Joseph Mallord William TurnerInscription by Turner: Notes on West Country Topography, from John Feltham's 'Watering and Sea-Bathing Places' ?1811

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Inscription by Turner: Notes on West Country Topography, from John Feltham's 'Watering and Sea-Bathing Places'
From Vale of Heathfield Sketchbook
Turner Bequest CXXXVII
Date ?1811
MediumGraphite on paper
Dimensionssupport: 181 x 228 mm
Acquisition Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXXXVII 1
View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Catalogue entry

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 1 Recto:
Inscription by Turner: Notes on West Country Topography, from John Feltham’s ‘Watering and Sea-Bathing Places’ ?1811
Turner Bequest CXXXVII 1
Inscribed by Turner in ink (see main catalogue entry) on white wove paper, 181 x 228 mm
Inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘1’ bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CXXXVII 1’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
The whole page is taken up with the following inscription:
Lulworth cove water for 80 Ton burthen
Portland 4 miles from Weymouth
Ferry at the end calld Smallbrook the water calld the Fleet 5 miles
Chesil bank extends from Port to Abbotbury 9 miles long .. Chiswell
The pebbles get smaller as the [sic] receded from Portland
Light House at Portland built by Mr Johns of Wey 63 feet high conical geometrical staircase
Torbay to be seen the distance 25 leagues near is Cave’s hole perforated thro from E to West
The inhabitants of Portland the ancient Belares. the Reevepole the Saxon mode of keeping account of land
Some traces of a Roman ecampment [sic] behind the Portland Arms
Abbotbury founded by Orcus Steward to the household of K Canute St Catharines Chapel sea marks | Swannery and De[...]y [i.e. ‘Decoy’]
Dorchester &c a mile to the right a R <Encampment> [inserted above: ‘amphitheatre calld Manbury’] near the village of Moncton [‘k’ inserted above, i.e. ‘Monckton’]. Maiden Castle | the most perfect Encampment of an Oval form arear between 40 & 50 acres treble ditch
Lulworth Castle built about 1600 seat of Thos Weld. entertained their Majesties
Weymouth 128. on the R Wye Melcombe Regis formerley Wey carried a great trade rivald by Poole
Bay 2 m extent Ralp Allen E. of Bath constructed the first Machine 1760 [corrected from ‘1660’] for his own use Tues Frdy | market days Spring at Nottington contains hepatic phlogisticated & fixed air digestive salt of | Sylvius vegetable and mineral alkali strongly resembling the Moffatt water
Barn-door or Durdle rock on the north shore
Lyme . Regis where the Duke of Monmouth landed
Teignmouth 187 – 15 from Ex. Danes landed 800 and by the French div[...]d into two E and W by a | rivulet [‘calld the Tame’ inserted above] West T belongs to Bishop Teignton E to Dawlish. partly Saxon or Early Norman | corbel of Head animals on the circular apertures [?down] or staircase narrow window C head
Pipe clay . trade and fish the R rises on Dartmoor passes by Bradley an ancient Gothic | House the property of Tho Lane Esqr
Shaldon under the Ness at Shilstone a Cromlech [‘the Coit 14 feet 3 supporters 7 high’ inserted above] south of the cromlech at Drew Steignton is a | loggan stone about 18 feet E and W 10 high.
Haccombe . the smallest parish seat of the Carews on the C door the remains of 4 Horse shoes | of a Horse that saved L Carew by swimming a great distance in the Sea
Torr Abbey built by Lord W Brewer reign of King John some windows or arches remain near | where is Kent hole naval officer ventured and was near suffocated Compton Castle contends with | Hays Farm near <Exeter> Exmouth as to the birthplace of Sir [‘W’ inserted above] Rayligh
The inscription continues inside the front cover opposite (D40864) and is transcribed again below to facilitate discussion of the whole passage:
Berry Pomeroy Castle came into the Seymour family 1556 one of them comm[?enced] the Castles
Torbay 12 miles from Hopes nose to Berry head
Brixham where William 3 landed 5 Novr 1688 a well which Ebbs and Flows Several times a day
The old apophthegm Omnium rerum vicissitudo, applicable to the present town of Fowey Capt Grouse | extremely pleased with it. Place House belongd to the family Trefry – Tin found here
Menabilly 2 miles SW.
