Thames Landscape Strategy

The Amazing Arcadian Thames Camera Obscura

The Camera Obscura at Ham Fair, June 2022


The TLS created a modern reinvention of an Eighteenth-century tea tent with an integral camera obscura that can be used as an educational tool to increase understanding about the remarkable Arcadian landscape.  


These ‘obscura tents’ were once a common feature along the Thames providing a magical way for everyone to interpret the environment around them. This modern and portable tent incorporates a camera obscura at its top – reflecting an image of the surrounding landscape downwards to a table at the centre of the tent.  


This tent forms the centrepiece of TLS educational activities to be used at organised educational days, special events and at fairs across the region.  

For more information on how to have the camera obscura at your event/school please email:



The History of the Camera Obscura

These obscura tents quickly became a marvel of the Scientific Age, a tool for the most fashionable gentlemen of the day to show off their good taste and knowledge.

It is known that camera obscuras were a feature of Georgian Richmond,  obscura tea tents being erected in the gardens of riverside villas to be used by the gentleman as a tool to interpret the landscape around them.  One 18th century  tea tent survives,  the Duke of Buccleugh Chinese Tent, now kept at Boughton Hall in Northamptonshire.