Carnival Postcard Mystery Solved

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Photograph, carnival costume including a decorated bicycle, Aldbourne, Wiltshire, 1909, an image from the Wiltshire Life Society collection.

The discovery of this photo is one of my happiest memories from early days of volunteering at the Wiltshire Museum, Devizes. My fellow volunteers often found items relating to Aldbourne and, knowing my interest, called me over to have a look. This laminated photo was part of the Wiltshire Life Society Collection and formerly part of a display at Avebury. No clues as to the location of the picture, or identity of the young person. Just a date: 1909.

Fast forward our village preparations for the 100th Renewal of Aldbourne Carnival in 2015. A copy of the same photo was found in the collection at Aldbourne Heritage Centre. I carried a copy of the photo with me and showed it to more or less everyone I met, trying to find out if it rang a bell from any family album. It went into the local paper, and even got a mention on BBC Wiltshire.

From memory, there’s a snippet in the Millennium Book of Aldbourne that acknowledges research that carnival in Aldbourne in its present form can be dated back to 1915; whereas, with decorated bicycles (like Pewsey) a slightly earlier date of 1905 was mentioned. If only there was some way to be sure that the note ‘postemark 1909’ was accurate.

Roll forward again to October 2020 and eBay (almost ten years to the month that I first met our young friend with the decorated bicycle). There’s the Aldbourne postmark 1909, and now all we have to do is solve the mysteries arising from the card itself: who is ‘Lizzie W’, who is ‘Harry’ and who is ‘Miss Annie Cox’?

With thanks to Graham Palmer
With thanks to Graham Palmer

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