Joseph Mallord William Turner

Egglestone Abbey, Bridge and Mill


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 125 × 206 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXLVII 30 a

Catalogue entry

The sketch records the view down the River Tees, with the old packhorse bridge over Thorsgill to the right, the remains of Egglestone Abbey above, and to the left, Abbey Bridge, with Egglestone Mill before it on the right bank. It revisits almost exactly the same viewpoint as a sketch made by Turner in 1797 in the North of England sketchbook (Tate D00934; Turner Bequest XXXIV 28), and prefigures another made in 1831 in the Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border sketchbook (Tate D25827; Turner Bequest CCLXVI 34a)
Egglestone Abbey stands on a bluff above the right (south) bank of the Tees about a mile above Rokeby, and half a mile below the town of Barnard Castle. The abbey was built in the later twelfth century to house a community of Premonstratensian canons. It was dissolved in 1540 and in 1770 was bought by John Baker Sawrey Morritt of nearby Rokeby Park. He built the castellated abbey bridge in 1773, created sight-lines to connect Rokeby and Egglestone and patched up parts of the abbey buildings so that they could be leased to farmers. The mill served as a paper mill under the proprietorship of Henry Cooke (see notes to folio 31 verso; D11492). Today the mill is a private house, but the abbey ruins are in the care of English Heritage, and Turner’s viewpoints are mostly accessible from the road or on footpaths. The present writer has dated Turner’s sketches at Egglestone to Thursday 1 August 1816.

David Hill
February 2009

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