A Prospect of Whitehaven, Cumbria

The View from Brackenthwaite: Matthias Read’s Whitehaven Prospects

Whitehaven, an industrial port in Cumbria, underwent rapid expansion in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. John Bonehill takes a closer look at Matthias Read’s prospects of the town in order to understand this shift in Whitehaven’s fortunes.

Well-dressed and striking elegant poses, two gentlemen gaze out from a scrubby hillside to take in a broad, expansive prospect. One of the men reclines against a bank, resting on his cane, as if recovering from the climb. Trying to catch this figure’s attention, his companion gestures towards a grand house surrounded by enclosed courts and formal gardens. It is done with a rather theatrical flourish, but then this is a landscape of near epic scale and spectacle. Its drama lies not only with the coastal setting and extensive seaward views, but in the array of bustling commercial and industrial activity edging the neat, geometric order of the harbour’s town laid out below. For the hill-top prospect-hunters, however, the proper starting point for their visual scrutiny of the landscape would seem to be the hall that overlooks this striking scene. It would all seem to unfold from there.

A Prospect of Whitehaven, Cumbria by Matthias Read

painting of Whitehaven, Cumbria

A view of Whitehaven painted by Matthias Read for his patron, the MP and landowner, Sir James Lowther.

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These genteel spectators occupy the undulating foreground of a large painted prospect of Whitehaven, a then thriving port on the far western shores of Cumberland set in a rolling terrain of low coastal hills and plateaus. It was painted sometime around 1730 by the locally-based Matthias Read, and is one of a number of views of the town credited to the artist. They vary in their details, but there are three surviving pictures taken from the hillside of Brackenthwaite, which marked the western limits of Whitehaven.[1] Travellers in the region had long been directed up to this place of prospect, for its fine views north out over the Solway Firth towards the coast of Scotland and south-west over the town and harbour to the Irish Sea. In Read’s view, the vista extends out beyond the jutting headland of St. Bees to the silhouetted profile of the Isle of Man. Yet, the painter’s horizons were still more extensive, global even in reach, as the fleet of ships navigating the coastal waters allude to the seaborne commerce which had enabled the development of Whitehaven.

Writing just a few years earlier, Daniel Defoe had noted that the town had also ‘of late fallen into some Merchandizing’.[2] While Whitehaven’s merchant community had a near monopoly on the coal trade with Dublin, it was now looking to diversify and make connections further afield. Indeed, Read’s picture is a view of a town still on the up, on the verge of expanding its markets; for there were now plans afoot to make the harbour a major staging post in the timber trade with the Baltic seaboard and the plantation trade with the American colonies, of Maryland and Virginia, as merchants looked to the export and re-export of a range of lucrative commodities, notably tobacco and, to a lesser extent, cargoes of sugar and slaves.

Standing in a long tradition of town prospects, and then very much in vogue thanks to the activities of Samuel and Nathaniel Buck, Read’s view of Whitehaven staked out the settlement’s affluence and good order now and in the future.[3] But if a vision of the hoped-for commercial prosperity imagined to flow from its links with Atlantic trade, Read’s views of Whitehaven were no less expressive of the disadvantages of the town’s situation. Since coal was exported by sea, there had been no incentive to improve land routes and local roads were not turnpiked until local merchants acquired the necessary capital in the 1740s. Their eventual construction came a little late in the day. It was the lack of an extensive hinterland for the collection and distribution of consumer goods which would see it lose out to the port of Glasgow within the decade, sending the town into a recession it was arguably never quite able to overcome.

This enterprise – its gains and its losses – was overseen by the artist’s patron, Sir James Lowther, the owner of the hall known as The Flatt so admired by the leisured gentlemen roaming the hills above the town in Read’s picture. Indeed, the work is as readily aligned with estate portraiture – or a view out over landed property – as it is with the tradition of town prospects. But, then, these would frequently overlap or be conflated, as a way of celebrating landed power as well as civic identity and values, or rather, the mutuality of those interests. In this, it is worth noting that, in all likelihood, the picture was actually made for Lowther’s Cumberland seat, so a vision of the town in paint to complement or compare with the view of it afforded by the windows of the house. All did unroll from that elegant building.

