Royals at Sandringham - new photographs

They are pictures that show the Royal Family in a bygone, more relaxed era - like George VI out shooting just months before he died and the Queen Mother as a young mum and her daughters, the now Queen and Princess Margaret.

They are pictures that show the Royal Family in a bygone, more relaxed era - like George VI out shooting just months before he died and the Queen Mother as a young mum and her daughters, the now Queen and Princess Margaret.

Offering a glimpse into the life of the Royals from Edwardian times until the 1950s at their country retreat, Sandringham, these most unseen images have been tucked away in the private collection of the man who was once King's Lynn's town photographer.

But now some of his work as photographer to the Royals are going on public display.

They include photographs of George V and Queen Mary, a young Queen Elizabeth II and her sister Princess Margaret and George VI out with his brothers hunting.

Percy Goodchild was the town's photographer and it was he the family called on to snap special occasions.

And now Dick Goodchild is donating his father's collection of prints and negatives to True's Yard Museum in King's Lynn so they can be seen by more people.

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Mr Goodchild, 81, had the fortune to be taken to Sandringham to help his dad when he was a teenager. “I fell in love with Margaret when I was about 14 or 15,” he said.

“They did not have to be remote in those days. They were amiable. It was a much more relaxed time.

“You just drove around to the front of Sandringham House. There was not the formality and certainly no police. There were no security problems. Life was so easy.

“Queen Elizabeth was wonderful. They were good times. Elizabeth and Margaret were a lovely couple of girls.”

Percy started going to the estate with Dick's three sisters to perform small stage production to Queen Mary and George VI. It gave him entry to Sandringham and he was hired by them to take pictures.

“In those days there were not cameras around so if the family wanted a picture taken he would go over there and do it,” said Mr Goodchild.

“He photographed Queen Mary's tea services and the dogs and hounds.

“They would order what they wanted and it was assumed nothing else would happen to them. Father was very precious over the copyright. He never sold any of them to anyone else.”

One photograph shows George VI out shooting just months before he died in his sleep at Sandringham in 1952.

Another shot shows statuettes and photographs stuck onto plywood so they stood up, made by Percy. He used these to create a scene depicting all the Royal family with a painted backdrop in the window of his shop in King's Lynn High Street, now Clarks shoe shop.

In those days Queen Mary would be dropped off at the shop so she could pop in and buy pictures.

“He got on particularly well with her,” said Mr Goodchild. “She was a rather imperious old girl. I was rather frightened of her.”

Once Dick had the job of taking videos of events at the Royal estate, but these were always passed on to the family.

Percy Goodchild moved to King's Lynn in 1908. He had joined the Territorial Army and was stationed at Holkham before going to France in 1917.

After working for a Miss Purdy, he bought the high street shop in 1926 when she emigrated.

“It was quite a venture. He became the town's photographer,” said Mr Goodchild.

The last days of the Goodchild family's involvement with the Royals were portraits of the Queen and Queen Mother when they attended the West Newton WI meetings in Februarys.

But by the 1960s and 1970s it was no longer the intimate affair it had been. Dick had to be smuggled in the back of the hall past hundreds of other press people.

Percy died in 1962 and the family business, run by Dick and his brother Jack, closed in about 1980.

Joanna Barrett, manager of True's Yard museum, said they were very pleased to get the collection and it was hoped they would be on display, digitally, by the beginning of August.

Along with the Royal photographs, there is a plethora of local scenes, including many of Lynn's North End -in all more than 100 photographs.

t Any inquiries can be made to the museum on 01553 770459.

Percy's photographs depict more than a decade of monarchs.

In 1908, when Percy first started work at Sandringham, King Edward VII and his wife, Princess Alexandra of Denmark, were in charge.

Edward died in 1910 seeing George V, the first British monarch belonging to the house of Windsor, take the throne with his wife Princess Victoria Mary of Teck.

He died in 1936 seeing Edward VIII briefly take the throne before he abdicated and George VI succeeded him in 1937. He reigned with Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, at his side until he died in 1952, being succeeded by Queen Elizabeth, our present monarch.

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