This page is referenced by:
Quick view of plates in Volume One
- Title page and Table of contents [page 3 and page 4] (scholarly commentary)
- Plate i: A bronze lamp excavated from St. Leonard's Hill near Windsor (scholarly commentary)
- Plate ii: Horn of Ulf (scholarly commentary)
- Plate iii: Baptismal Font, in St. James' Church, Westminster (scholarly commentary)
- Plate iv: Ancient image of Richard II, King of England (scholarly commentary)
- Plate v: Three ancient figures (scholarly commentary)
- Plate vi: Ruins of Walsingham Abbey in the county of Norfolk (scholarly commentary)
- Plate vii: Waltham Cross, in the county of Middlesex (scholarly commentary)
- Plate viii: The ruins of the walls and city of Verulamium [St. Alban's] in the county of Hertford (scholarly commentary)
- Plates ix, x, xi and xii: Fountains Abbey in the county of York (scholarly commentary)
- Plate xiii and xiv:Three views of the Gate of St. Bennet’s Abbey in Norfolk, in two plates (scholarly commentary)
- Plate xv: The Tomb of Robart Colles and Cecili, his wif (scholarly commentary)
- Plate xvi: The Tomb of St. Edward the Confessor, King of England (scholarly commentary)
- Plate xvii: The North Front of the Gate at Whitehall (scholarly commentary)
- Plate xviii: The North Front of King's Street Gate (scholarly commentary)
- Plate xix: Plans of the two proceeding Gates, in one Plate (scholarly commentary)
- Plate xx: Coins of Henry VIII, Elizabeth and James I, Kings of England: Likewise, and image of Elizabeth Expressed in encaustic work (scholarly commentary)
- Plate xxi: Excerpt from Edward Hall's Chronicle of Henry VIII (scholarly commentary)
- Plate xxii, xxiii, xxiv, xxv and xxvi: The Tournament of Henry VIII, February 12, 1510: Ingraved from an ancient roll in the Heralds Office, London in six plates. A-S (scholarly commentary)
- Plate xxvii: The present day appearance of Furness Abbey in the county of Lancashire (scholarly commentary)
- Plates xxviii, xxix, xxx, xxxi, xxxii and xxxiii: Letters from the English Barons to Boniface VIII (scholarly commentary)
- Plate xxxiv: Head gilded from bronze, of ancient work, excavated at Aquae Sulis (Bath) (scholarly commentary)
- Plate xxxv: Distant view of Colchester Castle, Essex
- Plate xxxvi: Ground plan, south and east prospects of Colchester Castle
- Plate xxxvii: A table of English silver coins
- Plate xxxviii: A table of English gold coins
- Plate xxxix: Tutbury Castle, Staffordshire (scholarly commentary)
- Plate xl: Melbourne Castle, Derbyshire (scholarly commentary)
- Plate xli: Lancaster Castle, Lancashire (scholarly commentary)
- Plate xlii: Pontefract Castle, Yorkshire (scholarly commentary)
- Plate xliii: Coins struck in France and Flanders relating to the History of England
- Plate xliv: Knaresborough Castle, Yorkshire
- Plate xlv: Image of the greatly revered Thomas Tanner, Bishop of St. Asaph's and not long ago a most worthy associate of this society
- Plate xlvi: Tickhill an old castle
- Plate xlvii: A plan of the Roman roads in Yorkshire (scholarly commentary)
- Plate xlviii: Coins struck in France and Flanders relating to the History of England (scholarly commentary)
- Plate xlix: Ancient chapel adjoining to the Bishops palace at Hereford
- Plates L, LI and LII : Roman mosaic peacock (scholarly commentary)
- Plate liii: Antient seals
- Plate liv: Antient seals
- Plate lv: Fronts and backs of medals and gold coins
- Plate lvi: Gold and silver coins annotated with weights and values
- Plate LVII: Hypocaustum Romanun Lincolniae (scholarly commentary)
- Plate lviii: Antient seals
- Plate lix: Antient seals
- Plate lx: Antient seals
- Plate lxi: Winchester Cross
- Plate lxii: Decree imposed against the papal jurisdiction in England in the year 1534
- Plate lxiii: True and exact draft of the Tower Liberties
- Plate lxiv: Chichester cross
- Plate lxv: Astianax vicit Kalendio
- Plate lxvi: Portrait of Robert Cotton
- Plate lxvii: "Bibliothecae Cognominiis conditoris, Effigies, Ad archetypum opera depictum accurate expressa "
- Plate lxviii: Codice Geneseos Cottoniano Dissertatio Historica (excerpt)
- Plate lxix: Codice Geneseos Cottoniano Dissertatio Historica (excerpt)
- Plate lxx: Fragmentorum codicis Cottoniani libri Geneseos Tabula I
- Plate lxx: Fragmentorum codicis Cottoniani libri Geneseos Tabula II
- Standard of weights and measures in the Exchequer
- "View of the Court of Wards and Liveries with the Officers, Servants and other Persons there Assembled"
- Brief account of the Court of Wards and Liveries [page 1]
- Brief account of the Court of Wards and Liveries [page 2]
- Brief account of the Court of Wards and Liveries [page 3]
Plate IV: Ancient image of Richard II, King of England
Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0
TranscriptionRichardus II Rex Angliae. Ex tabula antiquissima In Choro D. Petri Westmonast: Pulvinari insidet aureo induiturque interiori veste viridi cui grandius culi intexuntur Flores aurie, et Nominis sui elementum initiale coronatum: uterque Pes emicat ostro et crepidis aureis velatus: totum circum fundit Trabea coccinea Pellibus Armenianis duplicata, quae et aureo Collari subnectitur. Gypso inaurato variisque Flosculis et Crucibus protuberanti quod reliquum est Tabulae obducitur. Societas Londini Rei Antiquariae Studiosa in Aere incidi Curavit AD MDCCXVIII. Ex collectione J. Talman, Ar. Vertue Sculp.
