Henry Reginald Bacon had his potograph his photograph taken in Brightlingsea, Essex during July 1903. He wears a wide-brimmed sailor cap and long ringlet curls. He was 7 years
old. He has a kneepants suit with military styling worn with an enormous Eton-style collar. Henry has long ringlet curls which have been carefully layed on his shoulders. Four ringlets can be seen. Because of the hat, it is difficult to make out how the hair on his forehead was done. It looks like rather than bangs, his hair at the front was done in short curls.
This portrait was taken in July 1903.
The portrait was taken at Brightlingsea, Essex. We thought that it might be a beach resort along the North Sea. The background, however, does not suggest a beach resort. We mention this as if Brightlingsea is a resort town, than Henry may be just visiting for his summer holiday rather than actually a resident from the townbut Census records suggest that he was local. Brightlingsea, Essex is on the estuary of the River Colne, 70 miles from London. It lies with the North Sea to the North and the Thames Estuary to the South. A British reader tells us, "It is not, and probably wasn’t a fashionable resort. Historically it was a fishing port with crabs, shrimps and oysters as it main catch. The main resorts ( Clacton and particularly Frinton) were
very fashionable, with long stretches of sandy beaches. They are some 5 – 10 miles around the coast. They were popular at the turn of the Century. There are mostly mud flats around Brightlingsea which is tidal esturay.
Today, on account of the many inlets, it is one of many sailing centres in the region."
A reader writes, "The Bacon family came from Brightlingsea which was a fishing village in Victorian times. Many of them were fishermen." [Pendomer] Henry does not look to me like the son of a fishermen which in Victorian times was not a high status or high paying occupation. Our reader tells us, "There had been Bacons in Brightlingsea since 1587. I agree he doesnt look like the son of a farmer nor a fisherman. There may be a chance that he could have been dressed up for a play -- although the hat looks in keeping with the times. If I come across his name while tracing the Bacon families of Brightlingsea I will let you know as soon as possible. He still remains a mystery."
I don't think he was dressed up for a play. The curls look real and unlike the costume could not be put on or taken off. That was how well to do little boys were dressed sat the time. If the family was in fishing, perhaps his father got involved as a merchant selling at the wholesale level.
The boy's name was Henry Reginald Bacon. All that we know about him was that he was 7 years old, other than he might be from Essex. The ringlets suggest that he came from an affluent family. The fact that the suit was ourchased in a very large size, suggests that it was not a wealthy family. A British reader has researched the Census crecords. He tells us, "I can find no Henry Reginald Bacon in the 1901 Census that matches the
age of this child. There is, however, a Reginald Bacon living in Brightlingsea, aged 4, son of farmer Francis W. Bacon. This would make him 7 in 1903, the date of the portrait. He has a brother who was 14 at the time. That was quite an age gap, especially for a farmer's son. Looking at the portrait, we would not have guessed his father was a farmer. One can speculate that Henry Reginald was a cosseted ‘baby’ of the family; hence the ringlets.
Henry wears a wide-brimmed sailor hat. We wonder if he normally wore this hat or if it was purchashed especially for a seaside holiday. He has a kneepants suit. The jacket had rather elaborate military detailing and did not button close, being held together by a collar button. He appears to have a kind of white vest (waistcoat) on undernetah the jacket rather than a shirt or blouse. It is worn with an enormous white collar with Eton styling. This was probably a button on collar rather than a blouse with its own collar. He does not have a bow or other neckwear. Note the military-styled detailing on the coat. The knee pants have the traditional three-button ornamentation, but are not creased. This of course was because the style of creased trousers had not yet appeared. He has dark long stockings and high button shoes. There are eight buttons on each shoe and the top pf the shoes are sdcalloped. It looks like the suit was just purchases and it is rather larger for him, both the jacket and kneepants. Presumably mother purchased a large size that he could grow into.
Henry has long ringlet curls which have been carefully layed on his shoulders. Fout ringlets can be seen, but we do not know the total number. They are relatively narrow diameter ringlets. His wide-brimmed sailor hat covers much of his head, making it difficult to see all of the hair style. Some mothers wanted such portraits taken with any hats off so that the hair style coulkd be admired. Henry's mother apparently liked the look of his sailor hat. Because of the hat, it is difficult to make out how the hair on his forehead was done. It looks like rather than bangs, his hair at the front was done in short curls.
Pendomer, Sarah. E-mail message, September 30, 2009.
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