Photographs of past enter the digital age

Victorian Canon R C MacLeod.' A photograph of the gentleman has been attached for you (copyright Northumberland Archives at Woodhorn).
Victorian Canon R C MacLeod.' A photograph of the gentleman has been attached for you (copyright Northumberland Archives at Woodhorn).

A PIECE of Mitford history is moving into the 21st Century in a bid to find a global audience.

Former vicar Canon Roderick Charles MacLeod captured hundreds of images of village life as an enthusiastic amateur photographer at the turn of the 20th Century.

Now his lantern slides will be given an international platform on a dedicated Facebook page.

The collection is being posted online by Woodhorn Museum and Archives, which holds several hundred of the slides.

Events and Exhibitions Officer Liz Ritson said: “From the end of the 19th Century, Canon MacLeod documented family and village life in and around Mitford. Several hundred of his lantern slides were rescued and deposited in Northumberland Archives by George Brown of Mitford when the old vicarage was being demolished.

“One of the things that is particularly special about this collection is how delightfully informally many of his images are, rather than the stiff, artificial poses often associated with the period. As a result they provide a fascinating and very human glimpse into life in rural Northumberland at the turn of the 19th and 20th Centuries.”

Roderick Charles MacLeod was born in London in April, 1852, as the youngest son of Norman, 25th Chief of MacLeod of Dunvegan, Isle of Skye.

He attended Harrow and graduated with a degree in Law and History from Cambridge in 1874. He was ordained the following year and married Katharine Louisa Jelf in 1885. The couple had three children, Brenda, Eila and Ian.

It was in 1897 that the family moved to Mitford, where Canon MacLeod served for 37 years. In 1910 he was appointed Rural Dean of Morpeth and was elected an honorary canon of Newcastle Cathedral in 1916.

He had many interests and talents, and was a keen musician, often playing the organ during his own church services. He was an authority on Gothic architecture, while his love of history led him to become the archivist of the MacLeod clan, publishing several books about the family.

However, he is best remembered locally for his love of photography.

Woodhorn will present his images on Facebook through a different theme each month and archive staff hope they will encourage others to get in touch with their own stories.

Ms Ritson said: “MacLeod’s Facebook page is public so we would love to see the page develop with further information posted from anyone interested in local history, MacLeod or Mitford genealogy, or even just the history of photography in general.

“Facebook is a great platform to open up our collections to an international audience and to get people talking about our collections. We can’t wait to see who ‘likes’ the page and what further information other people have to share through the site.”

The Facebook page, Canon R.C. MacLeod, has been made possible with a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.