Translation [EB]Richard II, King of England, From a most ancient painting in the sanctuary of St. Peter’s Westminster: He sits in gold filigree and is dressed in a green garment, the lower parts of which are covered in golden flowers and his first initial, which is crowned: each foot shines in purple and is covered in gold slippers: This is covered by a white mantle [trabea], lined with scarlet ermine, and is also secured with a gold collar. The remainder of the painting is covered with gilded gypsum and various small flowers and raised crosses. The Society of Antiquaries of London undertook its engraving in copper in the year 1718. From the collection of J. Talman, Esquire. Vertue, engraver.Engraved by George Vertue after Giuseppe Grisoni in 1718. From the collection of John Talman. The minutes for 19 February 1718 state that “it is proposd . . . to engrave Richard ii’s picture in Westminster Abby, and Mr. Director Talman is desird and authorisd to have a Drawing taken of it with all convenient speed” (qtd. in Evans 1956:63). The print was distributed to members and also released to booksellers to sell at two shillings and sixpence a copy (with sixpence profit to the sellers).
Object:Portrait of Richard II, oil on panel, c. 1395, 7’ x 3 ½’. Formerly attributed to André Beauneveu. The raised gesso background, cross, and scepter featured prominently in the engraving were leveled when the painting was restored in 1866; the current frame was also added at that time.
Provenance and Location:Westminster Abbey, on the south side of the nave near the west entrance. Probably painted in situ and moved to its current location when the old stalls were dismantled in 1775.
Commentary [NH]Vertue’s highly finished engraving of this historic portrait (as drawn for the purpose by Giuseppe Grisoni) lavishes attention on the king’s robes, reproducing the materials and drapery with minute precision. In one respect however, the eighteenth-century artists depart significantly from the original. The painting shows a sour-faced king, with the corners of his mouth turned downward, leading Richard’s biographer Nigel Saul to observe that “in the haunting portrait in Westminster Abbey he comes across as a lonely, even a bitter, man” (Saul 1997: 453). The engraving not only turns the corners of his mouth upward, it also erases the strong lines leading from the nose down to the corners of the mouth and considerably widens the eyes and forehead, creating a more youthful and benevolent monarch. In addition, there is an obvious error, a left-right reversal common in print media: in the painting, Richard’s left eye is higher than his right. Other minor alterations are more decorative in nature: the shape of the crown is more slender and elegant, Richard’s hair is more orderly, and the artist (presumably Grisoni) has employed a more sophisticated knowledge of perspective to give the seat and arms of the chair more depth.Unlike the previous two plates (plate iii and plate ii), prepared from pre-existing drawings, both the drawing and the engraving for this plate were specially commissioned for the series, as indicated by the Minute Book (SAL Minutes I.94). As usual with these early plates, the minutes provide no clue as to the antiquaries’ motivation for recording (and preserving) this object. Like the previous two plates, this one shows a substantial work of art permanently exhibited in a church and unlikely to be moved or exhibited elsewhere. With its choice of a late medieval artifact, this plate falls between the previous two in date, indicating that the chronological scope of Vetusta Monumenta was broad and ambitious from the beginning. The choice of subject seems to have more to do with the quality of the painting than with a resurgence of interest in Richard himself, though the volume as a whole shows a strong interest in royal monuments including Edward I’s Eleanor Crosses (plate vii), the tomb of Edward the Confessor (plates xvi, xvii and xviii), and a roll depicting a tournament at the court of Henry VIII (plates xxi-xxvi) (also in Westminster Abbey). Apart from its size and splendor, special features of the painting highlighted by the Latin caption include extensive gilding and the use of raised and textured surfaces, especially the background, which the engraving captures well. Most important, it is a “very old” painting, today still one of the oldest known examples of panel painting in England, and hence an important exhibit in the case for legitimate British antiquities.Part of the task of interpreting this plate is to reconcile the antiquarian interest of the picture, as “the earliest known portrait of an English monarch” (Westminster-abbey.org), with its intrinsic aesthetic appeal. Vertue’s engraving uses careful shading to achieve in black-and-white a surprising degree of the visual interest highlighted in the same modern description: “the vivid colours show the king in a green tunic decorated with the letter R, wearing a crimson robe lined with ermine, an ermine cape, vermilion socks and gold shoes.” Richard is shown seated in the so-called Coronation Chair built by Edward I, which has been used for every English monarch’s coronation since that time (the chair was moved to Scotland in 1996). In keeping with Richard’s reputation for show, this portrait consolidates into the pictorial space many of the material symbols of royal power. As suggested by Joseph Ayloffe’s research in the muniment room of Westminster a few decades later, the antiquaries had an abiding interest in archival material and probably were aware of the documents that verify Richard’s particular generosity toward the abbey. He also supplied £20 to the Abbey to pay the artist (still unidentified) for this and another work (Lethaby 1934: 221).The engraving produces a king who conforms more closely than the original portrait to a historiographic tendency established during Richard’s lifetime by the poet John Gower, who called him “the most beautiful of kings” and “the flower of boys” (Gower qtd. in Saul 1997: 452). Laurence Echard, whose History of England was published the same year as this engraving, similarly refers to Richard as “the most amiable and handsom” prince, “as to his person,” since the Norman Conquest (Echard 1718: 413), while also lamenting that he obtained “the most absolute power”—a more familiar aspect of Richard’s legacy. Saul also touches on Richard’s appearance, and concern with his appearance, when he notes that “no English king before Henry VIII devoted so much attention to the portrayal of himself” (460).The writings of