Turner’s notes on West Country sites are taken from A Guide to All the Watering and Sea-Bathing Places; with a Description of the Lakes; a Sketch of a Tour in Wales; and Itineraries, by ‘the Editor of the Picture of London’, identifiable as John Feltham. What appears to be the first edition was published in London in 1803, although Turner seems to have referred to a revised text, as noted in the course of the transcriptions given below. The book was frequently reprinted and revised, with editions in 1805, 1806, 1810, 1813 and beyond until at least 1825. Of three editions consulted by the present author, that of 1810 conforms most closely to Turner’s notes, while the 1803 and 1815 texts differ in small but significant ways, showing that neither was the direct source. One mileage noted by Turner is slightly different again from the variant figures in these texts, suggesting that he may have used a further edition. The type was entirely reset for each edition, and the 1810 pagination is given below unless otherwise noted.
It seems likely that Turner made notes from this very detailed but bulky book (with long sections on Bath, inland spas and Brighton among other seaside towns, and extensive excursions around them) as ‘homework on things to see’1 in preparation for his tour of the West Country in the Summer of 1811, when he sketched many of the places he mentions here; most of the material from the tour is dealt with in a separate section of the present catalogue. Giving a potted version and partial transcription, Thornbury suggested that in his ‘eagerness for facts or truth’ Turner ‘takes notes like a spy or a pilot, that seem quite out of his province’.2
However, it is likely that Turner was gathering documentary material on ‘history and antiquities, modern engineering, geology and manufactures’3 for a projected long poem to accompany the engravings of his watercolours commissioned for the Picturesque Views on the Southern Coast of England, as discussed in the Introduction to the Devonshire Coast, No.1 sketchbook (Tate; Turner Bequest CXXIII). Although he toured Devon in 1813, as described in a separate section of the present catalogue, 1811 marked his only comprehensive tour of the entire coast of the West Country, and there are a few sketches of Dorset subjects in the current sketchbook which presumably also date from that year, as discussed in the Introduction. The inland Devon sketches towards the end of the book were probably made on the 1813 visit.
The sites Turner mentions are set out in the same order below, with short extracts from the often very extensive texts in the 1810 edition of the Watering and Sea-Bathing Places to show the sources of Turner’s phrasing, cross-referenced to his 1811 sketches:
Lulworth Cove, Dorset: Feltham 1810, p.457: ‘Lulworth Cove is a fine natural curiosity. It forms a snug circular harbour, in which vessels of eighty tons may ride with security.’ See under Tate D08833 (Turner Bequest CXXIV 22) in the Corfe to Dartmouth sketchbook, and folios 22 recto and 23 recto of the present book (D10237, D10238; CXXXVII 21, 22).
Portland, Chesil Beach and Abbotsbury, Dorset: p.457: ‘Portland, about four miles from Weymouth, is commonly called an island, but is, properly speaking, a peninsula ... The nearest way from Weymouth is to be ferried over an inlet of the sea at the end of Smallmouth sands ... On the Portland side of the ferry, the beach or ridge of pebbles, is worthy the attention of every visitant, who will be astonished to find a loose pebbly shore, extending from Portland to Abbotsbury, a space of more than nine miles ... The pebbles, contiguous to Portland, are nearly the size of an egg, but they gradually diminish, till they are lost in fine gravel. That inlet of the sea ... is called the fleet ... [p.458:] In Portland are two good houses of entertainment; the first stands at the entrance of Chiswell’. The 1803 edition gives ‘Chissel’ (p.386), but Turner clearly notes Chiswell (as the name of a small settlement, not the adjacent Chesil Beach), as given in the 1810 edition quoted here. For an overall prospect of Weymouth and Portland, see Tate D08835 (Turner Bequest CXXIV 24) in the Corfe to Dartmouth sketchbook.
