Paintings of Amersham by Charles Paget Wade

When I was starting to get deeper into my research of Charles Paget Wade for my book on his life at Hampstead Garden Suburb, I quickly realised one thing: Wade didn’t keep a diary. Not everyone does. But it’s always a disappointment – a tiny one, anyway – to find out that someone I’m researching didn’t keep a diary.

With a diary to use in collaboration with other forms of biographical research, so much more can be gleaned about a person. Without a diary, letters often fill in the gaps, and this is true for Wade, and it’s a big part of why I went to Gloucester Archives (although the majority of the holdings are letters to Wade, not from him).

Wade did write memoirs in later life, which have been hugely helpful in discovering more about the enigmatic man himself. But retrospective recollections can often be misleading, so first-hand documents are always helpful. With Wade, we have a number of these, including receipts for a great many of the shopping trips he went on, picking up antiques around the country. Using these, I’ve been able to piece together journeys and timelines.

But perhaps the most helpful of these records have been Wade’s own drawings, paintings and illustrations. As a draughtsman, Wade very diligently noted the date on his work, usually with the year, and quite often with the date or even the location. Naturally some were done on-site and others later, from memory. But these records go a long way to filling in other blanks in his movements.

Wade’s architectural work was often exquisitely detailed, while his illustrations – a number of which were used for a children’s novel – are more artful and fantastical. Alongside these he also did paintings – some of real locations, and others of imaginary worlds.


Thanks to the National Trust’s staggering Collections database I was thrilled to discover that Wade had painted several scenes at the south Buckinghamshire market town of Amersham – my home town.

Whilst living at Hampstead Garden Suburb (1907-1919), Wade went on a number of travels and tours around England, visiting quaint villages, churches and pubs, as much to trawl the antiques shops as to use the vernacular architecture as inspiration for his own works, both built and imagined.

At Amersham, Wade’s eye was clearly drawn to the 17th century town hall as well as the Crown hotel opposite, one of a number of historic coaching inns that line the high street.

Having discovered that Wade had painted some scenes centring on these buildings, I was pleased to have the opportunity this weekend to try and photograph them from roughly the same perspective. Thankfully, Amersham’s old town has changed very little since Wade visited in 1907-8 and, despite my rough positioning, it’s not hard to see the same scenes that Wade found compelling enough to paint.

The paintings

The Crown

Crown Inn, Amershamby Charles Paget Wade (Shortlands, Bromley, Kent 1883 - Evesham, Worcestershire 1956)
Crown Inn, Amersham. August 15 1909. With TA Lloyd
Snowshill Manor © National Trust
Rear of The Crown Inn, Amersham, 19 August 2017

Market Hall

Market Hall, Amershamby Charles Paget Wade (Shortlands, Bromley, Kent 1883 - Evesham, Worcestershire 1956)
Market Hall, Amersham. October 5 Sunday 1908 with A H Mottram
Snowshill Manor © National Trust
Market Hall, Amersham, 19 August 2017

Church Street

View of Amersham with Clock Turret of Market Hall by Charles Paget Wade (Shortlands, Bromley, Kent 1883 - Evesham, Worcestershire 1956)
Aug 15.09, Amersham with T.A.L [T. A. Lloyd]
Snowshill Manor © National Trust
Market Hall and The Crown from Church Street, 19 August 2017

Market Hall

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The Little Sweet Shop, C Wade Inv August 1909
Snowshill Manor © National Trust
Market Hall water pump, High Street, Amersham, 19 August 2017

Golden hour ride

Hey, I went for a bike ride and —

“Jesus, Paul.”


“You have a dedicated cycling blog, and yet you persist in posting cycling-related posts on your main blog!”

I know, I just… I don’t know. I’m sorry.


It’s just, you see, whenever I try and write a blog post about anything else, one of two things happens. I either get a hundred words in and think, ‘What?’ Or I get two thousand words in and think, ‘Oh, God.’ Plus, those lengthy posts are hard to illustrate, so I tend to need to think really hard about how it’s written.

And, well, I have trouble with that.

You should see the drafts section of this blog. Whole swathes of posts just abandoned. It’s enough to make me feel some kind of vertigo or nausea.

So basically I find it easier to just say, ‘Hey, I went for a bike ride and took some photographs.’

With that in mind: Hey, I went for a bike ride and took some photographs.

It was a perfectly-timed golden hour ride, and about two thirds of the way round, I noticed a large moon rising. I also noticed I had a slow rear puncture. But it was such a lovely evening, I didn’t mind. So the last third of the ride was slow, due to the puncture, and due to stopping to gawp at the pretty.

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Say Hi to Hi!

Screenshot 2014-03-25 08.33.26

Hi, a kind of location-based blogging service, has been in beta for some time now, slowly gathering momentum by way of the moments uploaded by its users. It’s the brainchild of Craig Mod and others, and I’ve been using it for the last eight months or so on-and-off to document little snippets and experiences.

Hi comes out of beta later today, meaning anyone can sign up and start uploading sketches and moments for all to see.

