An intriguing postcard

Off piste again today, as I take a detour to Wimbledon! A dear friend has just given me a postcard, found on Ebay, with a Belgian connection, and originating from a photographer there, E. Callcott Quinton.

Wimbledon Postcard

I headed straight to the wonderful British Newspaper Archive where a quick search for the photographer produced nothing, but another for +Belgian +Wimbledon did, and I discovered that the Duchesse de Vendome (Princesse Henriette de Belgique before her marriage), sister of Albert King of the Belgians, had a house on Wimbledon Common.

One Sunday in September 1914, the Duchess herself took the collection at her parish church, the Church of the Sacred Heart, Wimbledon’s impressive Roman Catholic Church, on behalf of the Belgian Relief Fund.

I suspect that this postcard records that event, and that the woman in the centre is none other than the Duchesse de Vendome herself, for on Wikipedia I found this photo of her.

Could the girl next to her, carrying a collecting basket, be one of her daughters, Marie Louise or Sophie?  Both were educated in England and both worshipped with their mother at the Sacred Heart Church.  And maybe the young boy is her son Charles-Philippe who would have been 9 1/2 at the time.

The priest walking with the Duchess I haven’t identified either – the church is next to Jesuit Wimbledon College [1] where 12 Catholic priests are listed  in the 1911 Census.  The Rev Henry HORN S.J. was Headmaster (or Prefect as Studies as he was called) in 1914 – could it be him? Or possibly the Parish priest of the church (who may or may not have been the Rev David BEARNE S.J.)?

I shall certainly be taking this postcard with me for the “show and tell” at the Tracing the Belgian Refugees Workshop in Manchester on Monday!  Maybe someone there will know more…

[1] Not surprised to find this on the Wimbledon College website: During the Great War, the College increased rapidly in size, with 201 boys in 1916-17. This figure included 50 Belgian Catholic refugees who had fled their home country due to the German occupation. According to records under July 1916, 140 Belgian boys had either passed through the College or were being educated there. The sudden influx of students strained the College’s resources, but the Jesuit Fathers still managed to provide a solid education to all its students.