Ayloffe, an important contributor to Vetusta Monumenta and Archaeologia in the 1770s, suggest another, possibly more substantive reason why the antiquaries might have focused on this splendid and very early example of English painting. Ayloffe was one of several antiquaries who sought to establish the legitimacy of British antiquities—both the importance of artifacts themselves and the seriousness of the field of study. The long tradition of fine art painting implied by this portrait of Richard would have provided support for this cause. In a paper originally read before the Society of Antiquaries in 1770, Ayloffe argues that “ancient paintings” not only attest to the high artistic standards of early modern England but also provide invaluable non-verbal evidence of cultural practices in earlier periods (Ayloffe 1775: 189). Ayloffe’s advocacy led the Society to initiate a separate series of historical prints in the 1770s, including a monumental engraving of the work singled out by Ayloffe in this article, a 1520 painting of the Field of the Cloth of Gold in Windsor Castle. Ayloffe’s account of medieval paintings in Westminster Abbey appears in a later number of Vetusta Monumenta (Ayloffe 1780). Though he does not mention the portrait of Richard II specifically, this 1718 engraving anticipates the Society’s later emphasis on early modern paintings as grand historical records.The twentieth-century attempt to use this painting to found an “English school” provides an analogy that may help to clarify the motivations behind this engraving. According to Nash, “Over the course of almost three decades in the early twentieth century . . . two paintings, the Wilton Diptych and the Westminster portrait of Richard II, were successively attributed and de-attributed to Beauneveu” (2007: 182). In Nash’s view, these attributions constituted “an attempt on the part of English historians to acquire in Beauneveu an author for two iconic works central to the early history of English art” or to “conscript” him “as the founder of English Painting” (183)—despite the lack of any other surviving paintings to support the attribution. The antiquaries were less concerned with attribution—the caption here does not mention it—but they placed a similarly high value on the painting itself.Preservation in the modern sense is not likely to have been a primary motive behind this plate, but in the wake of an ill-advised restoration in 1866, it turns out to have significant documentary value. As confirmed by a mid-nineteenth-century photograph, the ornamental ground of the painting was part of the original composition. In Lethaby’s words, “it was painted on a diapered gilt ground and had a crown, globe, and scepter of raised gesso work” (Lethaby 1934: 220). This raised design was scraped off in the 1866 restoration due to a mistaken belief that the design was added in the Tudor period.
Works CitedAyloffe, Joseph. 1775. “An Historical Description of an Ancient Picture in Windsor Castle.” Archaeologia 3: 185-229.---. 1789. “An Account of Some Ancient Monuments in Westminster Abbey.” 1780. Vetusta Monumenta 2: 1-15, following plate 35.
Echard, Laurence. 1718. The History of England. Vol. 1. London: Printed for Jacob Tonson.Harris, Jim. 2007. “(Re-)making Beauneveu: The Construction of a ‘Great Artist.’” In No Equal in Any Land: Andre Beauneveu, edited by Susie Nash. 178-89. London: Paul Holberton.
Lethaby, W. R. 1934. “The Westminster Portrait of Richard II.” Burlington Magazine 65: 220-22.
Saul, Nigel. 1997. Richard II. 449-53. New Haven: Yale UP.
Society of Antiquaries of London. 1718-. Minutes of the Society’s Proceedings.
Further ReadingHepburn, Frederick. 1986. Portraits of the Later Plantagenets. Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer. Ch. 1.
McLure, Ian. 2001. “’This Picture Will Come Out Gloriously’: The Restoration of the Portrait of Richard II.” New Offerings, Ancient Treasures: Studies in Medieval Art for George Henderson, edited by Paul Binski and William Noel. 457-77. Thrupp, Stroud, Gloucestershire : Sutton.
Introduction to the digital edition of Vetusta Monumenta
Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0
(Alain Schnapp, Discovering the Past)
Vetusta Monumenta [Ancient Monuments], published in seven volumes between 1747 and 1906, was the first of four major publication series launched by the Society of Antiquaries of London in the eighteenth century. Plates i, ii, iii and iv were published individually in 1718, the year the society was formally re-established at the Mitre Tavern. By commissioning these engravings, the society defined its research agenda in terms of preservation, visual documentation, and collecting. This agenda, and the publication of images as a means of pursuing it, remained consistent throughout the eighteenth century, even though membership grew steadily—and steadily richer—from the original socially diverse group of eighteen members to 300 in 1770 and 800 by 1820 (Pearce 2007: 147).
In 1751, the Society of Antiquaries received its royal charter, which gave it a status equal to the Royal Society and charged its Fellows with “the encouragement, advancement and furtherance of the study and knowledge of the antiquities and history of this and other countries.” In keeping with this broad mission, the objects selected for inclusion in Vetusta Monumenta form a large and varied set, ranging from artifacts such as a Romano-British Marble bust and medieval monastic seals to architectural monuments including Fountains Abbey. The objects depicted range in age from roughly the 3rd to the 17th century CE. Since some charters, maps, and other documents were also engraved for the series, the distinction between “history” and “antiquities” can be deployed to class the engravings loosely as historical (documents) and antiquarian (artifacts and monuments), but this distinction is more a product of twentieth-century historiography than of the antiquaries’ own motives.
The first secretary, William Stukeley, recorded at the first meeting that the society was formed “with a design at their own charge to collect and print and keep exact Registers . . . of all Antient Monuments that come into their hands” (qtd. in Evans 1956: 58). John Talman, the first director, was later credited with the original idea of publishing a series of prints (Evans 1956: 62n7). Fellows of the society received a copy of each engraving as a benefit of membership and additional copies went to book- and printsellers--but rarely enough to make up the deficit between the cost of the prints and revenue from membership dues.
