This blog takes a look at the work of a Victorian New Forest resident and his extensive photograph collection, part of the Duplessis archive (9A20). This collection is currently being catalogued as part of the Hampshire Archives Trust grant-supported cataloguing project A Way through the Forest – opening up New Forest archives.

Jules Joseph Hyacinth Duplessis was born on 30 June 1834 in Arras, Pas de Calais, France. In 1853 he was commissioned into the 17th Regiment Artillerie de Cheval, and according to his army records had a promising future. His army career ended in 1857, when he married Emma Balls and moved with her to England. After a brief residence in Essex, they purchased Newtown Park Estate near Lymington in 1858. 

From 1858 until his death, Jules spent his life improving and working on the estate. He was a keen botanist and rebuilt the present farm. One of his main interests though was photography, and the Duplessis collection held at Hampshire Record Office (9A20) contains many of his albums and loose photographs. In the words of his grandson Hugo, ‘Jules was an early photographer, he wondered round the estate and the lanes with a portable camera, a formidable contraption half or full plate with bellows, black hood and tripod and needed a pony and trap, not a strap to carry it, snow scenes in particular fascinated him’. 

Many of his photographs feature his two children from his second marriage, Juliette (known as Lalla) born in 1881 and Gerald born in 1883. 

Juliette Duplessis (9A20/D1/6) 

Gerald Duplessis (9A20/D1/6) 

Gerald and Juliette, Gerald is reading a magazine entitled ‘Lady Cyclist’ (9A20/D1/5) 

A number of photographs are of the Newtown Park grounds as seen in these snow scenes. He also took photographs of the estate farm and other aspects of the work of the estate. 

Greenhouses at Newtown Park (9A20/D1/5) 

Newtown Park house in the snow (9A20/D1/12) 

Harvest time at Newtown Farm (9A20/D1/10) 

He took many photographs of the New Forest, including this one of gypsy families 

(9A20/D2) 

The family owned a fishing lodge at Goodworth Clatford, and there are many photographs of them boating and fishing on the River Test and of the village of Goodworth Clatford. 

Juliette and Gerald Duplessis on the River Test (9A20/D1/10) 

Goodworth Clatford village  (9A20/D1/5) 

Goodworth Clatford station (9A20/D1/10) 

Despite being the photographer, there are several photos of Jules himself in the collection, usually dressed for country pursuits such as fishing or shooting as seen here, and with some of his beloved family pets. 

Jules Duplessis (9A20/D1/6) 

Jules Duplessis  (9A20/D2) 

Jules died on 11 Jan 1913 and his second wife died three days later. His eldest son Gaston inherited the property and lived at Newtown all his life, dying there in 1956 aged 96. The estate was sold by the family in 1958, ending 100 years of ownership by the Duplessis family. Thanks to his photographs though, we have a wonderful snapshot of life there in the late nineteenth century. 

Juliette Duplessis (9A20/D1/7) 

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