Country Life must have been a journalistic revolution when it was launched in 1897. I have been looking at pages featuring a moated Suffolk house published little more than a year later and was struck by the space devoted to photographs which was innovative at the time.
I was looking at it because the January 1899 issue featured Crow’s Hall just outside Debenham where I live. It is one of the buildings opening this weekend as part of the Heritage Open Days scheme, giving people a chance to visit places that are not normally open to the public.
Debenham has a remarkable number of medieval buildings and six of them and one modern structure are open this Saturday and Sunday. It is also a delightful place to visit with three pubs if you get thirsty walking around. Details are at the Debenham Society website. For information on places throughout England, excluding London, visit the Heritage Open Days site.
That is the advert and now back to Country Life. It was founded by Edward Hudson, a friend of the great gardener Gertrude Jekyll. Trying to find out more I discovered that he was not only someone who used the latest technology to print a very high quality magazine he was involved in what were really the first “videocasts”.
Hudson worked with the publisher George Newnes and another man on the development of the Mutoscope, a news peepshow. The words surrounding its launch are familiar in their enthusiasm for the new: “If there is any value in the shares it comes from the fact that we are going to be a part of the illustrated journalism of this country in the future.”
In 1900 Home Mutoscope was launched with the declaration that, “the novelty of the illustrated newspaper has worn down a little, and what the public want just now is a mutoscopic or biographic newspaper, in which the reader may see the progress of current events.”
It failed but is a nice reminder that rapid change has been something journalists have lived with for a long time. (Information from victorian-cinema.net)