Britain's Romantic Abbeys

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This evocative collection of 19th-century watercolours brings together Romantic depictions of abbeys, cathedrals and castles, from across the British Isles - including Ely, Rochester, Ripon and Durham, as well as Jedburgh, Kelso, Roslin and Roxburgh north of the border. The late nineteenth century saw an explosion in internal travel within the UK, fuelled by the newly built railways, and leading to a rediscovery of aspects of British history. Former abbeys and castles were a particular draw – with their sublime architecture fallen into dilapidation, they were a prime site for those travellers and artists with a Romantic taste for picturesque ruin. Our artist favoured the sights of Scotland in particular, its abbeys evoking the pious Medieval Scotland that was the subject of many novels by Sir Walter Scott. The freshness and loose handling of the paintings in our collection would seem to confirm that they were made on the spot, and as such are direct witnesses to what they show.