Explorations in the footsteps of Turner, Cotman and Ruskin with Professor David Hill
This article considers the thirteenth work of twenty-five bought at Anderson & Garland Ltd, Newcastle upon Tyne, 21 March 2017, 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.
Here we extend the previous discussion (see parts #7-12) of a group of five pencil drawings, all dated 1828, once mounted in an album, and some numbered in the original page order, with a second Little Casterton subject, also dated 1828, and evidently belonging to the same group. The present drawing is dated June 2 1828, and was almost certainly originally numbered on the reverse of the backing sheet, but that was lost when the album page was cut down to the present fragment.This is a painstakingly-drawn landscape of a boy or young man half-sitting and half-lying on a path in the right foreground. The ground must be warm for he has no need of the cloak lying nearby. He is possibly drawing. A previously discussed subject, part #7 ‘Forestead and Island, Little Casterton’ is dated 19 June 1828 and shows a view on the river Gwash. I had not at that time noticed the date on the present drawing, which makes it the earliest in the surviving series. Other drawings in the series show views in the area of Woodstock Park, near Sittingbourne in Kent and are dated over three days from 15 July 1828.
None of the drawings is signed, nor is their authorship otherwise identified, but the geographic spread of subjects points to their being by a member of the Twopeny family. Little Casterton is just north of Stamford, Lincolnshire, and was the living of the Reverend Richard Twopeny (1757-1843). David Twopeny, the Reverend Richard’s nephew, most directly connects the principal localities of Woodstock and Little Casterton depicted in this group. He was born in Rochester where his family had a long-standing law practice. His grandfather built Woodstock Park, and in 1826 the estate succeeded to his eldest brother. In 1834, David Twopeny married the younger daughter of Revd. Richard Twopeny in the church at Little Casterton. He might well have established the beginnings of a courtship during this visit in 1828.
Revd Richard Twopeny was the third son of William Twopeny, a wealthy lawyer of Maidstone, Kent, who in about 1780 established the family seat at Woodstock. He was presented to the living of Little Casterton in 1783 and lived in the Rectory next door to the church. There is a portrait of him on the Ancestry.co.uk website. The present subject is a view in his garden. The Rectory is a large house; considerably, larger, indeed than the church.
The house needed to be large. The Reverend Richard had eleven children, all but one of them alive in 1828. Six daughters survived to adulthood, and were collectively known as ‘the splendid shilling’. Several of the daughters married into the Cayley family and Michael Cayley has done some detailed research into the history of the family, and this can be read on the Cayley Family History website.
He died on 23 November 1843 and his obituary was published in the Gentleman’s Magazine of February 1844, p.213:
Nov. 23. Aged 85, the Rev. Richard Twopeny, M. A. upwards of 50 years Rector of Casterton Parva, Rutland, formerly Fellow of Oriel college, Oxford, M.A. 1780. He was eminent for literary attainments, and evinced a critical know ledge of the Hebrew language, by a valuable publication some twenty years since. Mr. Twopeny, corruptly so called, was a native of Rochester, having been son of a deceased Chapter-clerk of its cathedral ; descended from a Flemish family, of which the Count Tupigny is celebrated in the annals of his country. In early life, apprised of his father’s intention to purchase the next presentation to a benefice, Mr. T. with exemplary self-denial, replied, “It is useless, for now that you have told me of it, I dare not take it.” He was presented to Casterton in 1783 by the Earl of Pomfret. He married a niece of the Very Rev. Dr. Nowell, author of ” An Answer to Pietas Oxoniensis.”
A couple of years later his story was amplified by George Burton in his Chronology of Stamford, 1846, p.301:
Twopeny, Richard, was born at Rochester, August the 11th, 1757; he was brought up to the church of England, and was a bright ornament to it. He married October the 19th, 1786, Margaret youngest daughter of Cradock Nowell, Esq., of Newton Nottage, Glamorganshire, with whom he lived happily for 51 years, and by her had three sons and seven daughters; she died March the 15th, 1838, aged 79. The Rev. Richard Twopeny was presented to the Rectory of Casterton Parva with Tolethorpe, near Stamford, by the Hon. C. C. Cavendish, in 1783 ; he died at Casterton, November 23, 1843, at the patriarchal age of 87, leaving two sons and five daughters. He was a scholar, and published several works. As a christian, he was temperate in all things, and never weary of doing good: ‘ a father to the fatherless, and a friend to the poor, always abounding in charity;’ and the reader may from his heart exclaim, ‘ may my last end be like his.’ A neat tombstone was erected for Mr. and Mrs. Twopeny, in the church-yard of Casterton Parva, by Mr. Robert Tinkler, builder, of Stamford.
