Sunday, 21 August 2011


In one respect Exmouth cannot be faulted. It has the finest charity shops in the South West. There is no end to the treasures to be unearthed in the Exeter Road and elsewhere. A charity shopper in Exmouth is a prince of Serendip.

Last Friday I bought the original copper line engraving here illustrated for six pounds only. It is one of the illustrations to "The Beauties of England & Wales", a series of books published between 1801 and 1815 and the print is entitled "Powderham Castle. &c. Devonshire". It was engraved by W. Angus from a drawing by W M Craig.

Mr Craig,the artist, is sitting on a sand dune at Dawlish Warren and the windmill in the middle ground is on the Point at Exmouth. This is a rare glimpse of this windmill which did not survive the middle of the nineteenth century. It is high water and calm and the Warren is busy. Then as now it is a grand place to beach boats and to attend to them. The mariner in the foreground sitting on a barrel is holding a bumkin or bumpkin. 'Bumkin' is a lovely word from the Dutch boomken , a little boom. He has been working no doubt but like most boatmen he has time to listen to a tale, today from the knock kneed mariner in the tarred hat. To the left is a fishing party setting out. If my eyes don't deceive me the standing figure in the boat is handling a net.

The western bank of the Exe looks as deserted as any African riverbank. Haldon is bald, a wild tract of common rather than a forest. That lone building at the end of the Point must surely be a boatyard. This corner of Exmouth would appear to boast only four boats where now are a hundred and these few boats are not moored but pulled up on the beach. There are no boats shown to be moored on the Estuary but we cannot see the Bight where the big ships ride. Powderham Castle and its new Belvedere are not for me the most interesting things in this picture. I prefer the &c. But the magnificent castle walls are gleaming in the sun.

1 comment:

  1. This image has been puzzling me for a couple of days; even with the liberties it takes with scale (Powderham and Belvedere aren't that visible from Dawlish Warren) I can't quite see how the location works. It almost makes more sense flipped-left-to-right - such a reversal isn't a wildly uncommon mishap with copper plate engravings. That would place the viewpoint on the eastern shore maybe 1/4 mile north of where Exmouth Railway Station is now, with the Point appearing in the left middle distance.