Charles Ash Talbot was born at Waltham Abbey, Essex, in 1859; he was the eldest son of Jennett and Samuel Walter Talbot, a fruiterer, florist and photographer.
Samuel Walter Talbot, (born c1835), Charles’s father, had been born in the City of London, but after his marriage to Jennett Pryor (born c1834, Waltham Abbey, Essex) he settled in Waltham Abbey, his bride’s home town, where he worked as a fruiterer and florist. The union of Samuel Walter Talbot and Jennett Pryor produced at least three children – Charles Ash Talbot (born 1859), Lucy Elizabeth Talbot (born 1861, Waltham Abbey) and Percy Edwin Talbot (born 1864, Waltham Abbey).
By the time the 1871 census was taken, Samuel Walter Talbot and his family had moved to St Leonards-on-Sea on the Sussex coast. The 1871 census records Samuel W. Talbot as a thirty-five year old “Fruiterer & Florist” at 21 Grand Parade, St Leonards, Sussex. Samuel Talbot’s shop was located next door to a photographic portrait studio at 21 Grand Parade, St Leonards, occupied by the photographer Henry Knight (born c1848, London). It was during this period that Samuel Talbot became acquainted with photography and decided to change career.
In 1876, Samuel Walter Talbot and his family were in Bexhill, where Mrs Talbot gave birth to their youngest child, Walter Eric Talbot during the 2nd Quarter of 1876.
By 1881, Samuel Talbot had established a photographic portrait studio at 90, Queen Street, Ramsgate, Kent. The census return records Samuel Talbot as a forty-six year old “Photographer” living with his wife and four children in the living quarters attached to his “West Cliff” studio at 90, Queen Street, Ramsgate. All three of Samuel Talbot’s grown up children were assisting him in his Ramsgate studio. Charles, aged 21, Lucy, who was 19 and sixteen year old Percy all give their occupation as as “Photo Assistant” on the 1881 census return. By 1884, Charles Ash Talbot, the eldest son, had taken control of his father’s studio in Ramsgate.
Charles Ash Talbot in Bexhill-on-Sea
By 1887, Samuel Talbot’s two eldest sons, Charles and Percy, had returned to the Hastings & St Leonards area of Sussex and, in that same year, Charles married Fanny Parks (born 1867, Hastings) and settled in the rapidly expanding seaside resort of Bexhill-on-Sea. Shortly after his marriage, he established a photographic portrait studio in Station Road opposite the offices of the Bexhill Chronicle newspaper. At this time there was only one other photographic studio in Bexhill-on-Sea – the studio of Arthur Bruges Plummer at 3, Devonshire Terrace.
Charles announced the opening of his photographic studio, which he had named “Rembrandt House Studio”, in Station Road in an advertisement in the Bexhill Chronicle on 21st April 1888.
Although he was based in Bexhill, Charles Ash Talbot became a founder member of the “Hastings and St Leonards Photographic Society” and attended their inaugural meeting, which was held at the School of Art in Claremont, Hastings, on 22nd October 1888. The “Hastings & St Leonards Photographic Society” was open to “all interested in Photography, Amateur or Professional”.
Over thirty people attended the inaugural meeting, with the majority being amateur photographers though about a quarter of the membership, were professional photographers. Professional photographers known to have attended the inaugural meeting included George William Bradshaw, Henry J. Godbold, Melancthon Moore, George Pearson, and William A. Thomas – all photographers with studios in Hastings or St Leonards.
Charles Ash Talbot was the only Bexhill based photographer to attend the inaugural meeting of the Society.