Taken from a viewpoint on the left bank of the River Tees, slightly upstream of Barnard Castle Bridge, this sketch returns to a site drawn in 1797 in the North of England sketchbook (Tate D00935; Turner Bequest XXXIV 29). Comparing the two sketches it will be noted that the chapel visible on the bridge in 1797 has disappeared by 1816. This writer has formerly described the present aspect as north-east but in fact it is north-west.1 Together, Turner’s two sketches formed the basis of a studio watercolour Barnard Castle (Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, Connecticut)2 painted in about 1825 and engraved in 1827 for the series Picturesque Views in England and Wales. Turner sketched similar views in the Yorkshire 2 sketchbook (Tate D11207, D11208; Turner Bequest CXLV 103, 103a), which accompanied him on the tour of 1816, and returned to the subject again in 1831 in the Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border sketchbook (Tate D25825; Turner Bequest CCLXVI 33).
Barnard Castle dates from the late eleventh century, but assumed its present form under Bernard de Balliol in the early twelfth. The present bridge is medieval in origin but was extensively repaired or rebuilt in the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. Turner’s viewpoints are readily accessible on public footpaths, and the castle is in the care of English Heritage.