Chosen by Christine Chowne, volunteer
John Holland Ballet Fletcher was a local man, born in 1879 in Worthing. He was the only surviving child of William H. B. Fletcher, former mayor of Worthing and later Lord of the Manor at Aldwick, now Hotham Park House, and his wife, Agnes. John read law at St John’s College, Cambridge, and, after graduating in 1902, he practiced as both a defence and prosecuting lawyer at the Old Bailey.
Like so many men of his generation, John enlisted in the army at the outbreak of war in 1914, joining the 1/7th Battalion of the London Regiment. He served in France and died there in May 1915, of wounds sustained during trench warfare, just two months after he joined the front line.
John was a keen amateur photographer and, in his spare time, he travelled across East and West Sussex, ‘chiefly by bicycle’, carrying all his photographic equipment – camera, tripod, lenses, hood and negatives – taking photographs of old houses, mills, churches, bridges and village scenes. Thus, he left a remarkable legacy; a collection of over 1,500 photographs taken between 1896 and 1914.
These photographs are all mounted into carefully arranged albums and were clearly part of a well planned project. Each image is captioned, and each album features an introductory note which explains John’s motives and methods, as well a sketch map which shows the villages, towns and parishes visited by John and depicted in that album; each album is also indexed by place.
John’s photographs capture views of Sussex from over 100 years ago; some of the buildings no longer exist today, some have changed beyond recognition, a few remain the same. If you would like to see more examples of John’s work, please visit our Online Picture Gallery at http://www.sussexpictures.co.uk/ to find digital copies of 390 photographs from the collection (to find the John Fletcher collection, go to ‘Galleries’, then ‘WSRO Collections’).