Below is a montage of photographs from Little Snoring, starting with the post-mortem (after-death) studio photo. (Click to enlarge, then roll mouse over to see commentary).
These photos belong to the family tree begun by John TUCK and Phoebe TUDDENHAM who married in 1829 at Little Snoring's St. Andrews Church.
There has been a mystery surrounding these photos from the beginning, when they were discovered in Polly Southgate's house and handed down to my mother.
I remember my mother telling me, about the post-mortem photo, "that is Polly's grandmother" - Phoebe Tuddenham - and it may well turn out to be so, but for reasons given below there is a little bit of doubt (and relatives do not always have the correct facts, I have found!)
Post mortem studio photographs were quite common in the Victorian and Edwardian era and they were considered to be a good momento of a dead relative (especially a child or baby) in an age when photographs were not generally available to the public, as they are today.
To achieve a life-like pose, a contraption was placed behind the sitter's chair, with wires for the head, chest, arms and legs. Some people were posed upright, some seated. Babies were often shown on the lap of the mother or an older child.
- You can find many examples of post-mortem photos online, and the Wikipedia page is a good place to start
As well as the photo above which -- if it really is Phoebe Tuck (nee Tuddenham) -- dates to 1894 when Phoebe died aged 82, I have a few more photos of the same family. They ought to clear up whether this is really Phoebe, because the same person (it seems) is standing at the doorway of their Little Snoring cottage.
Although this lady (as you'll see) appears to be identical to the postmortem lady, the photo was not taken in a studio, and home photography was a rare and expensive hobby before 1894.
The fashions appear also to be closer to the turn of the century. See alongside
Who is she?
The other problem is the stout lady on the right. Who is she? She has features strikingly similar to Sarah Ann - Phoebe's daughter - but is fatter and is also clearly white-haired.
Sarah Ann Southgate (nee Tuck) - the mother of the nurse-midwife Mary-Ann or Polly Southgate whose nursing records you can see on her own page - looks a similar age to "postmortem lady" whereas Sarah Ann would have been about 46 if this photo was taken circa 1890, before Phoebe Tuddenham died.
It cannot have been taken after 1894 for this woman to be Phoebe Tuddenham; however, the following photo shows Polly and her mother Sarah Ann around 1914 (it was probably taken to give to George when he was a soldier in the first world war.)
As you can see, Sarah Ann here looks younger and slimmer and has some colour in her hair, thus ruling her out as the second woman in this photo. Her features do seem to suggest a family resemblance however.
Finally, the death and burial of Sarah Ann took place in June 1925. That at least is recorded fact. Here is her funeral card with the addition of a photo taken in 1924, the year before she died.