yeovil People

George Monck Hand



George Monck Hand was born in Southwark, Surrey, on 26 June 1828, the son of John Hand (1780-c1828), Captain of Marines, and Sophia Anne née Tracy (b1789). George was baptised at St George, Camberwell, Surrey on 29 July 1828 at which time his father was deceased. By 1851 George was studying at the Terrace House Training Establishment for Schoolmasters in Battersea. The Western Flying Post reported that on 2 September 1857, at St John's church, Yeovil, George "of Chatham" married Sarah Leigh Rendall, only daughter of Giles Rendall, confectioner of Silver Street, and his wife Melina. George and Sarah were to have a daughter, Alice (b1860). By the time of the marriage Giles Rendell was deceased and Melina was running the confectionery shop next door to the Half Moon Inn.

It was in the confectionery shop that George Hand briefly set himself up as an artist and photographer. It appears that George split the confectionary shop into two separate premises. For his photographic studio, George erected a "large glass room attached to the premises".

He placed an advertisement in the 10 November 1858 edition of the Bridgwater Mercury that 'heliographic portraits' could be obtained at his studio in Silver Street, 2 doors from the corner of Middle Street. (Heliography is the photographic process invented by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce around 1822. The process used Bitumen of Judea, a naturally occurring asphalt, as a coating on glass or metal that hardened in proportion to its exposure to light. When the plate was washed with oil of lavender, only the hardened areas remained). George was also listed as a "heliographist and daguerrotypist" in Harrison & Harrod's Directory of 1859 (his only trade listing).

George Monck Hand died of consumption on 19 May 1860 in the Silver Street premises. He was aged just 31. His will was proved in September 1860 in which he was described as an Artist. His effects were valued as "under £300" (around £30,000 at today's value). The following month Sarah let out his studio to probably the last of the visiting professional photographers, H&J Walter of Oxford Street, London.  

No examples of George Hand's photographic work have yet been discovered.

In the 1861 census his 33-year old widow, Sarah, was listed as a "Pastrycook employing 23 men, 1 boy & 1 girl" still living in Silver Street with her daughter Alice. Sarah's mother Melina died in 1862. In the autumn of 1862, at Southampton, Sarah married Henry White and they lived in the Silver Street premises. In March 1868 Henry placed an advertisement in the Western Gazette "To Photographers: to be let near the centre of Yeovil, an excellent glass room and part of a shop; apply Mr H White, Silver Street, Yeovil".

In the 1871 census Henry and Sarah were living in Silver Street and Henry gave his occupation as a confectioner. Next door, in the original confectioner's shop, converted to a photograpic studio, adjacent to the Half Moon, was George T Rawkins and his family. George was briefly a photographer.




This advertisement for George's studio appeared in the 10 November 1858 edition of the Bridgwater Mercury.


This is an enlargement of the central section of a photograph dating to 1900. The Half Moon is the three-storey building just to left of centre and Giles and Melina Rendell's confectionery shop, where George Monck Hand set up his photographic studio, is the two-storey building at centre. 


The advertisement placed in the 27 March 1868 edition of the Western Gazette by Henry White for the let of the 'glass room' photographic studio in Silver Street created by George Hand.