The lighthouse at Portland Bill, nearby Cave Hole, and the view towards Torbay: p.458: ‘The new light-house, built by the late Mr. Johns, of Weymouth, is a well-adapted conical edifice, sixty-three feet high, containing inside a geometrical staircase ... From hence, on a clear day, may be seen Torbay on the right, and the Isle of Wight on the left, at the distance of twenty-five leagues ... not far off is Cave’s Hole, a large cavern perforated by the sea ...’ Portland Bill is approximately half way between Torbay to the west and the southern tip of the Isle of Wight, each being about fifty miles away. For Portland’s Bow and Arrow or Rufus Castle, subsequently mentioned by Feltham but not noted here by Turner, see Tate D08837 (Turner Bequest CXXIV 26) in the Corfe to Dartmouth sketchbook.
Portland’s history: p.459: ‘The inhabitants, amounting to about 2000, who are chiefly employed in the quarries, are a robust and hardy race. They were formerly famous for slinging of stones, and were the ancient Baleares of Britain ... On the summit of the hill, behind the Portland Arms, are some traces of a Roman encampment ... [footnote:] The landlord of the Portland Arms usually has it in his power to shew the Reevepole, or Saxon mode of keeping accounts, and by which the bailiff of the island collects the manor dues ... as on this pole every acre of land within its limits is described.’
Abbotsbury: pp.459–60: ‘This inelegant town, distant about eight miles from Weymouth, receives its appellation from its ancient abbey, founded by Orcus, steward of the house-hold to King Canute ... In the vicinity is St. Catherine’s Chapel, a curious remnant of antiquity, which, standing on a high hill, serves as a sea-mark ... The swannery and decoy for wild ducks in this neighbourhood, likewise engage the attention of the inquisitive.’ There is an early watercolour of the abbey’s granary by Turner, after Edward Dayes (Tate D00893; Turner Bequest XXXIII V), but there are no identified sketches to indicate whether Turner visited the village in 1811.
Dorchester and Maiden Castle: p.460: ‘About half a mile from Dorchester, on the right, lies Manbury, a complete Roman amphitheatre, covering an acre of ground, in which 10,000 persons might have been accommodated. On the road to Dorchester lies the village of Monckton, and immediately behind it stands Maiden Castle, one of the most perfect remains of ancient fortification in this kingdom. It is of an oval form, containing an area of between forty and fifty acres, surrounded by a treble ditch’. For Dorchester see D08834 (Turner Bequest CXXIV 23) in the Corfe to Dartmouth sketchbook.
Lulworth Castle, Dorset: p.461: ‘About sixteen miles from Weymouth stands Lulworth castle ... It is the seat of Thomas Weld, esq. ... The magnificent manner in which Mr. Weld received their Majesties and the royal family, when they did him the honour of a visit some years ago, would reflect a lustre on the taste, opulence, and loyalty, of the first subject in the kingdom.’ See Tate D08828 (Turner Bequest CXXIV 19) in the Corfe to Dartmouth sketchbook.
Weymouth, Dorset: p.449: ‘Weymouth ... stands on the south-side of the river Wey, which separates it from the Town of Melcombe Regis, on one of the finest bays in the world ... Formerly Weymouth carried on a considerable trade, and was the principal port in the country, but it is now rivalled by Poole ... Being sheltered by the surrounding hills, possessing ... a calm bay, forming a semicircle of more than two miles, it is extremely well adapted for the purpose of health and pleasure ... The celebrated Ralph Allen, esq, of Bath, recommended Weymouth as a bathing-place, about the year 1760, and the first machine seen on the beach was constructed for his use ... The market days here are Tuesdays and Fridays ... [pp.454–5:] At the distance of twelve furlongs from the turnpike ... lies the small hamlet of Nottington, famous for its medicinal spring, which has been found extremely serviceable in cutaneous and scorbutic disorders ... It appears from analysis to contain hepatic, phlogisticated, and fixed air, the digestive salt of Sylvius, vegetable alkali, magnesia, &c. and strongly resembles the Moffatt water in Scotland.’ See Tate D08445 and D08446 (Turner Bequest CXXIII 44, 44a) in the Devonshire Coast, No.1 sketchbook.
