Weekly Photo Challenge – Nostalgia


This photograph of my late grandmother, printed on the reverse side of an aged yellowing postcard bearing the identification ‘The Fancy Dress Studio, 37 Oxford St W’, has always fascinated me for a number of reasons.

Firstly, this is possibly the most uncharacteristic undertaking that I could imagine my Gran getting involved in.  At this time I’d guess she’d probably have been in her early to mid twenties, so it must have been taken in the 1920’s, but even so Gran never seemed to me to be the most fanciful of people.  The idea of her going along to a photography studio, sorting through the costumes and deciding upon  this ‘Laird of the Glen’ outfit is a complete anathema to me.  She was practicality and common-sense personified.

Secondly, if the Oxford St W is Oxford St in London, then this can hardly have been an inexpensive exercise, and I’d always imagined that her family had been, if not exactly impoverished, then at least ‘careful’ with whatever money they had and I’d have though this would be the last venture on which their money would be spent.   So this is a fairly radical departure from my preconceptions of her earlier life.

Look at the shoes; they’d hardly go amiss today.  You can almost feel the soft leather, the tasselled laces – and is that a hint of built-up soles?

And though not uncommon, the stage settings are interesting too!

I love the firm, sturdy legs – long gone by the time I was born.  Gran was always, in my memory, a slightly built woman, narrow shouldered, sparrow-legged.

And that enigmatic, slightly amused pout?

Whatever the background to this photo-shoot, it’s lost to me now.  But it doesn’t make it any the less compelling to me.

About Sandra

I used to cruise the French waterways with my husband four or five months a year, and wrote fiction and poetry. Now I live on the beautiful Dorset coast, enjoying the luxury of being able to have a cat, cultivating an extensive garden and getting involved in the community. I still write fiction, but only when the spirit moves me - which isn't as often as before. I love animals, F1 motor racing, French bread and my husband, though not necessarily in that order.
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18 Responses to Weekly Photo Challenge – Nostalgia

    • Sandra says:

      That’s certainly an enigmatic smile. Thanks for visiting Bjorn.


      • Maureen Cassey says:

        Hi Sandra
        Have just spent the day uploading and making a photo book for my mother in law. (94 years old). Including a photo of her mother taken before 1919 in the Fancy Dress Studio in London dressed in Scottish dress. Looked on the Internet and found your photo.
        My mother in laws mother is also in highland dress same clothes props, background and the number on the photo is 646. And I believe yours is 652!
        We’re they there together.??? Isobella Innes was from Elgin, served in Queen Alexandra’s nursing unit and based at Torquay . She married in 1919 and came with her soldier husband (who was a NZer) back to live in NZ
        Unfortunately after four children in six years died in 1926
        Would love to hear from you. On enlarging your photo see that your grandmother has a wedding ring on.
        Regards from New Zealand. Maureen Cassey


        • Sandra says:

          Hi Maureen, what a coincidence! That’s incredible. I don’t suppose we’ll ever know whether they went there together, but it would be nice to think so. I think I seem to recall something from the dim and distant past about my grandmother having been a nurse or a nursing assistant. But I don’t know where. She lived in Cricklewood, London but I believe she originally hailed from Staffordshire in the midlands. She certainly had a trace of that accent. She had two daughters and two sons, the youngest one emigrating to New Zealand.

          Sadly, this just reinforces what I was saying; we should find out all we can from the older members of our family – as each successive generation passes on they take with them an entire mine of information. My mother died four years ago, so that source is now lost to me. And now I’m wondering about that wedding ring. When I lost weight last year I had to delve into the family heirlooms to find a temporary wedding ring as mine kept falling off – I thought the one I’m wearing now might have been that one. But having enlarged the photo like you, I see hers is broader. And not amongst the heirlooms. Chunky watch though!

          Thanks for contacting me. It was really interesting to know that something similar existed amongst your photographs. Best wishes from Cambridgeshire, UK.



  1. What a great photo! Thanks for letting me share a tiny, tiny bit of your gran’s history.



  2. billgncs says:

    she looks like a fun person… I hope that survived until you knew her


    • Sandra says:

      She was something of a martinet by the time I was old enough to remember, to be honest, but she was certainly a character Bill. Thanks for dropping by.


  3. Sisyphus47 says:

    Amazing, how strange to be transported so in time… 🙂


    • Sandra says:

      It’s a reminder of the passage of time, looking at these old photographs. Even though she was younger than I am now when this was taken, I still think of her as being so much wiser, more grounded. Thanks for dropping by.


  4. becca givens says:

    Love this!! 😀


  5. Tina Schell says:

    I love this! It reminds us that everyone was once young, and before becoming a mom or a grandmom, they were a real person with a zest for life and a love of fun. Good for you! Hope you inherited some of her spirit!


    • Sandra says:

      I think I inherited some of her independence Tina, though I think she was more resilient perhaps than I am. Maybe because life was so much harder in those days. Thanks for commenting.


  6. kz says:

    a really awesome photo… i can see why you were so fascinated with it! it allowed you to glance at a different side of your grandma 🙂


  7. Sarah Ann says:

    That is such a bonny photo. Your gran looks like she was having fun.


  8. Sandra says:

    That’s a very enigmatic smile she’s wearing. Since you posted this I’ve had another contact from someone in NZ (see above) who has a picture of her grandmother in exactly the same costume taken at the same studio with the same props. Amazing.


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