Call for help to identify people pictured in wartime at Hestercombe Gardens


A public call to identify some of the people in a photograph taken over 100 years ago has been launched by archivists at Hestercombe Gardens.

The historic Taunton House and Gardens are known for their beauty and research is underway to identify those who looked after it before WWI.

Archivists hope someone can help solve the mystery of the ancient photograph by recognizing a relative.

The photo, taken in 1914, shows a team of gardeners.

The great-uncle of the current CEO of Hestercombe was one of the gardeners of photography in 1914. Credit: Southwest Heritage Trust

Eight of the 17 people in the photo have been identified, but staff are desperate to find out who the other nine are.

Hestercombe Gardens Trust Managing Director Philip White said: “It is quite easy to find out about the owners of an estate like this, but in reality, to uncover the social history and the stories of the people who have. worked here is often much more difficult. .

“So we are very keen to find family photos, journals, letters, even postcards and anything that helps fill the void regarding the staff who have worked here.”

Philip White, Managing Director of Hestercombe Gardens Trust, wants to rediscover the identity of gardeners.

Philip White became interested in solving the mystery when he realized there was a family connection.

He said: “I had a very strong emotional reaction to the place when I came here, but it was not until soon after that I found out through my uncle that his son had been one. gardeners here.

“It was my uncle who told me which of these characters was my own great uncle and since then we’ve been trying to find out who all the other gardeners were in this photo.”

The photograph was taken just before the start of the First World War. Unfortunately, of the 17 photographed, only four people returned to work on the estate in 1918.

Head gardener Claire Greenslade said finding out how gardeners used to work is fascinating.

“We have a lot of females on our gardening team which wouldn’t have happened back then,” she said.

The gardeners of Hestercombe mowed the lawn with a pony.

“But it would be really interesting to see what their background was, what their training was and it would also be interesting to see the different ways they worked.

“There were more, but maybe they didn’t have the machines that we have. Back then they would have had horses with leather shoes and they would have pulled the mowers, so that would have been very different.”

Anyone who recognizes any of the gardeners in the photo or has any information is asked to contact Hestercombe Gardens.

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