltd, St Albans. No clues as to a date or location for the scenes,  According to this web site on Publishers and Postcards of the Past, Photo-Precison Ltd was founded by two RAF photo reconnaissance officers, and in 1963 the company bought fellow postcard publishers J B White of Dundee. Photo-Precision was itself taken over by Colourmaster Ltd in 1969. 






  •  Does anyone have any suggestions as to what the title of this series might have been and/or  the film location?  That church in the distance could be located almost anywhere in England. It looks like there is a  long hessian screen hiding some structures in the background that probably weren't considered appropriate to the time period of the series, and there may be some onlookers in the background of Episodes 4 and 6. Most of the cards in Aunty Pat's postcard collection date from the 1940s and 1950s.
  •  I wrote a tribute to Aunty Pat here in 2013. If only I could ask her to solve this mystery, although of course, if she were still with us, I wouldn't yet have her postcards to peruse and wonder about!
For more blogs this week on cameras and camera crew, or on films, filming and film locations of subjects known and unknown, just roll cameras over to Sepia Saturday #316.


  • Postscript 5.02.2016: Fellow Sepian Barbara Fisher was able to identify the event and location very quickly, and directed me to the web site called The Redress of the Past which features Historical pageants of England, and explains all about the post-war historical pageant that took place in St Albans in 1948, commemorating 1000 years since the town was founded.  You can read all about it there, and my Aunty Pat would very likely have attended a performance, as she was studying at Oxford at that time. Thank you so much, Barbara!  
Here is an online photograph of the Cathedral of St Albans. The tower and rear wing  appears in the background of the Episode 2 postcard.

http://www.katapi.org.uk/images/Churches/StAlbansFront600w.jpg



22 comments:

  1. That sure is a mystery. Hope you solve it.

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  2. This might solve the mystery - The Redress of the past blog
    http://www.historicalpageants.ac.uk/featured-pageants/st-albans-1948-austerity-pageant/
    The Millenary Pageant of 1948 was the second time a historical pageant had been staged in St Albans. The first was in 1907, during the wave of ‘pageant fever’ that swept Britain before the First World War.

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    1. Thanks Barbara, that's fantastic! I was just thinking perhaps it was a pageant of some kind and then your comment came in. Aunty Pat was studying at Oxford in 1948 so she could very well have witnessed a performance of the pageant at St Albans. That site includes a copy of Episode 3, one of my missing postcards, and also one of Episode 9, so clearly 7 and 8 must also exist somewhere.

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  3. What a quick solution to your mystery!

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    1. Yes, it doesn't seem to have been too much of a mystery for Barbara!

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  4. In the second episode, it looks as if it might be a funeral procession? And in the fifth, there's obviously some dancing going on there. :)

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    1. I've emailed copies of the cards to the web site that Barbara so helpfully found for me and have asked if they can tell me the titles that describe what's happening in each of them, as they have a description of Ep. 3 on their site.

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  5. You have to love the web (and webbers like Barbara). It's an amazing resource. Your Pat would perhaps have been amazed at our interest in her handful of postcards.

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    1. I'm sure she could have told me all about the pageant. I do have quite a few postcards of hers, but many are just scenic views.

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  6. Wouldn't it be lovely if all our family mysteries were solved so easily ? So the next big problem - how do you make sure that the solution stays with cards into the future. Is it right to now write on the cards when it was Auntie Pat who owned the cards and that wouldn't be her writing. They seem to be praying in the final card - heads bowed. It woud be lovely to see such a pageant.

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    1. Yes, we don't have many similar pageants here, unlike in the UK. I might print out the information from the web site and put it in an envelope together with the postcards.

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  7. How wonderful that Barbara solved your mystery. My village held a pageant in 1934 in the grounds of a nearby country house to celebrate centuries of local history. The photographs I have seen are similar in style to yours, though it was not such a large scale a production.

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  8. Oh it's great to be able to see the answers as well as the questions, at least as to what the event was and where it was, and why it happened. Do repost please, if you find out captions for each card!

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  9. I'm glad to see the mystery presented and solved, all in one sitting. If only I had such luck with my photos! Well done to you and Barbara both!

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  10. I thought some reenactment of a history event, alas I am not familiar with them! It's done and sorted.

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  11. These are really interesting and isn’t it heartening to read that a fellow Sepian has helped out with identifying the scenes?

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  12. How wonderful is the internet! 20 years ago, we would not have dreamed about being able to share our information or being able to get such instant assistance from the other side of the world! How good it is to have a story (or potential story) to go with the postcards.

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    1. Yes, it is amazing. Aunty Pat would simply not have believed we could do it. I wonder why she didn't have a complete set of the cards.

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  13. The postcards are indeed a fascinating mystery that, though now explained, is still a very interesting event. I read the story on the link and was intrigued by the preparations and concerns over the post-war austerity. I like the idea that the St. Albans pageant was a tradition that celebrated the place as much as anything. Few places in America could produce a similar observance of history.

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  14. Thank you, Jo, for your interest in my story this week on the Marvellous Corrick Family Entertainers. I found so much material on this musical troupe that it was difficult to select. However I was inspired to review the Trove website again and was excited to discover another history of the Corricks from 1968 which I have now added to the story. It makes a super coda to my story and has a few new images and history as well. Thanks for the enthusiasm!

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  15. This is what's so great about Sepia Saturday. So many wonderful sleuths are involved ready to solve our mysteries.

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  16. Geez, it was solved before I got to the end of the post! I was just about to say that surely someone somewhere would figure this out. How fantastic that it was a Sepian! Great fun!

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