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Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Connecting Collections - Magic Lantern Slides Part I

Magic lanterns were an early form of slide projector, used in conjunction with glass slides to project an image. The glass slides were made by putting a light-sensitive solution onto glass plates, taking a picture and creating a negative which was then printed onto another glass plate.

The pictures here are from a collection of magic lantern slides, donated to the Roman Baths Museum in 1984, by a Miss Garroway. They belonged to her father, the Rev.George Garroway, and range in date from around 1880 to at least the beginning of the First World War in 1914, and may well have been taken by different photographers. Some of the photographers must have travelled widely, as the places photographed range widely. Some were taken in the West Indies and the Caribbean, others in Schull, County Cork, Ireland, Cornwall, Jersey, North America and Versailles, France.

The slides taken locally, include what may be a family group portrait taken in Warleigh, views of Castle Combe and Great Wishford, in Wiltshire. One particularly interesting slide is that of a Roman Mosaic found near Box, Wiltshire, in 1898. It has since been reburied to help preserve it. Another, also taken in Box, shows the Market Place with, of course, a group of children as often seen in Victorian and Edwardian photographs.

Roman Mosaic at Box
Others are of Bristol, one in particular showing a horse drawn open carriage being driven on the Suspension Bridge - not a sight to be seen very often now! Another sight long gone, is the Bristol High Cross. The one photographed is a replica which stood near College Green. The original, which stood at the junction of four roads, was moved to Stourhead, Wiltshire, in the 1770’s. The replica itself has been dismantled, but a remnant can be found in Berkeley Square Gardens, Bristol.

Clifton Suspension Bridge

Bristol High Cross


  1. Do you know if the Box Roman mosaic can be visited? I work nearby (Ashley) and have heard about it. We also find pieces of Roman villa in the nearby fields - ploughed-out parts of stone conduit, etc.

  2. Hi Tom,
    Unfortunately I don't think you can visit the site and as it falls out of our county boundry I am not too familiar with the current status but I don't believe any remains are visable - for the finds and more info you would need to contact the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre http://www.wshc.eu/ (copy and paste the link)Hope this helps RB

  3. I think it's in the gardens of the rectory and was reburied many years ago. Time to dig it up again!