Joseph Mallord William Turner

Plompton Rocks from the West


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 97 × 154 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXLIV 3 a

Catalogue entry

This sketch records the view from towards the head of Plompton Rocks lake on the west bank, with a figure seen at the top of the rocks to the right. The panorama is continued to the right on folio 4 (D10874), opposite. Almost exactly the same view appears in a sketch made in 1797 (Tate D02392; Turner Bequest LI Y), but the present sketch includes more at the left.
Plompton Rocks1 lie between Harrogate and Spofforth, about a mile south of Knaresborough. After Daniel Lascelles bought the Plompton estate in 1749, the area of weathered gritstone outcrops was formed into a picturesque garden with the addition of a lake made by the architect John Carr of York. It became part of the Harewood House estates in 1795 and remained in the Lascelles family’s possession until 1951. The grounds are still in private ownership but open to the public at weekends.

David Hill
January 2009

Also called Plumpton Rocks. The two spellings are widely used, and probably equally valid. The current owners and modern O.S. 1:50,000, together with Ely Hargrove in his History of Knaresborough, 1782, p.90. use Plumpton. The modern spellings of the parish and nearby Hall use Plompton and the first edition 1851 O.S. gives Plompton, as does Saxton’s map of 1577. Edward Lascelles, the first Earl of Harewood, referred to ‘Plompton Rocks’ in his personal account book in connection with Turner’s work of 1797–8. The present author prefers ‘Plompton’ on that account, and to be consistent with the spelling of the parish.

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