Click here to return to the Index page

copyright V&A

Lady Wolverton,
née Edith Amelia Ward

as Britannia

Lady Wolverton is seen here in the costume of Britannia which she wore to the Devonshire House Ball. From dates on the extant negatives, it is clear that Lady Wolverton went to the Lafayette studio after the Ball on two occasions to be memorialised in her spectacular costume.

In this image, made against a painted seascape backdrop, Lady Wolverton holds a trident, and wears a plumed helmet with raised laurel wreath and a cuirass of silver disks.

Her sash bears the Garter motto "Honi soit qui mal y pense" and her double layered skirt is embroidered with the thistle of Scotland and the rose of England.

Of the five extant negatives, only this seated image of Lady Wolverton shows the triple-masted ship, the symbol of Britain's dominion of the seas, and the lighthouse representing the safe shores of home - symbols which were added to the negative by the studio retouching department.

copyright V&AThese familiar attributes, usually seen behind Britannia on the British penny, had only recently been removed (1895) - an unpopular change which some thought presaged the decline of British naval power and which had elicited much discussion in the letters pages of the press.

Rule Britannia!
Britannia rule the waves.
Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.

James Thompson, Rule Britannia (1740)


Negative number: V&A L1434 and L1435, 09-07-1897