William Kilburn’s 1848 Chartist Daguerreotypes

William Kilburn's Daguerreotype photo of the Chartist meeting at Kennington Common on 10 April 1848
Figure 1: William Edward Kilburn, Great Chartist meeting at Kennington, 10 April 1848. Source: Royal Collection Trust.
Early photograph of Chartist meeting at Kennington Common in 1848.
Figure 2: William Edward Kilburn, Great Chartist meeting at Kennington (second image), 10 April 1848. Source: Royal Collection Trust.

Remarkably, a pioneering photographic record survives of the culmination of one of the most significant days in England’s nineteenth-century political history—William Kilburn’s fascinating Daguerreotypes (Figures 1 and 2 above) of the Chartist mass meeting held at Kennington Common (now Kennington Park), London on 10 April 1848.1William Edward Kilburn, ‘The Chartist Meeting on Kennington Common, 10 April 1848’ [two Daguerreotypes], Royal Collection Trust, RCIN 2932484 and RCIN 2932482. Among the earliest photographs of a crowd, these historic images of a demonstration widely feared of precipitating insurrection have received occasional attention from scholars since they were rediscovered in the Royal Collection in the late 1970s; however, surprisingly little detailed analysis has been published to date.2See, for example, David Goodway, London Chartism, Cambridge, 1982, pp. 141–42. Continue reading “William Kilburn’s 1848 Chartist Daguerreotypes”