Despite being the work of a local artist, working in some isolation from the London art world and its developments, Read’s views of Whitehaven have prompted a surprising degree of scholarly interest.[4] But then, it is what they depict that has tended to attract attention perhaps, rather more than the painter or the pictorial qualities of his work. Such large-scale depictions of industry are rare for the period. Yet, fascinating as the artist’s detailing of the working of the landscape may be, there is more to it than meets the eye. Like much prospect art, they are not so much a view of how things were as a vision of how they ought to be.

Peering more closely at Read’s views of Whitehaven from the local hillside, and from the shifting perspective of the artist and other local residents as well as his patron, his pictures begin indeed to seem all-together less straightforward. Taking in these different viewpoints was a demand not easily met. Something of these challenges can be explored firstly, through a closer look at the first of his views from Brackenthwaite and secondly, by tracing the ultimately contentious plans to translate one of these pictures into a print.

East Prospect of the Town and Harbour of Whitehaven

Engraved view of Whitehaven, Cumbria

Etching and engraving of Whitehaven, by Richard Parr after an earlier painting by Matthias Read.

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Only a century or so earlier, Whitehaven had been but ‘a small Place’, a tiny fishing and coal mining village lying on dissolved monastic lands, in the manor of St. Bees. In 1630, the estate was inherited by Sir John Lowther, from that date passing through a junior branch of this important local family, who were the chief architects of the town’s development.[5] In the assessment of Edmund Gibson, writing in the final years of the seventeenth century, it was ‘chiefly beholden for its improvement, to Sir John Lowther’.[6] Building on developments made in the middle of the century by his father, this second Sir John Lowther had nurtured ambitious plans for his north-west coastal seat.

Besides the inhospitable nature of the landscape and climate, the pattern of customary tenure in the locality was inimical to agricultural investment and experiment. It led Lowther to look more at growing the traditionally small-scale industry of the place, whereupon agricultural affairs played a distinctly secondary role to the chief enterprise of colliery development. During his father’s short stewardship of the estate, the building of a pier suitable for commercial craft had allowed for the export of sea salt and coal from local seams. But taking the business and the growth of the town forward, from the early 1660s, Lowther, in close consultation with his steward Timothy Tickell, consolidated this enterprise by taking out a series of systematic leases and purchases of lands adjacent to the manor of St. Bees. This enabled more efficient and rigorous exploitation of the beds of coal running below the estate, but it also allowed him to control the development of the landscape above.

In 1675, Lowther purchased The Flatt, Whitehaven’s mansion house, which lay about a mile or so inland. From this point on, he would also plan the townscape along both practical and scenographic lines. First on the agenda was the construction of a broad street running from the harbour to The Flatt, linking them both physically and visually. Such was Lowther’s determination to ensure clean, straight lines, he had little hesitation about clearing away a small ancient chapel which blocked the vista. While a new church, St. Nicholas’, was built, its alignment followed the straight edge of the street rather than the traditional eastward orientation. Plans pushed through in the face of some local opposition, the new church came to signify Lowther’s control of the townscape.

By and large, this management and planning took place at a distance. Sir John Lowther was an absentee landlord, heavily reliant on his steward.[7] Besides his regular duties of holding courts, collecting rents, negotiating leases of land, and the important business of remitting the estate income to London, Tickell assumed increasing responsibility for managing the Whitehaven collieries. In his time, these developed from primitive ‘bear mouths’ into a network of races, served by deep shafts, their output dominating the readymade and expanding trade to Dublin. He was also to advise on the layout and physical character of the town, overseeing major harbour works and the remodelling of The Flatt as Lowther’s Whitehaven residence. Near the beginning of their relationship, Lowther was to observe of his local interests: ‘I see with others eyes’.[8] Here, he was not only reliant on the steward’s weekly letters, but a long tradition of the owner viewing the landscape graphically through the eyes of artists and surveyors.

