Focus on the past

Every picture tells a story - the further back in history they take us, the more fascinating the stories they reveal.

Russborough Photo Archive 1

We go behind the scenes with the collections team, currently working on documenting an important part of the collection's history, the Beit Photographic Archive.

This vast collection of photos take us directly to a slice of real life, giving us insight into aspects of life at Russborough and, offering a wonderful portrait of the extraordinary lives of Sir Alfred and Lady Clementine Beit.


Sir Alfred’s photographic collection spans nearly a century – he got his first camera at age ten in 1913 and continued to document life until 1993. This commitment has left us with a wealth of images, in the region of eight thousand, that provide a far more panoramic and in-depth view of history than one can normally expect from a private photograph collection.

Looking through the collection archives you’ll find a little bit of everything, from adorable dogs (some things don’t change) to Bright Young Things, exotic locations to simple portraits; parties, travel, friends and the arts.

Sir Alfred’s true gift, to us, was an inherent curiosity across a breath-taking range of subjects.

The first selfie?

Russborough’s 3D cinema displays not only his talent, but also a keen interest in modern technology, as his interest in photography veered into experimental techniques and new equipment. In the Beit Museum at Russborough, visitors enjoy just a small fraction of the images Sir Alfred took throughout his life.

Sir Alfred’s true gift, to us, was an inherent curiosity across a breath-taking range of subjects – art and architecture, places, cultures, events, and of course people feature prominently. Even nearly a century later, this curiosity can be felt in the many thousands of images he captured.

Russborough Photo Archive 5
Russborough Photo Archive 6
Russborough Photo Archive 3

The majority of Sir Alfred's photos of people across the world and from all walks of life are candid, he was interested in simply capturing a moment, rather than presenting it in a certain way. Lady Beit, on the other hand, appears to have played the role of muse, and often posed for her husband.

The sheer number of photographs to catalogue, which not only include photos taken by Sir Alfred - but images he collected throughout his travels and life - help to preserve years, interactions, daily life, the time itself, the period between two great wars and the time of reflection that came after.

Russborough Photo Archive 4

It is a truly wonderous thing to have access to the past in such a visual, interactive way. In this sense, these photographs are priceless, and we are taking every effort to treat them as the incredible gift they are to lovers of history everywhere.

We look forward to sharing them with you.