Drawings of England by Samuel Hieronymus Grimm


Grimm traversed the country recording ‘everything curious’ for Sir Richard Kaye in the late 18th century. The five drawings shown here are taken from the 12 volumes of sketches of England by Grimm given to the British Library in 1810.

The old tithe barn at Abbotsbury (Add. MS 15537, f.93) was formerly attached to the Monastery of St Peter, founded in the 11th century. It survived the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1538 and has a claim to being the largest thatched building in Britain.

Durdle Door, near Lulworth in Dorset (Add. MS 15537, f.151), is a famous natural feature of the Jurassic Coast. The name ‘Durdle’ comes from the Old English ‘thirl’ meaning ‘to pierce’.

Prebends Bridge in Durham (Add. MS 15538, f.127) was completed in 1778, the year after Grimm made this view looking up the River Wear towards Durham Cathedral. Designed by George Nicholson, it served as a private road for the Dean and Chapter of Durham, giving access from the south through the Watergate.

The skeleton in the south transept of Lincoln Cathedral – one of several drawn by Grimm in 1791 – is the earthly remains of Thomas de Aston, the late 14th-century Archdeacon of Stow (Add. MS 15541, f.90).

A view of the countryside near Stevenage (Add. MS 15541, f.34) shows a farmer bailing hay in a field and points to Grimm’s eye for slightly humorous compositions.

Full title:
A LARGE COLLECTION Of drawings in pencil or Indian ink, representing views, buildings, and objects of antiquity, or curiosity in various counties of' England ; drawn in the latter part of the last century, by Samuel Henry Grimm, for the Very Rev. Sir Richard Kaye, Bart., Dean of Lincoln, by whom they were bequeathed to the British Museum in 1810. 12 Vols. Folio. These drawings are confined to the following counties: - Bedfordshire Berkshire; Buckinghamshire; Cambridgeshire; Derbyshire; Dorsetshire Durham ; Gloucestershire; Huntingdonshire; Leicestershire; Lincolnshire; Middlesex; Norfolk; Northamptonshire; Northumberland; Nottinghamshire; Oxfordshire; Somersetshire; Sussex; Westmoreland; Wiltshire; Yorkshire. A description of each drawing will be found in the " Catalogue of the Manuscript Maps, Charts, and Plans, and of the Topographical drawings in the British Museum," London, 1844
Pen and ink / Wash / Watercolour / View
Samuel Hieronymus Grimm
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library
Add MS 15537, f.93; Add MS 15537, f.151; Add MS 15538, f.127; Add MS 15541, f.90; Add MS 15541, f.34

Full catalogue details

Related articles

‘Everything Curious’: Samuel Hieronymus Grimm and Sir Richard Kaye

Article by:
Brett Dolman
Antiquarianism, Country

Over 3000 drawings by Samuel Hieronymus Grimm are housed in the British Library’s Department of Manuscripts: the impressive result of over 20 years touring to record ‘everything curious’ in England. A project funded the antiquary Sir Richard Kaye, Grimm’s drawings capture local history and contemporary life in England in the last decades of the 18th century. Brett Dolman explores.