Sunday, 29 July 2012

Holne August 1853. [Please click on images for larger versions.]

 The water colour shows Holme Church and Church House Inn.  This house has changed very little since the water colour was done as can be seen from the following photograph.

Church House Inn Holne.[1]

By comparing the water colour, photos and Google Earth it is possible to work out the approximate location from which the water colour was drawn. It appears that a house and the farmyard would probably block any modern artist from capturing this view, but it is still possible to find several of the buildings shown in the picture.

A Google Earth Image marked to show the approximate view point
from which the water colour was drawn.

The view point must have been on the lane to the east of the village.
The blue arrows show the artists view point.

It is not entirely clear who the artist was, but it is very probable that it was Sarah Nicholson sister of William Nicholson, who was the Rector of Corscombe in Dorset.  

At letter from William Nicholson to his sister Sarah Nicholson.  The letter is written in a cross pattern.  This way of writing was used to limit the number of sheets sent, in the days before the Penny Post, because postage was paid by the sheet.

The letter written to Sarah Nicholson reads as follows:

                                                                                                                                Holne, Ashburton.
My dear dear Sarah,
                I hope by this you are snug and comfortable at Folkestone.  The weather is broken up here, and I fear will not be much better with you.  May the change be of benefit to you both!  Take as much air as you can without risk or over fatigue.
                Your present is most acceptable, it is decidedly the right article, for which I have long been on the look out.  How very busy you must have been.  I sometimes feel disposed to bewail my hard lot that I cannot witness your energetic proceedings.
                We hope to hear tomorrow of your safe arrival with good accounts of dear Mother.  Do you think it necessary to return to meet the Travellers?
                I will give you some account of our proceedings yesterday we heard that Prince’s Town and its prison , you have looked at from Benjay Tor, were well worth a visit.  So off we set.  The day proved gloomy, but rain did not come down till some hours after our return.  The greatest incident was that we completely lost our way on the desolate moor and for an anxious hour were wandering about, without even the track of a cartwheel to guide us, amidst huge boulders, rocks and unwished for bogs, only admired by such specimen hunters as yourself.  However even Eliza forgot to hunt for the bottle beauties, our eyes being directed far and wide for some traces of a trodden path, and John’s confidence began to grow pale.  I resolved to preserve in a straight forward direction, knowing that at the worst we could always return, at length we found ourselves on the borders of an oasis in the wilderness, a well managed model farm in the midst of the desolation of the barren moor.  For this point all went on horrid enough.
                The horses behaved well only Eliza complained of bumps behind, I mean the back part of the carriage.  I greatly wished you had been with us, and as we were returning homeward, John very much regretted that Miss Sarah had not seen what we had seen that day.  Prisoners are prisoners all the world over, we certainly saw plenty of ill looking fellows, working in gangs, the greatest number in your favourite bog, cutting and carrying turf for fires.  We found the Sun at Prince’s Town very dirty and comfortless, and do not intend to go there again.
                Eliza is busy with her elementary books, she often wishes you were here, especially when we meet with any thing a little amusing, for we find it very hard to get a good laugh now you are gone.
                You will not get many sketches at Folkestone I fear, as far as I remember the houses look as if they had fallen from heaven in a sort of hail storm.
                Take a good scampering ride now and then along the downs of Dover and Deal.
                Do tell me exactly how you are and give me a full account of dear Mother.
                This is a most depressing day for me and the throat has not forgotten to sing its old song.  However as the Doctor says I continue to hold my ground.  Do not forget us.
                                Give my best love to dear Mother.
                                Your very loving Br.

Sarah often stayed with her brother William at Corscombe, and it appears from the letter that she may have travelled to Dartmoor with William during August of 1853 and to Holne, before setting off by September to Folkestone to stay with her Mother.  William’s letter makes it clear that Sarah had previously been up Banjay Tor, and was going to be sketching at Folkestone, so it is quite likely that these are earlier examples of her work.

Holne Bridge, the oldest in Devonshire
Augst 1853

Sarah appears to have visited the New Bridge at Holne which was built in about 1413. There was also an even older bridge so she appears to have been mislead as to its being the oldest bridge in Devonshire.  It is recognisably Holne Bridge, however Sarah appears to have struggled with the perspective as the arch appears to be rounder in modern photos and the approach ramps flatter. Has the bridge been modified since 1853?

We have no idea who they were staying with, or where. It is possible that it was in the Church House Inn. Was William acting as a stand in for the Parson perhaps during the summer? 

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