Robert Howlett Grave Restoration Appeal

06 January 2017

Region: Headquarters

We are no longer accepting donations as the grave has been restored.  Thank you very much to all those who contributed.

There are only two days to go to raise £2,000 to restore the grave of pioneering Victorian photographer Robert Howlett.  £1,565 (or 78%) of this total has already been achieved through the generosity of 38 individuals, but project founder Rose Teanby ARPS is appealing to others to step forward and contribute.  

She explains the concept of the project: "This is the final resting place of pioneering photographer Robert Howlett - the man whose photograph of Isambard Kingdom Brunel is now one of the most famous images in history. His revolutionary portrait with the launching chains of the Great Eastern steamship was years ahead of its time in 1857 and gave Brunel an iconic image encapsulating his life as a ground breaking engineer and man of iron.

Howlett tragically died just one year later at the age of 27 and was not buried in London but in a quiet corner of Norfolk at his father's church of St Peter and St Paul, Wendling. At the time of his unexpected death he was at the peak of his career with commissions from Prince Albert and Brunel amongst many others during his final year.

Howlett, born in Theberton, Suffolk, was one of the first generation of professional photographers, experimenting with this new "sun picture", and left a stunning legacy of images for us as a unique window into the innovative Victorian era that forms the basis of much of our world today. He was described as being in the best of health, full of boundless enthusiasm with a great future ahead but lost his life as a result of a prolonged fever unrelated to his work, in the prime of his life.

Howlett's father was the parish priest at this church and organised a large memorial to his son in December 1858. Since then he has been forgotten by many and his grave has become unrecognisable.

As you can see from the photograph, taken in 2015, it is in need of a great deal of attention though it has now been cleaned. Quotes have been obtained for the base to be replaced, any necessary restoration to be carried out and the inscription to be re- engraved.

None of these early pioneers should be forgotten - we are all connected to this precious heritage whenever we take a photograph today."