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NOSTALGIA: William Silas Spanton - a picture from Bury St Edmunds' Spanton Jarman collection

A gifted artist, William Silas Spanton gave up his place at the Royal Academy of Arts in London to take over the business on the death of his father in 1870.

He diversified into the sale of art materials and ran the business successfully for 30 years.

William was prominent in local affairs and was involved in the conversion of Moyse’s Hall into a museum.

Wiiilam Silas Spanton. From the Spanton Jarman collection (5720222)
Wiiilam Silas Spanton. From the Spanton Jarman collection (5720222)

In 1901 he sold the business to Henry Isaac Jarman, and he and his family returned to London where he pursued his career as an artist and writer.

He died aged 85 after a motor accident on Christmas Eve in Blackheath.

-- This picture is part of a remarkable collection of 4,000 photographs in the care of Bury St Edmunds Past and Present Society which offers a glimpse into the town’s history.

Taken by two families of professional photographers, the Spantons and the Jarmans, the images span a period from the 1860s through to the outbreak of World War Two.

The fragile glass plate negatives were donated to the society in 1997 and in recent years many of these have been ‘digitised’ thanks to a Lottery grant and donations. They can be viewed at www.burypastandpresent.org.uk where you can also find details about membership and the group’s programme of events and lectures.

The Spanton-Jarman collection is held at the Bury St Edmunds branch of the Suffolk Record Office.

For more details about the Record Office, including its programme of talks and courses, visit www.suffolkarchives.co.uk.