Curiosity of the Month

The House with the Tennis Court

Volunteer archivist Ian Gregory has chosen this month’s curiosity. Ian has an eye for detail, not to mention an encyclopaedic knowledge of history.

W 260 front

Today I was scanning postcards at Buxton Museum and one of them showed a photograph of people playing tennis. There isn’t a precise date but the fashions would suggest Edwardian times.

The first impression is of youth and health. Four young boys are on the court and one is about to serve. Friends or relatives watch.

Is this the whole story? Perhaps it was for them but was everyone so lucky? In the early twentieth century, diseases like tuberculosis were still a real threat even in the developed world. Today many people are worried about obesity leading to heart disease or diabetes; people look back to a time when the young in particular supposedly enjoyed better health.

It depends to some extent on what era you look back to. By the 1960s, diseases that had once been common were rare. Then again, some environments may have been healthier than others. Today, we have different concerns about health than the people in this photograph, but these young tennis players didn’t live in a perfect world either.

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