When Arthur Hinch, a lifelong resident of Little Casterton showed me round the church on 6 February 2020 he mused about the Revd Richard’s burial, since there was no obvious inscription to him in the churchyard. He hoped to be able to check the graves plan, but outside the west end, on the boundary of the church yard with the rectory we did notice a very handsome monument, evidently from the elaborate cross, that of an ecclesiastic. We could not see any inscription on it, but it would be apt for Richard Twopeny to have been put to his rest in view of both his church and home.
Apart from his own scholarly activity, Richard Twopeny seems to have dedicated himself to teaching. A reference in the national archive lists a letter of 2 May 1801 at Lincolnshire Archives [ref: Holywell 110/10] from Richard Twopeny at Little Casterton, Rutland, to Jacob Reynardson Esq., of 13 Orchard Street, London. The National archives reference gives the following: ‘Mr Twopeny appears to be a teacher or the proprietor of a teaching establishment. The letter discusses the possibility of a vacancy for a pupil and gives details of his terms, vacations, rules and subjects taught. It also includes some information about Mr Twopeny’s personal situation..’
I have not seen the letter and it would certainly be interesting to learn more about the Revd Richard’s educational activities. For present purposes, however, that avenue of enquiry lies somewhat beyond the immediate subject of the drawing at hand. Though I must add that Mr Hinch pointed out to me the old school house at Little Casterton, right next to the Old Rectory, that was founded in 1832 by the Reverend Richard along with his patron the Countess of Pomfret [i.e. Pontefract] of nearby Tolethorpe Manor. She married the 3rd Earl in 1793. He died 1830, and she died without issue in 1839.
The old school house has been extended to make a private house, but the owners kindly allowed me access to photograph the surviving commemorative plaque.
Without invitation to the Old Rectory garden I could not access the exact viewpoint of the drawing. The river Gwash runs WSW-ENE along the northern boundary of the rectory garden., so is at the far side of the house as we see it here. In the drawing the sun is to the right and high in the sky, so it must be mid-morning.On the river bank are two large trees, possibly alders to judge from the way that the branches reach down. I imagine that, apart from the succession of trees, the spot is largely unchanged to this day.
Anyone that has been reading this series of articles from the beginning will remember that it began with a work by John Sell Cotman, and at various times since I have had occasion to remark that Cotman’s influence appears to pervade many of the works in the portfolio. This drawing is another case in point. Cotman was an expert in drawing trees. Between about 1803 and 1805 he seems to have spent a protracted period drawing little else. As a result of this he was described by one patron as ‘the Shakespeare of trees’. We can imagine that in his teaching as a drawing master Cotman would have urged the same attention and diligence in his pupils, and the draughtsman and spirit of the present drawing is by no means embarrassed by a comparison with Cotman. At the very least the comparison suggests a common spirit. It is perhaps frustrating that no direct link to Cotman can be found, other than the presence of a drawing by him in the portfolio and one study directly after him (see parts #1 and 2).
Plotting the viewpoint on the map, it is striking that it lies very close to that of the Forestead, more or less looking in opposite directions along the river. The gap between the two dates on the drawings, 2 June here and 19 June at the Forestead, suggests a lengthy stay at the rectory. Long enough, certainly to have become developed close relations with the Reverend Richard and his family.
One is bound to wonder who the boy might be in the drawing. He appears small, and is perhaps about ten years old, and could be a boarding pupil or a member of the family. If the latter, then we are looking for a member of the family born about 1818. The only arrival to answer is that of Thomas Nowell Twopeny, born in 1819, who was Reverend Richard’s grandson, via his eldest boy, also Thomas Nowell, born in 1791. Thomas Nowell the elder was quite peripatetic, having been bought a commission in the army in 1814. Thomas Nowell the younger was even more mobile. Like so many of his family he trained for the church and in 1844 succeeded his grandfather as Rector of Little Casterton. In 1860, however, he set sail for Australia and culminated his career as Archdeacon of Flinders in Adelaide. If that really can be him caught enjoying the sun in a Rutlandshire garden in June 1828, it is hard to imagine that his daydreams could at that time have transported him half so far as his life’s journey actually entailed.
TO BE CONTINUED
Next, Tolethorpe Mill, a few hundred yards downstream of Little Casterton.