While watching over the county’s business in Westminster, Lowther was also to become a member of the early Royal Society and a prominent collector of books and pictures. These were worlds reconciled pictorially in Peter Lely’s fine portrait of Lowther, the country gentleman turned entrepreneur. Most likely datable to the second half of the 1670s, Lely’s picture depicts the sitter with a blueprint for his estate in one hand, while gesturing lazily with the other towards an almost visionary scene of Whitehaven harbour, framed by a rocky crag and broken column, juxtaposing the plan with the prospect. Moving in Royal Society circles, it seems likely that Lowther’s vision of a rational, regulated form of town planning owed much to the proposals advanced for the rebuilding of the capital after 1666, projecting a cleaner, more hygienic and fire-resistant city in miniature. Whereas other such schemes failed, however, Lowther’s control over Whitehaven meant that he was largely, if not completely able to realise his plans.

Sir John Lowther

mezzotint portrait of Sir John Lowther, 2nd baronet

A mezzotint of Sir John Lowther, executed by Alexander Browne c. 1684 after a painting by Peter Lely c. 1670s.

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In his views of Whitehaven from Brackenthwaite, Read engaged these designs on the site as well as its material past and present. They depict a landscape of great complexity; in the earliest version shown here, it unfurls from left to right, the ground sloping down from an intimate, enclosed field system, bounded by hedgerows and tree lines, towards the formal gardens surrounding The Flatt and the town grid to the stone quays and piers projecting seaward. There is a strong sense of pattern making, with the geometry of the fields, gardens and urban strip sandwiched between the gently undulating hillside slopes and the movements of the clouds above. If the grazing animals of the foreground fields of Brackenthwaite evoke the rhythms of an older, rural way of life, they frame a self-consciously modern scene, of near constant, rapid change and distant connection. Tellingly, the irregular lines of the tenements of the original settlement lie under the far hillside, cast in shadow.

Overall, the impression is one of orderly, regular and programmatic development. Unified visually by the lines of coloured sandstone houses, brilliantly lit, even bleached by the sun, with their near uniform grey slate roofs, the scene comprehends a series of disparate zones, variously agricultural, industrial, commercial and residential, rural, urban and maritime. Streets in the vicinity of The Flatt are dotted with grand residences and public buildings. Streets around St. Nicholas’ are comprised of terrace properties, some with gardens, alongside empty building plots. Commercial and industrial buildings line the sea front, with a mill and a number of large warehouses adjacent to the quays and piers of the harbour among them. Signs of industry edge the townscape. There are the covered gins of coal-pits and a smoking blast furnace in the hills. Hurries (or coal chutes) and quarried outcrops loom over the old hamlet buildings. Shipbuilding and repairs take place in and around the harbour, where vessels also wait to be loaded with coal. One of four long alleys or rope-walks runs across the picture plane.

What Read’s prospect projected as a scene of orderly progress was nonetheless a decidedly compromised version of Sir John Lowther’s original vision. Frustrated by entrenched local interests, a number of projects, including a proposed town square, had come to nothing. Tickell and his successors attempted as best they could to buffer their employers from the conflicts and factions within the town caused by the Lowthers’ control of the landscape and its resources. But in turn, they were invariably regarded with suspicion by those who, correctly, perceived them as serving the Lowthers’ interests rather than those of the settlement. In a very public display of defiance, some of Whitehaven’s wealthier inhabitants wilfully refused to co-operate with the grand plan for the town. There are examples of houses built in styles that consciously broke with the design regulations Lowther had imposed to ensure a degree of regularity in Read’s prospect, for instance, notably in the streets nearest The Flatt, though the restricted palette rather downplays the differences.

