Open any popular newspaper and there is a good chance of seeing an informal picture of a member of the Royal Family. But it was not always thus - before 1936 Royal images were strictly formal. All that changed one day in June of that year when photographers Lisa and Jimmy Sheridan set off from Welwyn Garden City to photograph the Duke and Duchess of York and their daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret, then aged ten and six, who lived in the Royal Lodge in Windsor Park.
Lisa was the artistic one of the pair, deciding when pictures should be taken, while Jimmy was a skilled photographer. Their images of the family relaxing in the garden with their dogs went around the world.
The Sheridans, who traded as Studio Lisa, became Royal photographers and had many more photoshoots with the King and Queen, as the Duke and Duchess became in 1938. When Queen Elizabeth II broadcast her first televised Christmas message in 1957, two framed Studio Lisa photographs of Prince Charles and Princess Anne were displayed on her desk. Lisa and Jimmy were justifiably proud of this connection and displayed a large Royal Coat of Arms on the front of their house, as well as a Warrant above the door 'By Royal Appointment'.
They had started in Broadstairs, Kent, but in 1934 decided to move nearer to London and discovered Welwyn Garden. Number 14 Parkway was newly built and proved ideal with room to add a studio in the back garden. As well as Royal commissions they had a large commercial practice. Lisa kept an eye out for photogenic local children to advertise products such as baby foods.
Jimmy enjoyed watching the town's expansion and recorded its growth. His photographs now comprise a unique historical collection. One of their two daughters, Dinah, became a top film actress, starring in Genevieve in 1953.
You can read more about Studio Lisa in a well-illustrated book by Rodney Laredo, 'Informally Royal - Studio Lisa and the Royal Family 1936-1966'.
Number 14 is on the west side of Parkway near the Campus. Look out for the frame above the door where the Royal Warrant was displayed.
This article by Geoffrey Hollis for the WGC Heritage Trust was first published in the Welwyn Hatfield Times on 6 July 2022.