Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • A View of Berry Pomeroy Castle within the Gateway
Pencil, pen and grey ink, watercolour, gum
  • image width 203mm,
  • image length 330mm
mounted by the artist
  • sheet, recto, lower left
  • “F.Towne / delt”
  • artist's mount, verso
  • “A view of Berry Castle within the gateway / drawn on the spot May the 19th 1775 by Francis Towne / NB 5 hours”
Object Type

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Author's examination of the object

Museum's own information


This was probably the drawing that was owned by C. P. Allen before being sold by A. A. Allen (of the Walpole Society) at Sotheby’s on 4 April 1935 for £8 5s. to the Fine Art Society, where it remained on sale until at least 1938. On 11 October 1956 Agnew’s (no.8497) bought it from P. S. Hadley and sold it on to Colonel R. B. Pitt on 18 February 1957. Colonel Pitt sold it back to Agnew’s (no.0982) on 30 November 1960 and Agnew’s sold it on 23 January 1961 to V. Cavendish Bentinck, who sold it back to Agnew’s (no.1385) on 4 May 1961. On 26 February 1962 it was purchased from Agnew’s by the current owner, the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter (23/1962).

Associated People & Organisations

Thomas Agnew & Sons
A. A. Allen
C. P. Allen
Victor Cavendish-Bentinck (1897 - 1990)
P. S. Hadley
Colonel R. B. Pitt
Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery
Sotheby's, London
Exhibition History
[?] Exhibition of Original Drawings at the Gallery, No.20 Lower Brook Street, Grosvenor Square, 20 Lower Brook Street, 1805, no. 7 as 'Berry Castle'
An Exhibition of Early English Water-Colour Drawings, Fine Art Society, 1935, no. no.27 as 'Berry Pomeroy Castle Ex C.P.Allen'
An Exhibition of Early English Water-Colour Drawings, Fine Art Society, 1935, no. no.4 as 'Berry Pomeroy Castle'
An Exhibition of Early English Water-Colour Drawings, Fine Art Society, 1936, no. no.4 as 'Berry Pomeroy Castle' Ex C.P.Allen
Exhibition of Early English Water-Colour Drawings, Fine Art Society, 1937, no. no.44, as 'Berry Pomeroy Castle' Ex C.P. Allen, and priced at 18 guineas.
Exhibition of Early English Watercolours, Fine Art Society, 1938, no. no.54, as 'Berry Pomeroy Castle' Ex A.A. Allen and C.P.Allen, and priced at 12 guineas.
83rd Annual Exhibition of Water-Colour Drawings, Thomas Agnew & Sons, 1957, no. 21
88th Annual Exhibition of Water-Colour Drawings, Thomas Agnew & Sons, 1961, no. 10
Treasures of the Exeter Museums: Centenary Exhibition, Royal Albert Memorial Museum, 1969, no. 136
Francis Towne & John White Abbott: Paintings and Watercolours from the Exeter Museums and Art Gallery, Marble Hill House, 1973, no. 9
Francis Towne, Tate Gallery; Leeds City Art Gallery, 24 June 1997 - 4 January 1998, no. 3
89th Annual Exhibition of Water-Colours and Drawings (2nd ed), Thomas Agnew & Sons, 1962, no. 104
Jane C. Baker, Catalogue of Oil Paintings, Watercolours, Drawings and Sculpture, Exeter Museums: Exeter, 1978, p. 119


Berry Pomeroy Castle is just over a mile east of Totnes.1 It was one of the most visited sites in Devon, although it was admired mainly for features—its prominence on a hilltop and its gatehouse—that Towne here ignores but shows in another drawing, also early in date (FT051). According to a writer in 1803,

Berry castle may be considered as a scene of unrivalled beauty. The antiquary and the painter must here unite in admiration, and the latter might multiply his sketches ad infinitum, for, in every aspect, wheresoever he places himself, he will meet with some peculiar discriminated beauty; – the ruinous walls, and the noble trees that rise in successive majesty up the steep ascent, assume a new appearance at every turn of the road, and the diversity never permits the attention to flag, or the admiration to cease.2

As FT051 was finished in late 1805, after Towne’s Lower Brook Street exhibition had closed, it seems that, of the two, the Exeter Berry Pomeroy castle is the more likely to have been displayed on that occasion.

by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 Donn 1965, pl.11a.
  2. 2 Hyett 1803, p.99.

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