Selecting subjects for the engravings was a major responsibility of the Fellows, and later specifically the Council, of the Society of Antiquaries. Neither the engraver nor the director had editorial control of these decisions, and some entries in the Society’s Minute Books record the lively discussion that sometimes accompanied the selection process. Although some critics protested that the objects were miscellaneous and often trivial, Vetusta Monumenta effectively promoted the history of everyday life. “By producing representations of everyday objects,” as Bernard Nurse has observed, “the Society extended the idea of what would be acceptable for publication” (Nurse 2007: 143).
Vetusta Monumenta tells a story that is both deeply illuminating for the history of preservation and uniquely relevant for readers and scholars in a digital age. By looking at the kinds of objects chosen for these engravings, we gain insight into the debate over what counts as evidence and what counts as history. By tracing the series from the early individual plates to the formation of a lavish scholarly book publication, we witness the transformation of eclectic private scholarship into a public discourse of antiquities engaged with the literary marketplace. The highly finished, visually captivating quality of many of these prints is matched by their historical significance as records of the state of many monuments that have deteriorated since the eighteenth century; in more than a few cases, these prints provide the sole record of artifacts and monuments that do not themselves survive. A digital scholarly edition of the images and accompanying text materially furthers this goal of preservation and makes the work accessible to a much wider audience. The images owe their strong aesthetic appeal as well as their accuracy to the laborious technique of copper engraving, which also made the original volumes prohibitively expensive for most readers. Now the volumes are extremely rare and even the existing digital version is neither open access nor of high quality. The present edition makes Vetusta Monumenta genuinely accessible, not just by reproducing the content but by providing scholarly commentary, digital search tools, and all the features of a modern digital edition.
By 1747, 70 engravings had been published, enough to form a substantial volume (for which the title Vetusta Monumenta was created). The second volume, with 55 more plates, appeared in 1789. Beginning with Plate xx of this volume (originally published in 1763), the editors began to include letterpress “explanations of the plates” with each engraving or subset of engravings, instead of including text in the form of a caption or on the plate itself. (Some essays on the objects depicted were also written before 1763, but these were published separately.) These explanations considerably swelled the size of the volumes, and not coincidentally the Society launched its second serial publication, the learned journal Archaeologia, at about the same time (1770). Volume III, the last volume included here, was published in 1796 with 44 plates and about 200 pages of letterpress.
During its first fifty years of publication, the most important figure involved with Vetusta Monumenta was the engraver George Vertue (1684-1756), who was also a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. Vertue engraved all but one of the first 90 plates and also made several of the original drawings. During the rest of the eighteenth century, the central figure was Richard Gough (1735-1809), who became Director of the Society of Antiquaries in 1768. After Vertue, there were no engravers in the Society, which was by now more expensive to join and more genteel in its composition. Gough’s predecessor hired the engraver James Basire (Sr), whose workshop (later led by James Basire Jr) created all the engravings for Vetusta Monumenta from 1765 as well as hundreds of engravings for Archaeologia, the society’s Cathedral Series (1795-1810), and individual publications by members. The last of Vertue’s plates (II.xx) was published posthumously in 1763 and the engraving work passed to Basire in 1765 (II.xxi-ii).
For a brief period, the Society turned its attention to a new series of larger historical prints and no new engravings were published for Vetusta Monumenta between 1770 and 1780 (Nurse 2007: 144). Gough, however, ensured the continuation of the series with seven new plates in 1780 and twenty more by 1789, all with extensive letterpress explications. Though the objects depicted varied widely, the standard form of the prints in each of the two phases (under Vertue and Gough, respectively) helped to establish a recognizable connoisseurial and scholarly idiom. Imperial folio size paper (21 ½ x 14 ½ inches) was used throughout along with a relatively uniform style of engraving and captioning, later giving way to added letterpress. When the first series was bound into a volume, a Latinized subtitle was added, pointing toward conservation (“preserving the memory of [British] things”) as the unified research agenda; this language is reminiscent of Stukeley's insistence on visual documentation in the preface to his Itinerarium Curiosum (Stukeley 1724; Nurse 2007: 143).
The gradually increasing emphasis on text and interpretation in Vetusta Monumenta reflects the shift of primary editorial responsibility from Vertue, an artist and engraver, to Gough, a scholar whose agenda for the society as a whole centered on research and publication. The decision not to include commentary (even when available) over the first 1 ½ volumes, however, does not imply any defect of scholarship on the part of Vertue or the society’s first director, John Talman. Rather, the later expansion of Vetusta Monumenta reflects an increasingly strict division of labor characteristic of the later eighteenth century. In the early decades, not only the engravings, but also some of the original drawings, were produced by Fellows of the Society of Antiquaries including Stukeley and Talman. Later in the century, by contrast, both Basire and draftsmen such as John Carter and Jacob Schnebbelie were hired on a contract basis and regarded as more or less menial. They were considered “practical antiquaries” (Gough 1799: II.i.7) as distinct from those who wrote the scholarly text now seen as central to the discipline. Horace Walpole’s assessment of Vertue captures the earlier integral relationship between engraving and art historical scholarship, along with the emphasis on preservation, embodied in the earlier decades of Vetusta Monumenta: “The many valuable monuments relating to our history, and the persons of our monarchs and great men, which he saved from oblivion, are lasting evidences of his merit” (Walpole 1796: I.i).
