Joseph Mallord William Turner

Dunster: The Butter Cross, St George’s Church, the Castle and Conygar Tower


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 200 × 324 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXXVI 9

Catalogue entry

The shaft of the medieval Butter Cross is seen in the foreground, at the junction of Dean Lane and the upper end of St George’s Street on the north-west outskirts of Dunster. It overlooks the square tower and turret of St George’s Church, almost merging from this angle with the battlements of Dunster Castle beyond. In the distance is the Somerset coast along Blue Anchor Bay to the east towards Watchet, recorded in the Devonshire Coast, No.1 sketchbook (Tate D08687; Turner Bequest CXXIII 170a), where there is also another view of the round three-stage Conygar Tower (Tate D08398; Turner Bequest CXXIII 19a), the eighteenth-century folly seen on the far left of the present drawing.
Traditionally, the Butter Cross is said to have been moved to this spot from the centre of the village in 1825,1 but Turner’s drawing appears to prove otherwise. The overall view is now disrupted by trees and high hedges. There is a view of Dunster Castle from the east on D08953 (CXXVI 7), and a rough drawing, also catalogued as part of this sketchbook (D08945), is inscribed ‘Dunster Castle’. See the entry for the latter for distant views of Dunster made on the same tour.
[Katy Carter (ed.)], Heritage Unlocked: Guide to Free [English Heritage] Sites in Devon, Dorset and Somerset, London 2004, p.67.
Technical notes:
There are five sets of stitch holes near the left-hand edge, and a crease at the bottom right.
Blank. There is some brown staining, and an abrasion towards the top centre which shows through to the recto.

Matthew Imms
January 2011

Read full Catalogue entry

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