Mystery portrait found in Church Stretton street sparks fond memories

A mysterious portrait picture discovered lying near a skip in a Church Stretton street, a notable local family, and a popular radio show from yesteryear...

The picture found by Bill Kerswell in the street in Church Stretton.
The picture found by Bill Kerswell in the street in Church Stretton.

It's like a riddle where you have to join the dots – and Eleanor Horne may have done just that.

Browsing on the internet, Elly came across a Star story from 2020 which told how reader Bill Kerswell chanced across a portrait photo of a young woman, which was lying on the pavement in the Shropshire town.

He thought it might have been dropped or discarded. The photographer was “Andrew Hunter, Manchester and Shrewsbury.”

The picture found by Bill Kerswell in the street in Church Stretton.

Elly, who lives in Lane End, Buckinghamshire, had been trying to find more about Andrew Hunter after finding a picture by him among her aunt's belongings.

"I suspect the image is from our family as they lived in Church Stretton and I have found similar," she said.

"My lovely aunt died this year on January 17 and has a small graveyard plaque in Church Stretton along with her brother, who died just a fortnight or so earlier on December 25, 2022.

"They are there together with other family members, including Charles Silvester Horne, the non-conformist preacher and MP, who was father to Kenneth Horne of the 'Round the Horne' radio show. Kenneth was my father's uncle."

Elly's picture bearing Andrew Hunter's stamp is of her great-grandmother, Elizabeth Stuart Sellers, who lived from 1861 to 1947 and was the wife of John Shuttleworth Sellers. She has another portrait picture which also seems to come from the same studio showing Elly's grandmother, who was always known as Aunty Tom.

A portrait of Elizabeth Stuart Sellers by photographer Andrew Hunter.

"I have no idea why she was called Aunty Tom. Her name was Edith Marion Sellers, who married Herbert Oliver Horne, Kenneth Horne's brother.

"They definitely lived in Church Stretton at one point, but also my father John Horne spent some of his childhood in Aberdeen and also Liverpool."

Elly's grandmother Edith Marion Sellers, who for some reason was known as "Aunty Tom."

With Elly's family photos almost all being in store in suitcases she has been unable to compare the photo Bill came across with that of family members from yesteryear to check for a family likeness, but does have a theory.

"I suppose his photo may be one of my grandmother's sisters, possibly Mary (Muriel) Sellers, who lived from 1884 to 1929.

"I just thought there was likely a connection to my family due to the Church Stretton location but also the photographer – not because I know it is a likeness from a photograph I have at this point."

Silvester Horne was the Congregational minister of a chapel in London and also Liberal MP for Ipswich. He had to leave the church post in 1913 for health reasons and moved to The White House – now demolished – in Church Stretton.

Son Kenneth, who was to become a famous broadcasting personality, was seven when his father died in 1914. After attending a preparatory school at Shrewsbury he went to boarding school at Harpenden, followed by Cambridge.

His Shropshire connections extended into adulthood, as he was a former chairman of the Chad Valley Company toymakers, with two factories in Wellington. He headed the company for three years from 1956 and made several visits to the Wellington factories.

Kenneth Horne died in 1969.

Radio star Kenneth Horne.

Elly added that her aunt Margaret Horne and Margaret's brother David Horne have a plaque in the Church Stretton graveyard on the same plot as their grandfather, Charles Silvester Horne.

"Both my aunt and my uncle had cremations – my aunt in Basel, Switzerland. The plaques on the plot are there more as a remembrance plaque as neither are actually buried in Church Stretton".

Top Stories

More from the Shropshire Star

UK & International News