As Nurse has observed, three of the plates in volume I (33, 42, 48) were engraved from rediscovered drawings of monuments that had already been destroyed, and Sam Smiles notes that the series was produced “at a time of social and economic change, with many sites vulnerable to ‘improvement’ or demolition” (Smiles 2007: 123). A remark from one of Gough’s independent scholarly books, Sepulchral Monuments, signals a generalized anxiety about the loss of monuments that is also indicative for Vetusta Monumenta. “In a few years more we shall have no foundation left for such a work,” Gough declares, and proceeds to list several monuments that are “crumbling away without having been drawn” (Gough 1799: I.3-4).
Modern scholarship has attended to some individual plates from Vetusta Monumenta, but there has been no systematic account of the publication series as a whole. In recent years, discussion of these plates has revolved around the question of preservation. Maria Grazia Lolla, Rosemary Sweet, and Martin Myrone have all commented specifically on two plates depicting Waltham Cross, one of the “Eleanor Crosses” erected by Edward I in memory of his queen between 1291 and 1294 (vol. 1, plate vii, and vol. 3, plate xvi). The society paid for wooden posts to protect the cross from traffic, but this was a trifling effort compared to the expense and care lavished on the print series and other scholarly activities intended to serve preservation. The antiquaries themselves noticed this paradox: “Vetusta Monumenta flourished and the monuments of medieval England fell into decay,” as Joan Evans reflected in her history of this phase of the institution (Evans 1956: 192).
Although Vetusta Monumenta has made real contributions to preservation, the engravings collected here also served purposes that were clearly not subservient to the ostensible intention of preserving monuments, including social prestige and aestheticizing representation. These contradictions have led some scholars, such as Lolla and Myrone, to caution against taking the antiquaries’ preservationist claims at face value and instead to emphasize the ideological character of antiquarian prints as representations. A contrasting modern view, represented by Smiles and Matthew Reeve, insists on their continuing evidentiary function as visual documentation. More popular illustrated collections of antiquities, by such figures as Samuel and Nathaniel Buck and later John Britton (himself a Fellow of the Society), competed with and ultimately displaced Vetusta Monumenta among general readers by the late eighteenth century.
Vetusta Monumenta provides a uniquely rich record for scholars in the humanities today, who are increasingly interested in the study of objects and material culture. These engravings provide an intimate record of the kinds of objects collectively judged to be important, not by a single author or thinker, but by a large body of scholars and amateurs over the course of eight decades (and beyond, although the nineteenth-century volumes are outside the scope of the present edition). The energies of these wildly diverse objects, ranging from a Roman plumbing system to a lavish royal portrait to an early Tudor table of weights and measures, exceed the aesthetic framework in which they are placed. In some cases, the engravings become entangled with the afterlives of the objects themselves; the engraving of the Westminster portrait of Richard II (plate iv), for instance, preserves a record of the raised gesso ground confirmed as an original feature of the painting by modern scholars after it was scraped off the original by Victorian restorers. Humanists from many disciplines, whether embracing or resisting influential methodologies such as Actor-Network Theory (Latour 2005), Thing Theory (Brown 2004), or Object-Oriented Ontology (Harman 2002), may find in Vetusta Monumenta a cluster of objects both highly mediated and uniquely redolent of the intimacy in which their humans lived with them.
While many of the plates present objects in a state of ruin, it would be unhistorical to divorce ruin as a merely picturesque state from ruin as a material condition that demanded archaeological knowledge. Readers of this edition, who also have the Internet at their disposal to compare these beautiful engravings with modern photographs and research, can decide for themselves. While every effort was made not to damage the books in the course of scanning their pages for this edition, some inevitable wear and tear led us to contemplate a similar paradox. Preservation is one legitimate motive for producing a state-of-the-art digital analogue for these images that represent the state of the art in mechanical reproduction for their time. More important, we hope this edition will stimulate the same curiosity, wonder, and skepticism that we have experienced, especially for readers who do not have access to the original volumes. Vetusta Monumenta (I-III) offers a rich repository of antiquarian images and scholarship from a time when the scope and status of antiquity became open and often fiercely contested questions.
Brown, Bill, ed. 2004. Things. Chicago: U of Chicago P.
Evans, Joan. 1956. A History of the Society of Antiquaries. London: Society of Antiquaries.
George II of England. 1751. Society of Antiquaries of London Royal Charter. [Quoted in sal.org.uk.]
Gough, Richard. 1786-96 . Sepulchral Monuments in Great Britain. 2 vols. in 5. London: Printed by J. Nichols, for the author.
Harman, Graham. 2002. Tool-Being: Heidegger and the Metaphysics of Objects. Peru, IL: Open Court.
Latour, Bruno. 2005. Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network Theory. Oxford: Oxford UP.
Lolla, Maria Grazia. 1999. “Ceci n’est pas un monument: Vetusta Monumenta and Antiquarian Aesthetics.” In Producing the Past: Aspects of Antiquarian Culture and Practice, 1700-1850, edited by Martin Myrone and Lucy Peltz. 15-34. Aldershot: Ashgate.
Myrone, Martin. 2007. “Society of Antiquaries and the Graphic Arts: George Vertue and His Legacy.” In Visions of Antiquity: The Society of Antiquaries of London, 1707-2007, edited by Susan Pearce. 98-121. London: SAL.
Nurse, Bernard. 2007. "Bringing Truth to Light." In Making History: Antiquaries in Britain, 1707-2007, edited by David Gaimster and David Starkey. 143-45. London: Royal Academy, 2007.
Pearce, Susan. 2007. “Antiquaries and the Interpretation of Ancient Objects, 1770-1820.” In Visions of Antiquity: The Society of Antiquaries of London, 1707-2007, edited by Susan Pearce. 147-74. London: SAL.
