These breathtaking vintage photos of England, taken just weeks before World War II on August 1939, show the calm before the storm. They offer us a view of the past in vivid color and let us compare a the England we know now with one that had not yet seen WWII.
These photos were believed to be lost for 75 years, but were recently discovered by Barney Britton, a grandson of the couple whose honeymoon is documented in these photos. He discovered them while cleaning his grandmother’s attic.
The photos are a rarity because they were shot on color film, which was very expensive at the time.
The photos tell the story of two newlyweds, Margaret and Denys Gardiner, on their honeymoon. We get to see not only the beautiful beginning of their life together, but also glimpses of a time long gone, only moments before their idyllic peace vanished and chaos broke out.
The couple at the start of their trip around England in their Morris 8 Convertible
A field of poppies, probably somewhere in Yorkshire
Margaret, aged 26, was trained as a nurse and worked in aid stations and hospitals during WWII. Here she is greeted by some local children during her honeymoon on a stop in Yorkshire. Margaret lived to be 100 years old and died just recently this year
Right: Denys with some ice cream in Norfolk, left: relaxing in the shade. Because of his medical condition, he was not sent to war and lived to be 79
Denys walking away from the camera into a Yorkshire field
The couple and their cat Edgar camping. They were joined by their cousin Eldred, who was an accomplished photographer
Sheep in Hyde Park, London
Flamborough Cliffs, Yorkshire
Norfolk, England, at sunset
Denys standing on Flamborough Head in Yorkshire, looking East across the North Sea towards continental Europe
A cottage, probably somewhere in Norfolk. Denys can be seen standing at left, with Margaret waiting patiently in the car for Eldred to stop taking pictures and come back to the car
Town of Shernbourne. The sign pictured was removed during WWII, but a replica now stands in its place
A glimpse into how people lived in pre-war England
Ducklings in Norfolk
Abbot Upcher’s Conduit outside the Church of All Saints in Upper Sheringham
The Thames Embankment in London
St James’ Park, London
Left: Lincoln City. Its cathedral – one of the most beautiful in Europe – can be seen in the background. Right: Prentice Street in Lavenham, Suffolk
Village of Stiffkey, in Norfolk
A ‘Yorkshire roadblock’
Left: Hampstead Heath, London. Right: Lincoln, England
Flower fields, Yorkshire
The couple on their wedding day. Margaret and Denys married at the Church of the Holy Trinity in Hampstead, London in April 1939