Ghost Images

Over the last month, the Archives and Library team have been working on a new ‘ghost image’ project.

Thanks to a new partnership with a local U3A group, we have been digitalising our photographic archive. This has enabled us to create a series of ‘ghost images’. To create these pictures, we stage a retake of the old photograph. We then cut part of the old image out on Photoshop, then layer it on top of the new image. By lowering the opacity of the old image, you can then see through it, creating the ‘ghost’ effect. 

Image 1: Downside Monastic Community, 1894. 

Ghost image of monks outside abbey

Taken outside the monastery in the cloister garth. The image shows many members of the community who were instrumental in making the Downside we know today, including: Cardinal Aidan Gasquet, Vatican Librarian (third row, five from right); Dom Stephen Rawlinson, one of the most highly commended military chaplains of the 21st century, (second row, far left); Abbot Edmund Ford, instrumental in the building of Downside Abbey (bottom row, four from left); Dom Wilfred New, first Head Master of Downside School; Dom Ethelbert Horne, noted archaeologist (third row, far right); Dom Alphonsus Morrall, Cathedral Prior of Bath (bottom row, two from right).


Image 2: The building of Downside Abbey’s Tower, 1890. 

Ghost image of abbey entranceThis image shows the building of the abbey tower before the Nave was built. If you look closely at the door to the tower, you will see that in the ghost image you can spot the builders stood on the scaffolding. 


Image 3: The installation of the Great Bede Bell, 1903.

Ghost image of monk next to downside abbey bell

Here you can see Dom Gregory Quinlan standing with the Great Bede, Downside’s bell. Great Bede plays a G Bourdon, and weighs 5 tons, 6 cwts 3 qrs 0lbs. It was originally hung in Beverley Minister between 1900-1901, before being installed at Downside in 1903. On its journey, it travelled mainly by train before being pulled by horse and cart to Downside. It was cast in memory of Dom Bede Vaughan, second Archbishop of Sydney (1877-1883), and inscribed on the bell is Voco Alumnos Ut Gratias Hodie Agant Numini (an acrostic of Vaughan). It is cast by the Taylor Bell Foundry, who also cast the Great Paul bell at St Paul’s Cathedral. To hear the sound of the bell being played, click here

We will be hosting a conference next year on historic photography – get in touch if you would like to hear more.

If you would like volunteer with us to help digitalise our archive, contact us here