Historical information

One of five group and individual portraits of the Noble family of Kew, two in the rear garden of what is presumed to be ‘Charnwood’, in Station Street, Coburg. The photographs date from the period c.1890-1914. One of the larger framed photographs is a portrait of the entire family group, while another is of two of the children, Frederick and Winifred. The father, Frederick William Noble was a businessman, and, at one period Secretary of the Victorian Creamery & Butter Company in South Melbourne. Later he was to manage J. Bartram & Co., Ice & Cold Storage Department in Flinders Lane. By 1906, the Noble family had moved to Kew, living for almost 20 years at 100 Walpole Street before relocating to 26 Molesworth Street in the mid 1920s. The five photographs in the collection reveal details of family life and social values as expressed through attire. The family is formally costumed in a manner indicative of their social status. Mrs Noble, in one of the large framed portraits, is dressed in a sombre manner in a long, dark-coloured long-sleeved, high-necked gown. It is difficult to know whether she is dressed in mourning wear in this black and white photograph. It was not uncommon for a woman to regularly wear mourning attire due to the high mortality rate in the Victorian era. This situation was compounded for women due to the size of extended families. A woman might rarely be out of mourning due to the death of a parent, a sibling, a husband, a child or a near relative.


The portraits of the Noble family children, particularly Frederick and Winifred, show the elaborateness of formal attire worn by the children of wealthy families during the late Victorian era. Winifred is dressed in a long cotton dress and a broad-rimmed hat; both liberally covered in lace. Winifred and Frederick’s lace collars extend to their shoulders. Winifred’s diaries, covering the period 1908-50, are now in the collection of the State Library of Victoria. The most detailed of the diaries is from 1914, just before the outbreak of World War 1, and includes ‘Accounts of my Dancing Evenings - Season 1914’. The diaries were the inspiration for an art exhibition by Jim Pavlidis in 2014. One of the family’s two sons, Frederick, was to work at The Age newspaper for 50 years. His obituary records that “He was regarded as the epitome of accuracy and a fount of knowledge on many subjects, but especially cricket, the Royal Melbourne Show and Gilbert & Sullivan”. With Robert Morgan he compiled Speed the Plough, a history of the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria and its role in developing agriculture in Victoria.

Physical description

Framed photographic half portrait of Winifred Noble in the original carved wooden frame. Winifred lived at 'Avalon' in Molesworth Street, Kew.

Inscriptions & markings

Handwritten label on rear "Winifred Noble c 1910-12"