Walter Kevis's Photographic Studio 1877 - 1953
The Penthouse is one of the very few Victorian photographic studios in the UK that have survived in a recognisable form. READ ABOUT THE OTHER SURVIVORS HERE
The Penthouse is on the top two floors of a building that dates back to at least the 18th century. In 1877 Walter Kevis sliced off the existing roof of the building and replaced it with a purpose built timber framed and clad photographic studio. That space is now the living room of The Penthouse. The former darkroom leading off the studio is now the kitchen.
The studio was entered through a trapdoor from the stairs from the floor below, where Kevis and his wife lived. At the front of the ground floor of the building they ran a tobacconists.
Walter Kevis had been in service most recently as a footman to the Earl of Egremont at Petworth House. From 1877 he ran his very active portrait photography business until 1908. He then handed the tobacconist business to his nephew Herbert Earle. Apart from reprinting some of Kevis's photographs as postcards, Earle was not involved in photography, and appears to have left the studio entirely untouched until 1953. The photographer George Garland helped to rescue some 8,000 glass negatives, which are now held in West Sussex Record Office.
Despite the fact that there were thousands of photographic studios in Britain in the 19th century, extremely few have survived in a recognisable form. So far our researches have identified about ten throughout the UK, in various conditions. To learn more about them, see here
In 1953 Mr A J Boss purchased the studio and established one of the earliest antiques businesses in Petworth.
The current owners have owned the building since 2013.
Carte de Visites and Cabinet Cards by Walter Kevis. The portraits were photographed in his Petworth studio, now The Penthouse. The glass negatives were processed within 15 minutes of the photograph being taken, and printed on site.