Such builds were made possible by the more laissez-faire attitude of Sir James Lowther, the second son, who was to inherit in 1706 over his spendthrift elder brother Christopher. Although Whitehaven’s growth continued along the lines established by his father, the younger Lowther was willing to permit various departures from the model. So, while previously reserved for the grandest buildings, the broad street leading from The Flatt now saw the erection of a shambles or open-air slaughterhouse and meat market. In any case, further developments were by now increasingly restricted by the confines of the town’s situation. By the mid-1730s, when plans were being made to engrave one of Read’s Whitehaven prospects, the urban sprawl had reached the edge of its physical limits.

Just before we turn to that print and the way it framed up the varied stakes Lowther and the residents of Whitehaven had in these developments, it is also worth taking in another set of interests; those of the painter and the steward.

Having settled in the town several decades earlier, and married into a local family, Read was a stakeholder with a vested interest in this place, who had witnessed and been participant in its extraordinarily fast-paced change and development. Born in the London borough of Clerkenwell, the painter had landed up in the then still small coastal settlement shortly after 1690.[9] Tradition has it that he was returning from Dublin, travelling with the older, well-established Dutch-born painter Jan Wyck. Assuming that this was the case, then Read may well have been acting as a studio assistant, one of the several native-born practitioners Wyck was reported to have schooled, possibly touching in the landscape settings of the master’s often sizeable battle pieces. They had reportedly come to the then still embryonic port of Whitehaven on the request of Sir John Lowther, who was now wanting a pair of pictures showing scenic episodes from the recent Battle of the Boyne expressive of his Williamite allegiances. Then about twenty or so, Read was obviously confident enough to strike out independently, albeit that he was to chance his arm in a far less high-stakes and competitive environment than London. Having said this, relocating to the north-west was perhaps no less demanding than carving out a niche in the metropolitan art world. It just presented a different set of challenges. There were far fewer competitors, but the market was restricted. Piecing a living together, Read relied not so much on the patronage of the Lowthers as the encouragement and offices of their steward. 

A lawyer belonging to a lesser gentry family with a small estate east of Carlisle, Scaleby Castle, as the local representative of the absentee Lowthers, Tickell’s successor, William Gilpin was a figure of considerable standing and influence. Entertained by Gilpin at The Flatt when on tour in the region, Ralph Thoresby admired Lowther’s steward as an ‘ingenious gentleman . . . an accurate historian and virtuoso’, an able conversationalist on matters of taste and learning with his own ‘store of natural curiosities’.[10] Evidently concerned to promote the polite status of the town, from the early 1690s onwards Gilpin had begun recommending Read to his employer for various projects, both public and private, and in a variety of registers. ‘He has a good fancy, and is capable of direction’, Gilpin was to write of the artist.[11]

Taking advantage of the opportunities opened up by local building projects, Read’s portfolio was broad, the artist taking on restoration and varnishing work as well as the copying of Old Masters, the painting of altarpieces and decorative schemes, including at The Flatt, work in portraiture as well as landscape. Other commission were less demanding, less refined, however. ‘He wrought cheap, and was employed chiefly in daubing colours on the heads and sterns of ships’ remembered a later Gilpin, while also noting that Read came to be ‘celebrated for his abilities’, such that ‘business flowed in upon him . . .  abundantly’, making him ‘rich’.[12] That ‘business’ was to include acting as a drawing master to Lowther’s steward and his son, John Bernard Gilpin, father of the best known of all writers on the landscape of the picturesque.

Charged with the care of the estate, stewards like Tickell and Gilpin were important figures. Owners’ absenteeism meant that it was an occupation of some prestige and sometimes no little profit, with the office of estate steward bringing a social status that reflected their employer’s rank. They were gentlemen, sometimes kinsmen and perhaps like Gilpin landowners themselves. Discharged with a variety of functions, it was recommended they were men of ‘honesty and integrity’, ‘judgment and experience’.[13] Their combination of roles, especially on larger, more complex estates, required knowledge of land law and the skills of a surveyor as well as a familiarity with practices and innovations in agriculture, animal husbandry and woodland management. At Whitehaven, the skill set was more diverse still, ranging over various industrial processes as well as town planning. Taking an administrative or supervisory role in building and landscaping projects, in the way of Gilpin, stewards would contract and oversee the work of local labourers and tradesmen like Read.

