The photographs show a young Doctor Stanton Coit on holiday with friends on the French coast in 1889. A leading figure in the Ethical Movement, Coit was a minister at South Place Ethical Society and President of the West London Ethical Society (which was affiliated to the Ethical Union).
As luck would have it, Coit wrote to his mother from France revealing the story behind the set of photographs:
Yesterday afternoon we had a very absurd time. Roger Tileston photographed me in my bathing suit; then he and Hart, another friend, buried me in the sand (all but my face). They put an umbrella over me with an inscription on the sand and photographed me with my eyes shut. The photograph (of which I saw the negative) looks too ghastly for anything; so that I am in doubt whether I shall send you a copy when they are finished. But the others you shall have.
Unfortunately, the reply from Coit’s mother did not make it’s way into the British Humanist Association archive, so we will never know what she made of his antics!
Images © British Humanist Association
Bishopsgate Institute Reference: BHA/1/14/1