Reeve, Matthew. 2007. “Jacob Schnebbelie, Draughtsman to the Society of Antiquaries (1760-92), and the Politics of Preservation in Late Eighteenth-Century England.” Transactions of the Ancient Monuments Society 51: 69-86.
---. 2008. Thirteenth-century Wall Painting of Salisbury Cathedral: Art, Liturgy, and Reform. Suffolk: Boydell and Brewer.
Smiles, Sam. 2007. "The Art of Recording." In Making History: Antiquaries in Britain, 1707-2007, edited by David Gaimster and David Starkey. 123-25. London: Royal Academy.
---. 2003. “Data, Documentation and Display in Eighteenth-Century Investigations of Exeter Cathedral.” In Tracing Architecture: The Aesthetics of Antiquarianism, edited by Dana Arnold and Stephen Bending. 80-99. Oxford: Blackwell.
---. 2000. Eye Witness: Artists and Visual Documentation in Britain, 1770-1830. Aldershot: Ashgate.
Stukeley, William. 1724. Itinerarium Curiosum. Or, An Account of the Antiquitys and Remarkable Curiositys in Nature or Art, Observ’d in Travels thro’ Great Brittan. London: Printed for the Author.
Sweet, Rosemary. 2004. Antiquaries: The Discovery of the Past in Eighteenth-Century Britain. London: Hambledon and London.
Walpole, Horace. 1796. Anecdotes of Painting in England . . . Collected by the late Mr. George Vertue. 4th edition. London: Printed for R. Dodsley.
Evans, Joan. 1956. A History of the Society of Antiquaries. London: Society of Antiquaries.
Gaimster, David, and David Starkey, eds. 2007. Making History: Antiquaries in Britain, 1707-2007. London: Royal Academy.
Gough, Richard. 1770. Introduction. Archaeologia 1: i-xxxix.
Myrone, Martin, and Lucy Peltz, eds. 1999. Producing the Past: Aspects of Antiquarian Culture and Practice, 1700-1850. Aldershot: Ashgate.
Pearce, Susan, ed. 2007. Visions of Antiquity: The Society of Antiquaries of London, 1707-2007. London: SAL.
Schnapp, Alain. 1997. The Discovery of the Past: the Origins of Archaeology. New York: Harry N. Abrams.
Society of Antiquaries of London. 1754. Queries Proposed to Gentlemen in the Several Parts of Great Britain, in Hope of Obtaining from Their Answers a Better Knowledge of Its Antiquities and Natural History. London.
---. 1747-1906. Vetusta Monumenta. 7 vols. London: SAL.
Sweet, Rosemary. 2004. Antiquaries: The Discovery of the Past in Eighteenth-Century Britain. London: Hambledon and London.
- 1 2016-02-23T09:45:41+00:00 Westminster Abbey | Objects held at Westminster Abbey 7 Plate IV | Plate XVI plain 2018-02-28T11:00:38+00:00 Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 51.5000,-0.1167
Plate XLVI: Tickhill Castle in Yorkshire
A bronze lamp excavated from St. Leonard's Hill near Windsor
Transcription:TICKHILL an Old CASTLE near Doncaster in YORK-SHIRE. Surrounded with a single Wall only, and in the Middle a large Mount, on the Top of it a round Tower. William ye Conqueror gave it to Roger de Buisly with 49 Mannors in this Shire; it was of such Dignity (in old Times) that all the Mannors round belonging to it were stiled the HONOUR of TICKHILL. K. Henry 1st seized upon this Honour of Tickhill, and other succeeding Kings did the like, this having been several times in the Crown, was by K. Edward ye 3rd (Pat.46.E.3.m.35.) given to John of Gaunt Duke of Lancaster, from whom it pass’d to the Crown by the Succession of his Son King Henry 4th and has remain’d in the Dutchy ever since.
Plate:Engraving by George Vertue after a drawing of Tickhill Castle from the reign of Queen Elizabeth. The original drawing belonged to a cache of nine Elizabethan drawings of castles held by the office of the Duchy of Lancaster. They were produced to illustrate a survey of the properties of the Duchy of Lancaster, undertaken by the Chancellor of the Duchy, Ambrose Cave, in 1561. Smart Lethieullier’s discovery of these drawings during a visit to the duchy office ultimately led the Society of Antiquaries of London to commission George Vertue to engrave eight of these drawings on 20 April 1732 (SAL Minutes I.288); see Plate 1.39 above for a more detailed discussion of this sequence of events. Vertue exhibited a preparatory drawing of Tickhill Castle, based on the original Elizabethan drawing, at the meeting on 25 January 1733 (II.9). He brought a proof print to another meeting on 28 April 1737 at which 450 prints were ordered (III.7-8). 400 prints were delivered on 5 May 1737 (III.10). At this meeting, the members also instructed Vertue to deliver three prints to the Duke of Rutland, who had lent the SAL the original drawings and who had already been gifted a set of plates showing the duchy castles of Lancaster, Knaresborough and Pontefract (II.150).
Object:The plate shows the medieval castle of Tickhill Castle in South Yorkshire, based on a drawing completed in 1561 when Ambrose Cave, chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, ordered it to be surveyed along with the other properties of the duchy. Besides the castle, dominated by the imposing motte topped by the keep, and a number of buildings inside the castle’s bailey, the plate also shows houses and churches most likely belonging to the parishes of Tickhill and Laughton-en-le-Morthen, two watermills and mill dams, one windmill, two forests, a pair of resting cows and three rustic figures, a rider leading two spare horses, a man walking towards the watermill to the right of the plate, and two touring antiquaries with a horse in the foreground.
