VIEWS OF SURREY BY JOHN AND EDWARD HASSELL AND OTHERS COLLECTED BY ROBERT BARCLAY OF BURY HILL, DORKING
The following describes the contents of this collection in the Surrey History Centre archives. Find out more about how to see the original documents.
- Ref No: 4348
- Repository: Surrey History Centre, Woking
- Date: c.1700-c.1830
- Format: Archives
- Description: INDEXES
Robert Barclay's index to his collection of illustrations was written in five exercise books found at the beginning of volume one. Item 4348/1/1/7 has already been seen to comprise a topographical index to the volumes. Items 4348/1/1/6, 8, and 10 contain lists of some of the illustrations arranged by parish giving details of the artist and engraver together with their volume and folio reference in his collection and the volume and page in Manning and Bray where details of that particular parish will be found and where it is possible Barclay ultimately intended to bind them. In addition to these topographical indexes Barclay also compiled an index to portraits which he had collected (4348/1/1/9). This, too, gives the name of the artist and engraver, the parish with which the person was associated and the reference in Manning and Bray where the person is discussed. It does not give Barclay's own reference to the illustration and may have been compiled either as a list of persons whose portraits he wished to acquire or as a guide to his binder.
The collection has been catalogued on the History Centre's Robert Barclay Collection database. Folios in which no items were found are listed as 'No items'. If the title of a particular item was found to be too long to fit into the Title field further particulars have been entered in the Title Memo field which is printed below it in the main list. This field has also been used to record observations about the item noticed during the course of listing.
Many of the items were found to bear annotation and this has been transcribed in the MS Description field. The annotation generally takes the form of the price which a printseller had charged for the item, identification of the building or person portrayed, either by Barclay or the printseller, and Barclay's own referencing system which combines both the volume and folio number with the corresponding volume and page number in Manning and Bray.
Indexes to the illustrations have also been compiled in Access. They have been created to enable detailed searches to be made by Parish, Artist, Engraver, and Persons Named. Where possible, brief biographical details of artists, engravers and persons named have been included in italics. Corrections or additions to these details will be welcome.
The Barclay Database is currently available on the Exploring Surrey's Past website.
- Admin History: In March 1995 Surrey Record Office purchased six portfolios of views of Surrey which had been compiled by Robert Barclay of Bury Hill, Dorking, early in the nineteenth century. Barclay's intention seems to have been to 'grangerise' his copy of O Manning and W Bray, The History and Antiquities of the County of Surrey, which was published in three volumes between 1804 and 1814 (In 1769 James Granger published A Biographical History of England with blank leaves for the insertion of engraved portraits or other illustrations of the text. The addition of illustrative material to a wide variety of books quickly became a popular hobby and many of the county histories published during the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth century were 'grangerised' by their owners). Although a few illustrations were included in each volume as it was published, earnest print collectors with an interest in the topography of Surrey sought to embellish their own copies of the county history with illustrations of Surrey people and places collected from a variety of sources. Such collected material would considerably increase the size of the original three volumes - Richard Percival's enormous collection of Surrey views bound into his own copy of Manning and Bray, now held at the British Library, runs to thirty volumes and, had it been bound, Robert Barclay's copy would have been of a similar size. Another 'grangerised' copy of Manning and Bray is held by Lambeth Archives Department.
The illustrations collected by Barclay range from views of Surrey buildings and the gardens attached to them to general topographical views of the county, street scenes and portraits of Surrey inhabitants or people who were associated with the county in some way. A great many of the topographical views are watercolours by John Hassell (1767-1825). In the six portfolios 546 of the 2142 items are by Hassell and testify to the extent of his achievement in recording many of the churches, houses, schools, courthouses, almshouses, bridges and market places which he found during his travels in the county in the early 1820s. A few of the watercolours are also by his son, Edward Hassell (d.1852). An index has been prepared to works by the Hassells which are represented in this collection. It is arranged by parish and in chronological order and supplements the Hassell Index compiled by James C Batley and Gerard P Moss in 'A Catalogue of Pictures of Surrey and Elsewhere by John Hassell and his son Edward' in Surrey Archaeological Collections vol 75 (1984). It will be found with other indexes at the end of the main list.
John Hassell is not, however, the only artist represented in the Barclay collection. The portfolios also include original works by other artists, notably Henry Francis De Cort (1742-1810), a Dutch landscape painter who is represented by some thirteen colourwash drawings of Reigate, Godalming, Guildford, Farnham and Lambeth; John Carter (1784-1817), draughtsman to the Society of Antiquaries, whose original ink and watercolour drawings of Winchester Palace, Southwark, are included in volume six and an anonymous, but talented, artist whose monochrome studies of houses around Dorking and Wotton will be found in volume three.
By far the largest number of items within the collection are the engravings and portraits of Surrey places and people which Barclay acquired from printed topographical works and printsellers. Among those works which have so far been identified are C T Cracklow's Views of all the Churches and Chapels in the County of Surrey (London, 1823) which Cracklow himself intended as 'an ornamental accompaniment to "Manning and Bray's History" ' together with E W Brayley's History of Surrey and Lambeth Palace Illustrated, David Hughson's Description of London, the Gentleman's Magazine and the European Magazine. It is also likely that Barclay used the forty-seven views of churches and other buildings 'drawn by Hill and engraved by Peak' which appeared in The Ecclesiastical Topography of Surrey in 1819 and, like Cracklow's views, were also intended to supplement the paucity of illustrative material published in Manning and Bray. Although the full names of Hill and Peake are not given on the title page of a copy of this work bound into a copy of volume one of Manning and Bray held by Surrey Record Office as P2 257, Peake may be the James Peak or Peake (c.1703-c.1782) who is listed in the Dictionary of National Biography as an engraver of landscapes. The identity of Hill has yet to be discovered, but he may be the H Hill who is identified on 4348/3/79/8 and 4348/4/3/4. A full list of publications from which Barclay collected illustrations will be found in the Appendix at the end of this list.