In some instances, the steward’s role in the making and management of the landscape would be registered visually by their inclusion in an artist’s views of an estate or at times in the commission of their portrait. Unless we take him to be one of those gentlemen roaming the fields above the town, Gilpin is not present in Read’s views in such literal sense. But he had as much of a part in their making as he did in shaping the landscape portrayed.

By the time he was to compile the series of Whitehaven prospects in the early to mid-1730s, Read had sustained a career in and around the town for the best part of half a century. Thanks to Gilpin’s early encouragement and recommendation, he was in receipt of regular commissions from members of the wider region’s gentry as well as Lowther. With Gilpin as an advisor, Read was also almost certainly investing in commercial and trading ventures. Now ‘rich’, he put the money into property, acquiring a stake in the town’s development. After first acquiring one of a series of rectangular building plots on Cross Street around the turn of the century, Read would move up in the world a dozen or so years later, when he took up residence in a more fashionable part of town on the corner of Cross Street and Irish Street. Lying at the crossroads just to the left of the centrepiece church of St. Nicholas’, this latter house was to occupy a central place in the views he was to make of Whitehaven from Brackenthwaite.

Something of the play of conflicting forces and investments in the local landscape and its image we have been tracking – whether those of the artist, steward, patron or Whitehaven resident – shaped the plans to publish the prospect of the port that was to appear in early 1739, engraved by Richard Parr after Read. Though it would be several years in the making, Lowther had proposed having Read’s prospect engraved as early as 1732.[14] He did have some reservations about its commercial viability, however. ‘[T]ho’ it would make as pretty a print as most towns’ he was to write to Gilpin’s successor John Spedding, he could not but think ‘there would be but a small demand for it in regard to the country it is in’.[15] There was indeed little conventionally scenic about the bleak coast of a region Defoe found full of ‘horror’, perhaps ‘the wildest, most barren and frightful’ in England.[16] Still, while he thought there would be little commercial value in the publication of the town prospect, he did wonder ‘what good I can do by printing it myself and if I can oblige people or not by making them a present of it’.[17]

Whether he then thought better or simply lost interest in the idea of using the print as an obligatory gift is not clear, but this lack of commitment to the project would eventually see Lowther step away from direct involvement in its production. It would be up to James Spedding, his steward’s son, to take it forward. His success, in signing up 400 subscribers to the scheme, only made its originator nervous, however. While some would later look to the print of Whitehaven as a model way of attracting investment, with the time of publication approaching, Lowther became concerned that the print would bring undue attention to his north-west estate: ‘There is one objection to the dispersing so many prints to show the greatness and increase of buildings at Whitehaven which should be considered of, that is it may draw an increase of taxes to the town both for the Land tax and Window lights’.[18]

Surviving correspondence suggests that the original plan had been to have the Bucks take on the production of the print.[19] Unable to make the journey to the north-west coast, however, they were obliged to drop out, leaving the job of engraving to Parr. Their involvement would have meant a London publication and wider circulation, and perhaps encouraged the unwanted scrutiny Lowther feared. For James Spedding, who had the most to gain or lose, the anxiety was that the Bucks would think again and issue their own prospect of Whitehaven.[20] In the end, A Prospect of the Town and Harbour of Whitehaven was published locally, probably in the New Year of 1739, and dedicated to Lowther.[21]

Seemingly after a version of his town prospect Read made for another branch of the Lowther family, Parr’s print departed from the original design in several ways. Most obviously, the fields of Brackenthwaite are ploughed along ridge and furrow lines. If it serves to further accentuate the regularity and geometry of the town below, with its parade of grand residences and public buildings, a town hall, assembly rooms and new churches, it does alter the character of the view. In some ways, it rather gestures to a different set of interests to those staked out in the oils Read painted for Sir James Lowther.