Durdle Door, near Lulworth Cove: p.456: ‘Barn Door, or Durdle Rock, on the north shore, is a surprising rock projecting from the cliffs’. There are no identified sketches.
Lyme Regis, Dorset: p.283: ‘Here the unfortunate Duke of Monmouth landed in 1685, for the execution of his ill-concerted design against James II, which involved himself and many others in destruction.’ See under D08429 (Turner Bequest CXXIII 36) in the Devonshire Coast, No.1 sketchbook.
Teignmouth, Devon: p.417: ‘Teignmouth, distant 187 miles from London, and 14 from Exeter, is noticed in the chronicles of ancient times ... Here the Danes landed about the year 800 ... In latter times it was plundered and partly burnt by the French ... It is divided into two parishes, East and West Teignmouth, separated from each other by a rivulet called the Tame.’ The historical notes are omitted from the 1815 edition. The 1803 edition (p.350) gives the distances as ‘187’ and ‘12’, whereas Turner gives the distance to Exeter as ‘15’, perhaps indicating that he consulted another edition, unless he transcribed the figure carelessly. The 1810 text continues (p.418): ‘East Teignmouth church stands near the beach. It ... bears marks of Saxon, or at least early Norman, architecture, as may be inferred from the round tower. Connected with the square one, the narrow windows, with semicircular arches, and the corbels, or heads of men and animals ... attract the eye of the passenger. It is an appendage to the living of Dawlish, as West Teignmouth is to Bishop’s Teignton.’4 Turner’s word ‘staircase’ does not appear in the 1803, 1810 or 1815 editions. See under Tate D08499 (Turner Bequest CXXIII 68a) in the Devonshire Coast, No.1 sketchbook.
Teignmouth (continued) and Bradley Manor, Devon: p.419: ‘Its chief commerce consists in the exportation of pipe-clay to Bristol, Staffordshire, Liverpool, and other places. Some vessels are, however, built here.’ A passage about West Teignmouth’s market on pp.417–18 includes the following on the latter page: ‘By an excellent local regulation, the inhabitants are allowed to supply themselves with fish, before any is sold to the dealers.’ On p.417 Feltham observes that Teignmouth ‘stands at the efflux of the Teign, which romantic river rises on the forest of Dartmoor.’ Bradley appears on p.425: ‘This house, which retains its ancient gothic grandeur, unmixed with modern architecture, lies in a valley of the same name ... It is the property of Thomas Lane, esq.’ The owner’s name, which Turner notes, is omitted from the 1815 edition (although it is given in the index, p.545).
Shaldon, the Spinsters’ Rock, Shilstone, near Drewsteignton and a nearby logan stone: p.420: ‘By a ferry pass the Teign to Shaldon, which lies adjacent to a promontory called the Ness.’ The stones are described under ‘Drew-Steignton’ on p.422: ‘On a farm called Shilston, is the only Cromlech in this county. The covering stone, or quoit, hath three supporters; it rests on the pointed tops of the southern and western ones, but that on the north side supports it on its inner inclining surface. This latter supporter is seven feet high, and the dimensions of the quoit are each way about fourteen feet ... South of the Cromlech, at a little distance, is a curious logan, or rocking-stone. It is in the midst of the Teign ... It is in length about eighteen feet, west and east, and at the highest end, to the west, it is ten feet in height.’5 There may be a view from the Ness in the Devonshire Coast, No.1 sketchbook (Tate D08501; Turner Bequest CXXIII 69a).
