Explorations in the footsteps of Turner, Cotman and Ruskin with Professor David Hill
This is the third work of twenty-five bought in a lot of Sundry Drawings and Watercolours, offered at Anderson & Garland Ltd, Newcastle upon Tyne, 21 March 2-17, lot 46 as Various Artists (British 19th Century) Sundry drawings and watercolours, mainly topographical and floral studies, including a grisaille “South Gate Lynn, Norfolk”, bearing the signature J.S. Cotman, various sizes, all unframed in a folio.This is a meticulous pencil drawing of an old, two-bay house, somewhat like a very large cottage under a pitched roof, with two dormers either side of a tall chimney and two full-length cross-mullioned windows surmounted by filled-in panels of ogee tracery. To the left is an arched doorway, and the left gable is heavily crocketed. To the right, beyond the house is a large arched gateway, possibly to a barn, and in the foreground is an upturned barrow and a group of four chickens.
The subject is Northborough Manor, in the village of Northborough, about three miles north of Peterborough. The house is renowned as being the residence of Oliver Cromwell’s daughter, Lady Claypole. The house is modernised but relatively little altered, and was on the market in 2017.
Cf https://www.zoopla.co.uk/property/northborough-manor/northborough/peterborough/pe6-9bj/18016628. Zoopla have the following comparative image: Source
The specific view given in the drawing shows the south (garden) front, looking past to the old gatehouse which fronts onto the road. The central chimney is missing today, and the tracery panels have been reopened and reglazed.
The house is grade one listed cf https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1126697
1. 5141 NORTHBOROUGH LINCOLN ROAD Northborough Manor House (formerly listed as Northborough Castle Farmhouse) TF 1507 27/427 15.12.55 I GV 2. Built 1330-40 by the de-la-Mare family. The Manor was sold to James Claypole in 1565. His son who succeeded him was knighted and died in 1630. It retained in the Claypole family until it was sold in 1681 to Lord Fitzwilliam. Reputedly visited by Oliver Cromwell whose daughter Elizabeth married John Claypole. A hall and gatehouse survive from what must have been a medieval manor house, with early C17 alterations. Built of coursed stone rubble with freestone dressings and with steeply pitched Collyweston stone roofs with gabled ends. The west gable of the hall has coping with leaf crockets and hexagonal base of pinnacle or chimney shafts at the apex. The north front has 2 tall 2-light windows with straight heads and blocked reticulated tracery and buttress between. Large C17 gabled semi-dormer above with mullion windows. To the right is an early C16 2 storeyed gabled porch with moulded arch, and original doorway behind with filleted roll moulding. Through the screens passage to similar back doorway. Some partly blocked reticulated tracery windows at the rear with buttress between and 3 C17 gabled semi-dormers above. To the west, is a 2 storeyed cross wing gabled at north front with crocketed finial and mullion transom windows, and a hipped roof to south with small gablet, and large chimney stack on west side. To the north-east is a C17 2 storey and attic wing with asymmetrical gable. Interior, though the screen is missing, there are 3 doorways from the screens passage to the former buttery, kitchen and pantry, with crocketed ogee heads within ogee gables. The traceried heads to the windows were blocked when the hall was floored in the C17. Stairs in hall with shaped slat balusters, and with heavy moulded balusters to top stage. The hall has braced collar rafter roof with ashlaring. Other interior features include moulded stone door frames, a moulded stone chimney piece and 2 large moulded arches in the north wall (which seem to predate the traceried windows). VCR Northants Vol II.
The drawing is initialled and dated ‘D.T. 1824’. This might not be much to go on but for a more elucidatory inscription on the verso.
The inscription supplies the identification of the subject and also of the connection of the house with Lady Claypole, Oliver Cromwell’s daughter, but most usefully identifies the artist as ‘D Twopeny’. There is a well-known antiquarian publisher called William Twopeny in this period, but no D Twopeny readily presents himself as an artist.
There is however a David Twopeny, commoner at Oriel College, Oxford, who took his batchelors in 1824 and in 1831 became the lifelong Vicar of Stockbury in Kent where he died in 1875. He certainly had a taste for the arts, since his sale at Christie’s in February included an extensive collection of fine engravings after Turner, as well as books, prints etc. His principal fame today appears to rest upon him reporting the sighting of a Silurian sea-serpent off the Isle of Skye in 1872.
William Twopenny was David’s elder brother, and practiced law in London. They were both born in Rochester, Kent, together with an elder brother Edward, and a younger one, Richard, as well as four sisters Susanna, Beatrice, Charlotte and Catharine.
Their father was Edward, the second son of William Twopeny, who built up a family law business in the Cathedral close at Rochester. In the later eighteenth century William bought Pistock estate near Sittingbourne, built a fine house and renamed it Woodstock Park. That house was inherited by the eldest son, also William, and passed on his death in 1826 to David Twopeny’s eldest brother Edward.
In 1787 the third son of old William Twopeny, the Rev Richard Twopeny [thus David’s uncle], settled into the Old Rectory and living of the church of Little Casterton just north of Stamford, Lincolnshire. He ran what appears to have been a successful school there, and fathered two sons and seven daughters. The six daughters that survived to adulthood were known as the ‘splendid shilling’, a pun sadly lost now on a decimalised generation. David Twopeny married the youngest Twopeny in the shilling, Mary, in the church of Little Casterton in 1834.
As we shall see, the portfolio contains significant groups of both Woodstock and Little Casterton subjects. These are connected directly by David Twopeny, and indeed there is some reason to believe that many of the drawings came from a single album.
The present drawing is numbered on the verso “11)”. Similar numbering occurs on several drawings in the portfolio – but not all – suggesting that they might have been bought as a series. Most of the numbered drawings remain mounted on pages of an album, suggesting that they are all by the same hand. A full collation of the numbers will be established in due course. The portfolio also contains at least one drawing by William Twopeny, and others by some of the sisters.
When he made this, David Twopeny was only twenty one years old, and in the year of his graduation. His style is similar to that of his elder brother, and it seems likely that they took lessons from the same artist, though who that might be remains to be established. As we will see, however, William Twopeny was almost exclusively interested in architecture. David, on the other hand, was attracted more to the pastoral poetry of landscape.
The style is disciplined, observant, meticulous and very well practiced as an architectural draftsman. It is a fine example of the style of drawing, characterised by hooks and dashes, popularised in the 1790s by Edward Dayes and his circle, and adopted by a generation of professionals and amateurs in the later 1790s and first couple of decades of the nineteenth century. The draftsmanship here is not dissimilar to that adopted, for example by John Sell Cotman in many of his Antiquarian etchings in the period 1810-20. By the 1820s, however, this style would have seemed old-fashioned and only favoured by amateur antiquarians, or very provincial professionals. This is easily good enough to be by a professional, although there is, one would have to say, very little seeking after Romantic effect.
I made various enquiries after the Twopeny genealogy and connections with Woodstock and Little Casterton. I am especially grateful to Michael Cayley – a descendant of the Rev Richard Twopeny – and (through the good offices of the Hon Secretary, Brenda Paternoster) various members of the Kent Family History Society – Brian Cooper, Mike Gunnill, who shared an unpublished study of William Twopeny, Duncan Harrington, Margaret Lewis and Terry Stephens, for extremely prompt and generous responses. The information supplied enabled me to piece together quite a large part of the topographical jigsaw in the portfolio.