That Barclay purchased large numbers of views and portraits from printsellers is shown by the pencil pricing which remains on many of them. The majority of the engravings were picked up for a few pence or a shilling, but Barclay seems willingly to have paid more for rarer and more curious items. Much work remains to be done with regard to the ways in which Barclay pursued his hobby and acquired his collection. Batley and Moss suggest that the private print collector would have provided a ready market for an artist like John Hassell and the presence of so many Hassell watercolours within Barclay's collections raises the possibility that the artist was responding to a commission from this keen collector. Comparison between the Hassell watercolours collected by Barclay and the subtle differences in Hassell's studies of the same buildings which survive in other collections suggests that Hassell may have worked up pictures for which he was commissioned from working sketches he had already prepared. The prospective client could have selected the views he wished Hassell to supply from the master copies that the artist carried with him. Barclay is, however, also known to have employed artists for specific tasks. Edward Duncumb was employed by him to make illustrations of specimens from his collection of plants and it is interesting to note that the private account books of the lithographer, James Duffield Harding (1798-1863), now held at the library of the Courtauld Institute in London, include references to his having visited Barclay at Bury Hill in the 1830s in order to take a number of views and provide tuition to Miss Barclay in the relatively new art of drawing on stone. Several copies of an anonymous and undated lithograph of Bury Hill are included in volume three. Comparison between them and the photographs of Harding's sketches of Bury Hill, also held by Surrey Record Office (Zs215/1-4), suggests, however, that they are not the work of Harding.
According to his 'Memoir' published in the Quarterly Magazine and Review, April 1832, Robert Barclay was born in Philadelphia on 15 May 1750. His parents were Alexander and Ann Barclay and his grandfather was David Barclay senior, a merchant of Cheapside, London. Robert Barclay came to England at the age of twelve and was placed under the care of his uncle, David Barclay junior, also of Cheapside. His uncle later resigned to him the share which he had in the mercantile house in Cheapside. Robert Barclay married, first, Rachel Gurney of Norwich, by whom he had fifteen children. She died in 1794 and he later married Margaret Hodgson of Burton, Westmoreland.
The American War of Independence forced Barclay to close his commercial transactions with America and join with his uncle, David Sylvanus Bevan and John Perkins in the purchase of the late Henry Thrale's brewery in Southwark. This brewery was subsequently known as Barclay, Perkins and Company and Robert Barclay continued as a principal partner until his death.
Upon entering this business Barclay took a house in Clapham Terrace where he lived until 1805 and developed an interest in horticulture. This interest brought him into contact with such eminent botanists as Sir James E Smith, Sir Joseph Banks and Mr Curtis, publisher of the Botanical Magazine. In 1805 he moved to Bury Hill near Dorking which he first rented and later purchased from the earl of Verulam. The large garden and estate of Bury Hill were ideally suited to Barclay's interest in collecting rare plants from around the world. The conservatories were filled with specimens acquired from fellow horticulturalists with whom he corresponded and his 'Memoir' states that even the estate cottages were 'ornamented with beautiful flowering shrubs trained round their doors'. This interest is reflected in the large number of illustrations of gardens and conservatories in the present collection.
Barclay's interest in the history of Surrey and in the antiquities which it contained also seems to have developed after he moved to Bury Hill. In 1817 a hoard of some 553 Saxon pennies was found in a field on Lower Merriden Farm at Winterhanger Hill in Dorking occupied by George Dewdney. Barclay purchased the entire hoard on the spot and immediately sent them to the British Museum in order that the Keeper of Antiquities, Taylor Combe, might have the opportunity to select any coins not already in the museum's collection [T Combe, 'An Account of Some Anglo-Saxon Coins found at Dorking in Surrey', ArchÃ¦ologia XIX (1818) pp109-119 and Victoria History of the County of Surrey I (1902) pp272-273, where Combe is stated to have selected 174 specimens for the national collection].
Robert Barclay died on 22 October 1830. For a portrait of him by Sir Henry Raeburn see H F Barclay and A Wilson-Fox, A History of the Barclay Family (London, 1934).
JOHN HASSELL AND EDWARD HASSELL
John Hassell is remembered today as a water-colour painter, engraver and drawing master. He was born in 1767, perhaps in Wales, and first appears as an exhibitor at the Royal Academy in 1789. He was a popular drawing-master and published several works on the techniques of drawing and painting in water- colour. He also published books of topographical views which owe much to the romantic interest in the picturesque. Several of these books, notably his Views of Gentleman's Seats Adjacent to London (1804-1805), Picturesque Rides and Walks within Thirty Miles of the British Metropolis (1817-1818) and Excursions of Pleasure (1823) testify to Hassell's deep interest in Surrey which was to take him to most parts of the county and result in at least 750 water-colour views of churches, houses and other buildings of architectural or historical interest which he found. This interest and, according to Batley and Moss, his sketchbooks were inherited by his son, Edward, who continued with similar drawings in a different technique until 1832. The examples by Edward Hassell in the Robert Barclay collection confirm the impression suggested by James C Batley that Edward was more interested in the interior of churches and in more modern buildings than his father. He died in 1852. For further information relating to John and Edward Hassell, together with an analysis of their artistic style and the materials they used, see Batley and Moss (1984). For a list of works published by John Hassell see his entry in the Dictionary of National Biography.
- Level: Collection
- Access Status: Open.
- For more information contact: Surrey History Centre Collections Catalogue
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