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Newsletter 104, Spring 2014  © Hampshire Mills Group

A Wonderful Discovery

by Ros Plunkett

I am grateful to Jan Clark for bringing these amazing sketches to our attention. The Musées d’Angers in France (who own the copyright) have given us permission to reproduce them.

Letter sent to me by Jan Clark who discovered this little “Treasure Trove” of sketches

I apologise for presuming to write an article for your mill society as my knowledge of mills is little, apart from an appreciation of their picturesque qualities and sometimes their produce.

My interest is in garden history and I am a guide, lecturer and researcher at Painshill Park, Cobham in Surrey.  http://www.painshill.co.uk/ 

I have had extremely good luck when searching on the Internet and a few years ago located a larger than life statue of Bacchus which had been lost to Painshill for over 200 years since being sold to an anonymous buyer in 1797.

More recently I have had even more luck.  I was searching for an article which appeared in the French equivalent of Country Life when I came across the web site of the Musées d’Angers in France which displayed sketches by a French gentleman, Lancelot Henri Roland Turpin de Crissé, who sought refuge in England in 1793 to escape the guillotine during the French Revolution.

He spent one year in South East England before travelling on to America without his family where it is thought he died destitute in 1800.

His son, Lancelot Théodore Turpin de Crissé, returned to France and became a professional artist; it is he that bequeathed the sketches to the museum at Angers.


Lymington - wind pump used in the salt industry

Reproduced by kind permission of Musées d'Angers, France

The sketches give an amazing snap shot of life in England in 1793 and they appear to have been previously unknown in England.

There are over 90 drawings including 42 of landscape gardens. However, his interests seem broad – not only gardens, but architecture, industry, boats and everyday life.

A number are of Hampshire, particularly in the Southampton area – two of Lymington (including one of a wind pump used in the salt industry), one of Lord Bute’s conservatory at Highcliffe (the only known illustration), ten of Southampton Old Town and Harbour, eight of Netley Abbey and five of Taylor’s Wood Mill on the River Itchen, of which I also understand there was no previous visual record.

There are two further sketches of mills – a smock mill at Kew and a horizontal mill at Battersea.

I am delighted that I have been able to bring these sketches to the attention of your members and it is hoped they will be reproduced in the Newsletter over the following year.

I am giving a talk on Turpin de Crissé and his sketch book on the 19th May  – details on the Painshill web site.  There is no mill at Painshill but a very large water wheel which raises the water for the 17 acre lake.  However, there is a restored corn mill near by in Cobham http://www.cobhammill.org.uk/

Jan Clark


Wood Mill on the River Itchen - Southampton

Reproduced by kind permission of Musées d'Angers, France


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