The oldest remains of the castle date to the twelfth century. At this time, an older timber castle – erected as a Norman stronghold in the eleventh century – was rebuilt in stone. The gatehouse and part of the curtain wall were constructed under Henry I in the early twelfth century. Towards the end of the twelfth century, Henry II invested considerable sums in the improvement of Tickhill Castle’s fortifications: he had the eleven-sided keep, a new stone bridge and a new curtain wall erected. The castle was periodically repaired over the next centuries, but it was only in the early seventeenth century, that substantial building activities took place once more when Sir Ralph Hansby leased the castle from James I. The castle served as royalist garrison during the Civil War but surrendered in 1646 and was demolished on the order of parliament soon afterwards (Hey 2003: 70-71). Today, parts of the castle grounds and Tickhill Castle House (a large hall built within the courtyard of the castle after the Civil War) are leased to a private tenant. The remains of the medieval castle – the motte, the foundations of the keep, parts of the curtain wall and of the gatehouse – are open to the public once per year.
Commentary by Katharina BoehmThis print completes the series of six plates, based on Elizabethan drawings and featuring castles belonging to the Duchy of Lancaster, which were included in the first volume of Vetusta Monumenta (two additional plates showing castles of the duchy were included in volume 2). Like the other duchy castles, Tickhill Castle belonged to the crown for large parts of its existence. However, unlike castles such as Pontefract, Knaresborough and Lancaster, Tickhill Castle had rarely served as setting for cataclysmic historical events and had, therefore, received little attention from antiquaries. In the early 1730s, when the members of the Society of Antiquaries of London (SAL) tasked George Vertue with the production of this print, information about the castle’s history could be found in the duchy’s records but little of this information had found its way into printed sources. Prior to Vertue’s engraving, there appear to have been no prints of Tickhill Castle in circulation. Not even the prolific Samuel Buck, who stopped near Tickhill to draw the ruin of Roche Abbey in 1725 (Buck 1725), made time for what remained of the medieval castle at this point: the dramatic motte and the foundations of the keep, parts of the gatehouse, and the curtain wall.
A source which evidently informed the Society’s discussion of Tickhill Castle was William Camden’s Britannia, because Camden’s short description of the castle and account of its history are echoed in the text printed on the plate. Camden’s description of Tickhill begins: ‘an old castle, which is large, but only surrounded with a single wall, and by a huge mount with a round tower on the top of it. It was of such dignity heretofore, that all the manours hereabouts appertaining to it, were stil’d, the Honour of Tickhill’ (Camden 1722, II.850). The Honour of Tickhill (now usually referred to by historians as the Honour of Blyth-Tickill), which is also mentioned in the text on the plate, was newly formed after the Norman Conquest and comprised a belt of land extending across the northern part of Nottinghamshire and into Yorkshire, framed by the Humberhead marshes to the east and the Pennines to the west. Roger de Busli, the Norman Baron who fought alongside William the Conqueror and became the first owner of the newly generated Honour, built the first timber castle of Tickhill and turned it into the military and administrative centre of the Honour (Creighton 2002, 107).
In the few instances in which mention is made of Tickhill Castle in eighteenth-century domestic tours and travelogues – for instance in the expanded 1742 edition of Defoe’s Tour thro’ the Whole Island of Great Britain – the reader is usually given a lightly paraphrased version of Camden’s account (Defoe 1742, III.99). Perhaps the very scarcity of available print sources on Tickhill’s history made it seem all the more worthwhile to the SAL to fund a modern reproduction of the sixteenth-century drawing, which measures 40,5 x 58,5 cm and is now held by the National Archives (TNA MPC 1/96). They might also have been struck by the fact that the original drawing is one of only two drawings from the original cache to provide a visual record of the mills and milldams which Ambrose Cave examined as part of his survey of the duchy castles and properties in 1561 (Hoyle 1992, 42-43). Of the six prints of the series included in volume 1 of Vetusta Monumenta, this plate stands out for its attention to the agricultural resources of Tickhill and its environs. Tickhill was known for the quality of its soil. John Leland, who passed through Tickhill just a few decades before the sixteenth-century drawing was made, described the “grounde […] fruteful of corne” (Leland 1907, I.35).
Following the design of the original drawing, Vertue’s print shows several buildings inside the castle’s bailey, including the twelfth-century chapel dedicated to St Nicholas founded by Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry II’s queen. As he also did on the plate of Lancaster Castle (Plate 1.41), Vertue eradicated the densely packed rows of very small and uniform houses which cover two hills in the foreground of the original drawing and which seem to have been intended to signify the proximity of the town of Tickhill rather than to represent specific historical buildings. The print reproduces two churches, surrounded by neighbouring buildings, which are also part of the original drawing. The church with the high steeple visible on a hill in the background resembles Laughton-en-le-Morthen’s famous All Saints’ church, which could be seen from the motte of the castle though not from the location from which the perspective view was taken (Grainge 1855, 8). The other church to the right of the castle probably depicts St Mary’s, the parish church of Tickhill. The location is incorrect, but the sixteenth-century draughtsman took similar liberties when he produced the other drawings, and there was no other church or abbey in the direct vicinity of the castle in the sixteenth century. The history of St Mary’s is closely linked to the castle’s history: it was rebuilt in stone in the twelfth century at roughly the same period when the first timber castle of Tickhill was fortified and rebuilt in stone (Standish 1905, 19-20).
