The album was compiled by Ambrose Gorham, (born 28 October 1853; died 30 June 1933) who lived at Stud House, Telscombe, The album was produced as a project to commemorate Telscombe, and all the photographs were taken in the summer of 1904, probably in July or early August. Beatrice Annie Windless was pregnant when she was photographed either with her son Walter or an older child (AMS6595/1 p18 below); her daughter Norah Winifred was born on 16 August 1904 (baptised 16 October 1904). The baby held by Mary Reed (AMS6595/1 p48 below) was probably Eveline Violet Reed who was born 30 June 1904 (baptised 31 July 1904), not Stephen as suggested in the caption. Further information concerning the people photographed can be obtained from the 1901 census returns (PRO RG13/0919; ESRO XA81/160) and the Telscombe baptism register (PAR 491/1/2/1; transcript available)
The population of Telscombe at the time of the 1901 census was 120 (61 males and 59 females), so well over half the parish are represented here. The more important members of the community are included, such as Charles Steyning Beard, who lived at the Manor House, and the rector; employees of Gorham (not resident in the village at the time of the 1901 census) and some employees of Beard are shown. In all probability they were all inhabitants of the village itself, and people who lived in Brighton Road or Telscombe Cliff (including the coastguards) were excluded. The name of the photographer is unknown, but may well have been Gorham himself: the initials on the album cover are those of his signature, and the shadow of the photographer which is occasionally visible looks like his
The recipient of the album, Frederic John Poole, became rector of St John-sub-Castro, Lewes, in 1910, and was Prebendary of Hurst in Chichester Cathedral in 1911. It is likely that he or a member of his family added the captions on the photographs, the text of which has been italicised in this list. AMS6595/2-3 were found inside the album
Ambrose Gorham owned race horses, which trained on the gallops on Telscombe Tye. His horse Shannon Lass won the Grand National in 1902, and Gorham celebrated by restoring Telscombe church. He purchased Telscombe Farm, including the sheep rights or common pasture on Telscombe Tye, from the trustees of Henry Smith's Charity on 17 September 1923. He eventually owned 260 acres of farmland in the locality, including much of the village of Telscombe, with the exception of the manor of Telscombe, which Charles William Neville purchased from James Ambrose Harman on 1 September 1924. He employed many of the village inhabitants, and was a local benefactor who gave every child a book and a pair of Wellington boots at Christmas. He built the Village Club, a hall near the Manor House, for the village as a place of recreation
Gorham died on 30 June 1933, and bequeathed his Telscombe property and rights to Brighton Corporation for retention in perpetuity, in order that the village should remain unspoiled. A charitable trust scheme, called Gorham's Gift, was established by an order of the High Court in December 1935 to ensure the preservation of the area 'with its present rural characteristics in order that the public and especially the inhabitants of Telscombe, Piddinghoe and Brighton may have recourse thereto for quiet and peaceful recreation and meditation'. The property was administered by the trust and for a long period was leased to Ernest Thornton-Smith until the latter's death in 1971. In May 1975 the aim of the trustees was described as 'to renovate and repair the dwellings under their control in Telscombe, to improve the conditions and appearance of the village and to work towards creating a fully populated living community'