Items by W. Clarke, Llandaff, incorporating Photographs of Dante Gabriel Rossetti's Triptych in Llandaff Cathedral

The first photograph here was taken by the author, while the others all come, with kind permission, from the archives of W. Clarke, Llandaff. You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the author and W. Clarke, Llandaff, and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one. Click on the images to enlarge them. — Jacqueline Banerjee

A recent photograph taken in the office of W. Clarke & Co.

W. Clarke’s records show that in 1896 the firm cut out stonework from the Llandaff Cathedral reredos to remove Rossetti’s paintings for Frederick Hollyer to photograph, then replaced the paintings and made good the stonework. For this work Hollyer was billed £3.0.0 on 20 August. Clarke received a cheque for the work the next day. Unfortunately, the relevant Day Book 5, which would have rendered an account of the work, has not survived. Black and white photographs in Clarke's archive taken in the late nineteenth/early twentieth century show that the firm subsequently incorporated Hollyer's photographs of Rossetti's triptych into several articles of furniture.

Left: Frame believed to have been made for J. H.Insole. Right: a later frame incorporating the lower shelf from the photo on the left,

Clarke's Bill Book 5 (p.120), under work undertaken for J. H. Insole of Ely Court, lists "carriage of picture from Hollyer London to Ely 2s 6d," and on p. 121 it states, "Paid Hollyer for triptych £1.15.0." and it is believed that the photograph on the left shows the frame made for J. H. Insole to display these photographs. It is known that Clarke bought several items from Insole (formerly Ely) Court when the contents were sold off in the 1930s, although there are no surviving records of any such transactions. The object on the right, seen in colour at the top of the page, is now in the office of W. Clarke, Llandaff. The bottom shelf in each of the black and white photographs is clearly the same though it is known that the new frame on the right was made later.

Left: Altar table and reredos for Stancliffe Hall chapel. Right: unidentified item.

Clarke’s archive records that in 1902 the firm made an oak reredos and altar table, which included a set of Rossetti’s paintings, for Rev E. Owen of Stancliffe Hall, Darley Dale, near Matlock, Derbyshire, as shown shown above on the left. Rev Ernest Owen had been headmaster of the Cathedral School, Llandaff between 1883 and 1899. In 1899 he started a school at Stancliffe Hall and in 1902 erected a wooden chapel there, where the altar table and reredos were housed. The school closed in 2001 and the Hall and chapel are now used as a wedding venue. However, the altar and reredos are no longer present. Trent and Peak Archaeology have undertaken a report on the chapel at Stancliffe Hall which contains an old photograph of the interior of the chapel, which shows the altar table and reredos in situ.

The object on the right has an extremely ornate carved surround and might be something the Llandaff clergy had had made, perhaps as an overmantel. The author has not been able to identify this item in Clarke’s collection of ledger books, which are an incomplete set. However, it is still interesting to see that, with the aid of photography, Rossetti's triptych for Llandaff Cathedral enjoyed a kind of afterlife elsewhere.

Links to Related Material


Sheppard, Richard. Historic Building Appraisal of the Former Chapel at Stancliffe Hall, Darley Dale, near Matlock, Derbyshire. Trent and Peak Archaeology. TPA Report No. 023/2013.

Created 16 June 2023