Young couple from Cheltenham, England

What it is:

Carte de visite (CDV) photo measuring just under 2.5 x 4.25 inches.

What I know about it:

Photographer is H. A. Acton of Cambray Spa, Cheltenham, England.  Otherwise undated and unidentified.


A reader’s comment about a previous post suggested that the woman’s clothing may have been intended to mask a pregnancy.  I immediately thought of this photo, and the suspicious bump this woman is sporting.  Pregnant, perhaps?  It almost looks like she’s got a small child hidden under her skirts, but I’m sure we can dismiss that option.  Perhaps the way she is leaning against that decorative wall thing is causing her dress to poof out in the front, but that seems to be the sort of problem that would have been noticed and corrected.  Perhaps stomach bustles were all the rage in Gloucestershire back then, and I just wasn’t aware of this trend?  Nah, I’ll still vote for pregnant, though I’m happy to entertain contrary opinions.  If she is pregnant, might that have anything to do with what brought them to the Cambray Spa?  I just don’t know.  Meanwhile, let’s not forget there’s another person in the picture, too.  Check out that stripe up his pants.  To my modern eyes, stripes like that represent tuxedo pants or military pants.  Perhaps one of the costume experts can explain if such a stripe signified something similar that I’m just not recognizing here, or if it was merely decorative?

4 comments on “Young couple from Cheltenham, England”

  1. I really like her jacket. I wonder if it is a Chinese-inspired style, or as you suggested in regards to the man’s pants, a military-inspired look.

  2. I think the jacket looks Chinese-inspired, too. Re: the telltale bump: I think it starts a bit too low down on her body to be a baby; looks more to me like poofed-out skirt. On the other hand, that jacket seems just like the type of thing they would wear while expecting. But would a Victorian woman ever have a photo taken while pregnant? I would be interested to know!

    • You know, it’s funny, I actually Googled images of pregnant women because I wondered if it was too low, too. The results left me uncertain. I can completely buy the idea that it’s just her skirt poofing out, it just seemed like the photographer might have posed her differently after seeing such a wardrobe issue. Good question about Victorian women being photographed while pregnant. I don’t know. It would make sense that they would at least try to hide it.

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