Blindstamp "William Petre / Essex / Thorndon Hall" on mount.
The Petres were Catholic aristocrats whose title dates from 1603 and the accession of James I to the English throne. William Bernard, the 12th Baron Petre, was himself a devout Catholic and an active patron of the Catholic church in Britain. Alongside the many photographs he took of the family seat, Thorndon Hall, Petre often widened his photographic subject matter to include landscapes and architecture outside his native Essex, including this view of the Catholic boy's school, Stonyhurst College which was also photographed by his contemporary, Roger Fenton. While the architectural grandeur of the school and its adjacent church are clearly visible in this image, Petre's composition privileges the natural majesty of the lake over human artifice, celebrating it as a source of beauty and as a place which forges companionship between men.