Haccombe, Devon: p.423: ‘This mansion belongs to the family of the Carews, to whom it descended from its ancient lords, de Haccombe. Haccombe is said to be the smallest parish in England ... In the chapel, a very picturesque object, are some curious monuments of the Haccombe and Carew families; and, on the southern door, are the fragments of four horse-shoes, belonging to a horse which is said to have swam with one of the Carews on his back, a great way into the sea, and back again, by which a considerable wager was won.’ Haccombe lies between Newton Abbot and Torquay, on or near Turner’s 1811 route, but no sketches are identified.6
Torre (sic) Abbey and Kents Cavern, Torquay, Devon, and Compton Castle, Marldon, Devon: pp.425–6: ‘Torr Abbey. Was built by William Lord Brewer, in the reign of King John. Some of its original arches and windows remain ... About half a mile beyond Torwood, a fine old seat of sir Lawrence Palk, in a coppice, lies the celebrated cavern called Kent’s Hole, the opening of which is of moderate dimensions ... Within, however, it contains chasms and intricate windings ... Not long since, some naval officers, rashly venturing into this horrid cavern without a guide, their lights became extinguished; and, had not one of them found his way out, and returned with assistance to his companions, it is probable they might have been buried alive in this cimmerian retreat.7 Compton Castle. This place, which is very ancient, and is now the property of James Templer, Esq. contends with Haye’s Farm, near Exmouth, for being the birthplace of Sir Walter Raleigh.’ There is a view of the coast around Torquay in the Corfe to Dartmouth sketchbook (Tate D08853; Turner Bequest CXXIV 38).
Berry Pomeroy Castle, Devon (this and the remaining subjects are from Turner’s notes inside the front cover (D40864)): p.426: ‘Berry Castle ... was long the baronial castle of the De Pomeroys ... About the year 1556, the castle and its precincts became the property of the Seymours, one of whom began a magnificent edifice within the walls, which, however, was never completed.’ There are sketches of the castle and its surroundings in the Devonshire Coast, No.1 sketchbook (various pages from Tate D08628 to D08642; Turner Bequest CXXIII 138, 145).
Torbay and Brixham, Devon: p.427: ‘The whole curve of Torbay is computed at twelve miles, between two capes, called Hope’s Nose and Berry Head ... At Brixham, on the western side of the bay, William, Prince of Orange, landed, November 5th, 1688. Here is a remarkable well, which ebbs and flows several times a day.’8 See under Tate D08863 (Turner Bequest CXXIV 48) in the Corfe to Dartmouth sketchbook.
Fowey, Cornwall: p.249: ‘The old and well-known apophthegm omnium rerum vicissitudo was never more strongly exemplified than in the site of the town of Fowey ... From a town of the first consequence ... this place may be said to be buried in the shade of obscurity ... The noble range of ocean before the town, the surrounding hills, the rocky scenery, the old castle, with other venerable ruins, afford ample scope for the genius of the painter and the poet. The late ingenious Captain Grose was so delighted with Fowey, that he used to say, he found a haunch of venison every twenty yards ... [p.250:] Here is a coinage for tin, of which great quantities are dug in the neighbourhood ... [p.251:] Adjoining to Fowey, and within the borough is Place House, a venerable fabric belonging for ages to the family of Trefrey. About two miles S. W. from Fowey is Menabilly, the seat of Philip Rashleigh, esq.’ For Fowey see under Tate D08371 (Turner Bequest CXXIII 5a) in the Devonshire Coast, No.1 sketchbook. ‘Grose’ (Turner’s ‘Capt Grouse’) is presumably Francis Grose (1731–1791), the antiquary and artist.9
Shanes 1990, p.9; see also Butlin, Wilton and Gage 1974, p.66, Shanes 1981, p.7, Hanley 1992, p.6, and Hamilton 1997, p.145.
Thornbury 1862, I, pp.370–1; Thornbury 1897, pp.483–4.
Gage 1987 p.42.
See Ebdon 2005, pp.13–14.
See ibid., p.4.
See ibid., pp.4, 15.
See ibid., p.15.
See ibid., p.16.
See John H. Farrant, ‘Grose, Francis (bap. 1731, d. 1791)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, accessed 17 May 2011,; as suggested by David Blayney Brown, author of other entries in the present sketchbook, in conversation with the author, May 2011.
Technical notes:
A short tear near the top right corner has been repaired. A small hole half-way down the right-hand edge seems top relate to a former means of fastening the front cover of the sketchbook (see under D40864).

Matthew Imms
May 2011

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