Taking in the sea-air and the fine, extensive prospects out over the town from Brackenthwaite, Read’s genteel hill-top observers are still present, but they are more discrete and, in this context, as easily imagined as Whitehaven residents as tourists. They do not have the chic elegance or prominence of the figures populating the scenes of polite conversation and conviviality that, added by French draughtsmen and engravers, decorated the foregrounds of the Bucks engraved town prospects. To an extent, this no doubt owed something to Parr’s technical limitations, but it also heightened certain aspects of Read’s original designs and their implications. In Read’s painted prospects, the figures of the townscape are miniscule, almost ghostly presences, and distributed only sparingly across the urban environment. For all the careful delineation and pictorial prominence of its commercial and industrial development, there is an equal concern to screen its processes. There are no signs of labour; the rope-walk goes unused, the cliff quarries unworked. Only the activity of the shipping alludes to this as a working landscape, but that is safely distanced from the town itself. There are no elements of picturesque disarray or everyday toil disturbing the ordered regularity that governed the aesthetics of the Lowthers’ town-planning.

This curious impression of near desertion is taken further in Parr’s print, with the streets cleaned and tidied up, emptied and silent. Together with Parr’s rather stiff, mechanical delineation, this emptiness recalls the conventions of architectural draughtsmanship and imagery, of models, plans and views of depopulated, ideal townscapes. Working without the aid of the fashionable London figures that gave the Bucks’ designs their suave sophistication, it is as if the artist lacked the pictorial means to reconcile the commercial and industrial activity of the town with those claims to polite status projected by its assembly rooms, playhouse and headland bowling green.

For all that the Lowthers’ impact on the townscape is registered by the prominence assigned The Flatt, and underlined by the dedicatory inscription, the printed prospect projects a sense of civic enterprise, of a collective concern to order and even beautify this industrial and socially experimental landscape. It is a pictorial statement about communal as well as individual enterprise; almost a collage of house and garden portraits in miniature, whereby the town’s subscribers to the print might own a view of their own property which celebrated its place and their role in the good order and progress of the settlement as a whole.

In this sense of the harmonious fusion of private and public interest, the prominence assigned the ridge and furrows of the foreground might be understood as indicating the town’s dependency on its common land, and understood as an expression of civic pride. It is indeed notably different in character from the pastoral feel of the foreground in the versions Read painted for Lowther, where the fields of Brackenthwaite appear almost as an extension of the parkland of The Flatt, and where a series of steps or terraces cut deep into the hillside adjacent to the hall give weight to this impression.

In their comparison, the painted and printed Whitehaven prospects begin to hint at the sharp disputes and tensions barely concealed by the orderly facades of the townscape; on one hand, the controlling but absent interest of the Lowthers and, on the other, the ambitious residents of the town. Each had their own views and visions of its character and its futures. Reliant on Lowther and his agent’s patronage but with his own vested interest in this landscape too, the artist Read was seemingly caught, rather uneasily between these respective positions. On balance, his own perspective was perhaps closest to the stewards who had done so much to promote his cause. It was perhaps the point of view of those polite figures who he imagined looking clambering the slopes of Brakenthwaite, and who looked to The Flatt as the point of departure for the landscape that unfurled below.


[1] In addition to the painting shown and discussed here, and now in the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, the other versions are to be found in the collections of the Beacon Museum, Whitehaven and Holker Hall, Cumbria.

[2] Daniel Defoe, A Tour Thro’ the Whole Island of Great Britain, 3 vols. (London, 1724–26), III, 229–30.

[3] Ralph Hyde, Gilded Scenes and Shining Prospects: Panoramic Views of British Towns, 1575–1900, exhibition catalogue, New Haven, 1985; Ralph Hyde, A Prospect of Britain: The Town Panoramas of Samuel and Nathaniel Buck (London, 1994).

