Celebrating Arthur Whinfield’s Slide Collection

  • 25th January 2018


Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service (WAAS), in partnership with Worcester Diocesan Church House Trust (WDCHT) has been successful in its bid for £39,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to conserve, catalogue and share the Arthur Henry Whinfield Lantern Slide Collection.

The remarkable photographic collection of this Worcestershire resident was donated by his widow, Laura Jane Curtler, to WDCHT in March 1918 and the project will celebrate the centenary. Working together, WAAS and Rob Hewitt of Redhawk Logistica, will deliver a programme of events, lecture evenings and visual public displays between March and August this year.

The collection holds 1800 slides, 1200 of which were taken by Whinfield during the 1880s throughout the UK, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australasia and the Americas. Whinfield’s photographs fall into three tantalising themes:

  • Images from his world tours, including internationally important sites and landscapes now lost;
  • Cathedrals and churches in the UK and Western Europe – significantly, many images were taken during the Victorian ‘programme’ of restoration;
  • Slides used by Whinfield during church services, including projected hymn lyrics for the parishioners of St. John Baptist Church in Claines, Worcester. Whinfield was the proprietor of Nicholson Organ Company from 1903-1916 and he not only built but played the organ at St. John the Baptist.
Sphinx, Temple of the Sun in Syria & Great Bronze Buddha in Japan

Three images taken by Arthur Whinfield during his world tours – Sphinx (Egypt), Baalbec Temple of the Sun (Syria) & the Great Bronze Buddha (Japan)


As part of the project, Whinfield’s world tour lectures will be re-enacted at venues across Worcestershire, including churches where his organs are still in use. Digitisation of the lantern slides will allow greater access to the collection and enable a series of public posters and building projections to be created.

Whinfield’s father was close friends with another of Worcester’s famous residents – Elgar. In association with the Elgar Birthplace Trust, volunteers for the Trust and WAAS will research Whinfield’s life and family using the archives held here on the Explore the Past level of The Hive.

Keep an eye on our blog over the coming months to find out more about the project!



6 responses to “Celebrating Arthur Whinfield’s Slide Collection”

  1. Kevin Allen says:

    I wonder what the evidence may be for stating that Arthur was ‘close friends’ with Elgar? They may well have known each other but there don’t seem to be any letters between them, for example. What is well documented is the friendship between Arthur’s father, Edward Wrey Whinfield, and Elgar. Edward was a man of wide culture who supported the young Elgar by lending him books and hosting musical evenings where he met other musicians. See ‘Elgar: A Creative Life,’ Moore, OUP, 1984

    • Paul Hudson says:

      Sorry, when summarising the project we got confused between Arthur and his father, Edward Wrey Whifield, who was the one with the friendship with Elgar. We’ve amended it now.

      • Paul Conneally says:

        Hi Paul,

        Nicholson’s on their website say that Elgar was a friend of Elgar’s and that he dedicated a piece of music to him:

        “As a young man, Elgar became a great friend of A H Whinfield, Nicholson’s owner from 1903 to 1915. The Whinfields often gave musical evenings at their house and Edward Elgar and his violin were frequent guests along with other local musicians. Elgar later dedicated his Serenade for Strings to Mr Whinfield.”

        Is this wrong? is the piece actually dedicated to his father? Elgar was certainly interested and involved with Nicholsons in regard to the Birmingham Oratory .. where they built the organ and where his score for the Dream of Gerontius is held .. really interesting stuff and I’m pleased to working on some aspects of this project now 🙂

        • Nina O'Hare says:

          Hi, this ‘error’ crept in from a ‘bygones column in Worcester News many years ago – you are correct that Serenade was dedicated to Whinfield’s father, with whom Elgar was close to. Arthur was much closer in age but, given the amount of travelling he did and the fact that he lived in Melbourne for at least 9 years, he won’t have moved in those musical circles regularly.

  2. Paul Conneally says:

    sorry i mistyped Elgar wasn’t a friend of Elgar i meant Arthur Whinfield.. thinking quicker than i can type lol

  3. Paul Haley says:

    Hello – an enquiry about the Whinfield collection.
    I am researching Ellen Arabella Key (nee Whinfield) 1823-1912 who was Arthur’s aunt (the older sister of his father) and between 1880-1912 lived near Ross-on-Wye. She also had church interests.
    Paul Haley

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