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Of great interest in the past week has been the emergence of a collection of what are thought to be the earliest photographs taken of Sussex. Dating to 1851 and depicting portraits, as well as rural scenes around Horsham, they were the work of Captain Thomas Honeywood, a well-known local figure who led the volunteer fire brigade in the town, a body of men who appear in the crowd of one of the scenes that he captured.

Estimated to make up to £70,000 at auction later this month, the real value of this collection is not only in its capturing of early views of the county and its folk, but in the way is brings history and our connection with the past alive.

Many of the portraits show people in their finery, with a finger tucked into the pages of a book, as though they have just been interrupted reading. Why so? Among other things to convey the message to anyone looking at the image that this was a person who could read and was a cut above the hoi polloi.

Perhaps even more reassuring is just how familiar many of the country scenes remain today. For all the industrial and commercial development of the 20th century, with its urban sprawl, cottages, farms and hillsides survive now as they did then. So these photos are not simply historic records, they are food for the soul. Long may this be the case.