[4] Country Houses in Great Britain., exhibition catalogue, (New Haven, 1979), pp. 32–22, 106, no. 12; John Harris, The Artist and the Country House (London, 1979), pp. 60, 99, 100 n. 14, 152, no. 167; Stephen Daniels, ‘Goodly Prospects: English Estate Portraiture, 1670–1730’, in Nicholas Alfrey & Stephen Daniels (eds.), Mapping the Landscape: Essays on Art and Cartography, exhibition catalogue, (Nottingham, 1990), pp. 9–17, 12; Celina Fox, The Arts of Industry in the Age of Enlightenment (New Haven & London, 2009), pp. 408–11.

[5] For a detailed account of the family’s role in the development of the town, see John V. Beckett, Coal and Tobacco: The Lowthers and the Economic Development of West Cumberland 1660–1760 (Cambridge, 1981). On the form it was to take on the ground, see the painstaking study by Sylvia Collier, Whitehaven 1660–1800 (London, 1991).

[6] William Camden, Britannia, rev. ed. Edmund Gibson (London, 1695), p. 836.

[7] John Beckett ‘Estate management in eighteenth-century England: the Lowther-Spedding relationship in Cumberland’, in John Chartres & David Hey (ed.), English Rural Society, 15001800: Essays in Honour of Joan Thirsk (Cambridge, 1990), pp. 5572; D.R. Hainsworth, Stewards, Lords and People: The Estate Steward and his World in Late Stuart England (Cambridge, 1992).

[8] Sir John Lowther, letter to 27 December 1681, Cumbria Archives Centre, Carlisle, D/Lons/W2/1/16.

[9] For a useful overview of the artist’s life and work, see Mary E. Burkett & David Sloss, Read’s Point of View (Kendal, 1995).

[10] Ralph Thoresby, The Diary of Ralph Thoresby, F.R.S., 2 vols., Joseph Hunter (ed.) (London, 1830), I, 270.

[11] William Gilpin, letter to Sir John Lowther, 1696, Cumbria Archive Centre, Carlisle, D Lons/L1/1/87.

[12] William Gilpin, Memoirs of Dr. Richard Gilpin, of Scaleby Castle in Cumberland; and of His Posterity in the Two Succeeding Generations; Written in the Year 1791, by the Rev. Wm. Gilpin, Vicar of Boldre: Together with an Account of the Author by Himself, William Jackson (ed.) (London, 1879), pp. 1718.

[13] John Mordant, The Complete Steward: Or, The Duty of a Steward to his Lord, 2 vols. (London, 1761), I, Preface.

[14] Sir James Lowther, letter to John Spedding, 6 June 1732, Cumbria Archive Centre, Carlisle, DH/250.

[15] Sir James Lowther, letter to John Spedding, 17 June 1732, Cumbria Archive Centre, Carlisle, DH/250.

[16] Defoe, Tour, III, 136.

[17] Sir John Lowther, letter to John Spedding, 17 June 1732, Cumbria Archive Centre, Carlisle, DH/250.

[18] Sir James Lowther, letter to John Spedding, 7 October 1738, Cumbria Archive Centre, Carlisle, DH/250. Examples of prints depicting industrial landscapes done to attract investment would include William Winstanley’s little-known South Prospect of Prescot in Lancashire (1744; Maps K.Top.18.82) and Thomas Smith’s now more familiar companion views of Coalbrookdale (1758; Maps K.Top.36.26.a-c).

[19] For the Bucks’ early involvement in the scheme, see James Spedding, letter to John Spedding, 14 October 1738, Cumbria Archive Centre, Carlisle, DH/250.

[20] James Spedding, letter to John Spedding, 14 October 1738, Cumbria Archive Centre, Carlisle, DH/250.

[21] The print exists in two different versions: the one shown here being a deluxe, two-sheet edition that bears a detailed key and includes additional figures, notably a horse-drawn carriage making its way in the direction of The Flatt. A good deal rarer, this more refined version was perhaps printed up to attract subscriptions. For a copy, see British Library, Maps K.Top.10.24.a.

  • John Bonehill
  • Dr John Bonehill is a lecturer in the history of art at the University of Glasgow. His research interests encompass British art and culture in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, art, travel and natural history and the work of the Paul and Thomas Sandby.

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