63 photographs over 11 card album leaves (remaining 7 leaves blank), Quarter leather with cloth boards. Many are subtitled in pencil, presumably in the hand of Sophie Colenso (see below). The first 5 pages are mainly images of Elangeni House in Amersham, Buckinghamshire, over several years. The first is subtitled ‘1906, Nigel Fecit’ [taken by Nigel]. This is Nigel Colenso (b.1889), the youngest son of Francis and Sophie Colenso, owners of Elangeni. ‘Frank’ as he was better known and his wife were noted for their efforts in support of the Zulus of South Africa, hence the Zulu name of the property. Many of the photographs were taken by their children (Nigel, Irma and Eothen), though a few (in which Frank and Sophie are captured) were taken by Baron Yoshirō Fujimura, (a Japanese businessman and politician). There is a large photograph taken on board a ship, probably the earliest in the album, subtitled ‘Taken in Norway’ showing ‘Papa’ which was Sophie Colenso’s father: Sir Edward Frankland, the noted English Chemist (one of the discoverers of helium). This may be the last photograph taken of him, as he died while on holiday in Norway in 1899. There are also photos taken by Harold Symons who was presumably a friend of the Colenso’s and he also appears with his own family in a splendid full page photograph taken at the pyramids in Egypt. Perhaps the finest photograph is of a young woman playing the guitar by a widow, titled ‘Sonimer, 1907’ Binding holding together but spine damaged, with loss.
As a Scottish dealer the eight photographs featuring the Lossiemouth native and first Labour Prime Minister, Ramsay MacDonald (1866-1937) are of greatest interest. The MacDonalds had a weekend home in nearby Chesham Bois and were clearly close friends with the Colenso family (perhaps through Frank’s political campaigning on behalf of the Zulus - there is correspondence between Frank Colenso and MacDonald archived in the special collections at the Bodlean Library which could clarify their connection). Of the eight pictures of MacDonald and his family the finest is an early portrait of a seated MacDonald, his wife Margaret (a celebrated reformer and suffragist), and his infant daughter Ishbel who later became her father’s official hostess at Downing Street, at just 20 years of age - the youngest person ever to take on the roll. A set of four photographs is titled ‘Haymaking at Elangeni’ and features Ramsay Macdonald and ‘R.M. children’ working outside. Two of the photographs were taken by Irma Colenso (eldest daughter of Frank and Sophie) and show the MacDonald children seated on a pile of hay: Malcolm, Alister, Ishbel and David (the youngest, who died in 1910 at just 6 years old, closely followed by his mother in 1911). The last photograph in the album is of Ramsay MacDonald with three unnamed ladies and his dog (who appears with the children and in an earlier series of dog portraits).
Author [Colenso Family Photograph Album (Elangeni House, Amersham, Buckinghamshire)]
Date c.1899 - 1907
Binding Leather photograph album