The name Hi comes from the word Hitotoki, the name of an online publication from which Hi draws inspiration. Hitotoki is a Japanese noun comprised of two components: hito or “one” and toki or “time,” and is often translated as “a moment.”

Hi’s USP is probably the way it groups these moments into collections by location and keyword, enabling users to easily browse similar posts from like-minded contributors – or from completely alien places and concepts, if preferred.

Although the process of adding and editing these moments is analogous to blogging, each post kind of exists on its own, removing the chronological flow of a traditional blog. Instead, each moment can be considered a little snapshot in its own right, with additional metadata, such as weather, captured alongside.

In the past I’ve compared the service to Instagram, and while there are similarities, Hi’s strengths lie in the beautiful, large-format browsing experience (while also retaining a very functional mobile website), and in the way it invites longer and more thoughtful writing below each post. That being said, Hi is just as happy with quick sketches of just a few words – a poignant little snatch of an idea or experience tied to a place or time.

Followers can then ask for shorter sketches to be extended if their interest has been piqued, or they can offer a short comment of gratitude, sent in private to the contributor.

As well as being able to browse easily by location, I’ve also really enjoyed browsing by keywords – similar to how essays are grouped on Medium, for example. I’ve ended up following rabbit holes of niche – or less so – keywords that excited me.

There’s some clever maths going on behind the scenes too, as the various collection pages across the website are constantly updated to highlight new, popular, and interesting moments from each section.

This form of browsing also makes it easy to discover new users to follow and subscribe to. This simple, natural discovery process has really helped me engage with the variety of content available.

So far, the positive feelings I associate with using Hi have come from the small but active community sketching, uploading, subscribing and commenting. This has necessarily meant for a very positive atmosphere, with everyone supporting each other and teasing out those little snapshots wherever possible.

The sporadic nature of the service being in beta has also meant for some interesting takes on just how to use Hi – how often, what for, and so on. Some users focus on posting live snippets of their lives, while others post archival shots with stories and memories attached. Others have been using the service to post historic content from other sources.

As Hi goes from beta to public today, I’m hoping for a large influx of new users, and I really look forward to seeing what they come up with, and where Hi is headed over the next six months and beyond.

The service is explained perhaps a little more eloquently on their about page.

If you sign up today and need some users to follow, here are some of my recent favourites:

Some topics worth browsing and subscribing to:

And finally, it’s probably a given that you should follow the whole Hi team (scroll to the bottom to see their profiles):


Scotland 2007 re-visited

Two things:

1) In the depths of winter, it’s helpful to look ahead to the summer solstice – or back one of those in the past – and the weeks and months that surround it as some sort of light at the end of the tunnel; reassurance that winter will turn to spring and so to summer; these short days are getting longer by a few minutes each day; look at the adventures you’ve had/can have.

2) Ninety-nine percent of the time, I take photographs and either edit them shortly afterwards, and then ‘share’ them with the web. Or I might take them, then edit them a few weeks or months later. Often, I will browse old sets of photographs. I’m a hoarder and a nostalgist, after all. But rarely – very rarely – will I review a set of photographs as if new, and sort them, crop them and edit them, just as if I had only just taken them. Well, for some reason, I decided to do this last week. I had a set of photographs I took on a camping trip around Scotland in June 2007. And I suppose it has echoes of the idea of re-editing words I’d written in 2007, too. The idea that the methods I will have used to edit the photographs back in 2007 would probably have produced markedly different results to my current methods and tastes. I don’t know what I was trying to prove. I just thought it would be fun to re-edit some old photographs I’d not looked at much. So here they are.

Locations: Glen Coe, Fort William, Mallaig, Aviemore.


A wintry morning in Milton Keynes, 20/01/2014

Before work yesterday, I decided to leave my bicycle at home, pick up my dSLR for the first time in a while, and walk in instead.

I’m glad I did.

I’ve gotten very comfortable using my iPhone 4S to take photographs over the past year because it produces results that are almost always ‘good enough’, and quite often surprisingly decent.

But for all the portability of the device, and the ease of editing and sharing the images moments after I take them, I still can’t shake the tactile joy of using a dSLR. With the satisfying shutter sound, the use of two hands and a viewfinder to frame the shot, along with the higher-quality sensor and glass, it’s a formidable package. And it’s always worth remembering to take my dSLR out with me – it almost always results in shots I’m very happy with, and at the very least reassures me that I can whip it out at a moment’s notice.

As a final note, my buddy Troels kindly lent me his camera and lens before Christmas. And while I’m happy enough using my lighter dSLR body, the attached 17-85mm lens he lent me sure trumps the standard 18-55mm kit lens. I love the range it gives me. My 50mm prime is a fantastic go-to lens for a lot of situations, and so fast in low light, but quite often I want to pull right back and include as much of the scene as I can. Or it’s nice to have to option to zoom in a bit closer and make use of the interesting light to pick out a detail even more precisely than the 50mm allows. So the 17-85mm is really giving me lots of fun opportunities to capture the world around me, and is pushing me to use my dSLR more again. Thanks Troels!

Anyway. Enough waffle. Here are some photographs from my walk to work yesterday morning:

Lodge Lake

Lodge Lake

Milton Keynes


Milton Keynes