Frederick George Benson and Harry Streatfeild in Tunbridge Wells
Frederick Benson takes his friend Harry Streatfeild for a tour around Tunbridge Wells circa 1920. Benson was a commercial photographer and taxidermist who moved to Westerham in 1898. He initially operated his business from Roseville in the High St, then moving across the road to a new-build next door to New Rose Villa, the house Thomas Weller had built for his own family. This new house was to be Benson’s ‘Keswick Studios’ where he did most of his portrait work until his death in 1938. His distinctive photographs provide a large part of our archives. Winston Churchill favoured the work of Benson for his personal photographs of the family.
Harry Streatfeild was a local man disabled from birth. Harry would often be seen being pushed round the town in his old-fashioned bath-chair by his devoted sister Alice. Harry was descended from the poorer side of the large Streatfeild dynasty, many of whom were living around Chiddingstone, Penshurst and Westerham. Harry was often regarded as the town’s diarist, as he would make notes on all of the comings and goings of the district, be it the weather, building developments, society weddings or records on local businesses and trades and what they were up to. He was an inveterate collector of newspaper cuttings from the Westerham Herald and could always be relied upon to give the date of any particular local occurrence.