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.
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:
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
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?
 Photo courtesy of http://www.churchhouseinndartmoor.co.uk/