William Weaver Baker was known by his middle name Weaver, and lived in Exeter for many years. He photographed some of Exeter’s most important historic buildings and objects. His work has been forgotten but he should be regarded as one of the city’s most important historians.
A photographic hobby
Weaver Baker’s job as a chemist gave him easy access to the chemicals and materials he needed for taking and processing photographs. He was a member of the Exeter Camera Club, and the Exeter Pictorial Record Society which held its meetings and had dark rooms in the museum building. Weaver Baker was a skilled photographer and he shared his passion by giving lectures to local groups. He accompanied his lectures with magic lantern slides containing his photographic images.
Many of Weaver Baker’s magic lantern slides are now in the museum’s collection. He carefully wrote a title on each slide describing its theme or location. One of his most interesting slide sets records the architecture of Exeter Cathedral, including corbels and chapels. Another set records the Cathedral’s medieval misericords. He also photographed St Katherine’s Priory, and a collection of silver objects made in Exeter, which belonged to Bruford’s silversmiths. Documents in the museum’s archive show he was familiar with the museum and its staff and he was employed to photograph temporary exhibitions and museum objects. But he was also interested in the fun side of life – one set of slides called ‘Kitten studies’ features cats sitting on pedestals. Another set shows a collection of dolls in different costumes and poses.