Vertue’s approach to his source material is fairly consistent across the set of plates depicting duchy castles: in this print, as in the others, he included all major buildings shown in the original but increased the symmetry of the composition by adding a partly cloudy sky. Using fine gradations of shading allowed Vertue to add considerable depth and dimension to the castles, which are primarily presented in outline in the sixteenth-century drawings with only occasional use of light shading. The range of grey tonalities which Vertue achieved in the gives rich texture to the various parts of the castles and to the surrounding landscape. However, Vertue rarely made attempts to correct the perspectival oddities and scale issues of the original drawings. The plate of Tickhill castle – like the other plates that were part of the duchy castle series – replicates the faulty perspective of the original, as can be seen, for instance, in the implausible angle at which the stone bridge spanning the moat juts out. Another case in point is the oversized watermill to the left of the castle: although positioned further in the distance, this windmill is considerably bigger than the watermill closer to the foreground to the right of the castle; it also dwarfs the group of houses half hidden behind the motte inside the castle’s walls. The sixteenth-century artist’s brief was to provide a visual inventory of duchy properties. “Defects” in perspective and scale were probably at times occasioned by haste and lack of skill, but they also speak to the artist’s priorities: illustrating the state of repair of the famous stone bridge, built under Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, clearly trumped aesthetic concerns; and the size of the watermill might well have reflected the relative importance and yield of this particular mill.
The minute books of the SAL do not offer any clues to Vertue’s and the other society members’ understanding of the original drawings. However, it seems likely that two factors contributed to Vertue’s decision to adopt the perspective found in the originals in his engravings. First, while the perspective in which the duchy castles are drawn is obviously faulty, introducing changes and corrections would have required information about the architectural design and layout of the castles that was no longer available in the early eighteen century, because most of the duchy castles had been demolished after the Civil War. (Tellingly, Vertue did introduce an error when he attempted to correct and enhance the sixteenth-century artist’s rendition of Lancaster castle’s Norman keep, discussed in the commentary to Plate 1.41.) Even if Vertue had been able to travel north and survey the ruins – which he did not do – he would have found it impossible to figure out many architectural details from the ruins that remained. The scarcity of other visual sources on the former appearance of many of these castles thus may well have contributed to the Society’s desire to preserve the entirety of the archaeological information provided by the surviving drawings, even if this information was often presented in a manner that violated the rules of perspective. Second, Vertue’s handling of perspective and scale also intriguingly suggests that the members of the SAL might have understood these fairly unsophisticated Elizabethan drawings, produced by an unknown artist, not just as neutral medium providing information about the duchy castles but as artefacts in their own right. Vertue was skilled at engraving paintings; in fact, one of the earliest plates he produced for the SAL was a print based on a drawing of a late fourteenth-century portrait of Richard II (Plate IV). For Vertue, awareness of shifting aesthetic conventions and gradual changes in the manner in which artists paid attention to perspective was not merely a matter of abstract knowledge but part of his practice as engraver and antiquary. His approach to the duchy castle series indicates that the members of the SAL might have found it worthwhile to preserve the perspectival strangeness characteristic of visual representations from the Elizabethan period, even as they seem to have welcomed Vertue’s addition of picturesque details and staffage which increase the plates’ perceived resemblance to early eighteenth-century prints of ruins and picturesque scenery.
Vertue’s removal of the townscape that fills the bottom margin of the Elizabethan drawing adds to the idyllic rural character of this view of Tickhill Castle and its three mills. In analogous fashion to his insertion of bucolic features into Plate XLIV showing Knaresborough Castle, Vertue also added features that heighten the picturesque character of the environs of Tickhill Castle. He replaced the tightly packed rows of houses that cover the two hills in the foreground in the original drawing with pastures and a gently winding footpath. Two cows rest on the grass, lazily guarded by a trio of cowherds, while a rider is leading two horses past the castle. Vertue positioned two traveling, modern-day antiquaries in the bottom right corner of the plate. These men serve as proxy figures for the viewer: they turn their backs to us in order to gaze at the castle and the fertile working landscape that surrounds it. Just like the antiquaries in the engraving, a number of members of the SAL toured parts of the country on horseback during the summer months to survey antiquities: Vertue’s immediate audience must therefore have had little difficulty in inserting themselves into this picture. Indeed, the text given on the plate does nothing to dispel the fantasy that modern-day antiquaries might still be able to explore firsthand Tickhill Castle: no information is given regarding the ruined state of the castle, and neither does the text alert the viewer to the fact that the engraving is based on a sixteenth-century drawing. The plates of the duchy castle series are inconsistent in the manner in which they refer to their sources: the texts given on the first two plates finished by Vertue, showing Melbourne Castle (Plate XL) and Tutbury Castle (Plate XXXIX), state that the engravings are based on drawings from the reign of Elizabeth I; the plate of Knaresborough Castle merely states that the print is based on an “old draught” (Plate XLIV); and the plates of Pontefract Castle (Plate XLII) and Tickhill Castle include no information about the sources used by Vertue. Viewers who encountered these plates as a sequence in the context of Vetusta Monumenta could easily deduce that Vertue’s view of Tickhill Castle, too, was based on a sixteenth-century drawing. However, the plates were first distributed individually, and someone who came across a single print of Tickhill Castle in the 1730s with no background knowledge about the genesis of the plate series might have experienced an odd sense of temporal incongruity: after all, the plate merges an Elizabethan approach to perspective and scale with a modern-day penchant for the picturesque and inserts two contemporary antiquaries who admire a castle that no longer exists.
Vertue’s entire duchy castles series restored to the present important medieval castles, many of which had long been demolished and had largely vanished from the landscape they had once dominated. Much like their seventeenth-century colleagues, mid-eighteenth-century antiquaries understood the restoration of British antiquities as a project that required the action of pen, paper, and print, rather than the physical conservation or rebuilding of antiquities. Long before late-eighteenth-century antiquaries and architects began to clash over the respective virtues of physically restoring or “improving” historical buildings, this generation of antiquaries was mostly content with translating crumbling medieval ruins and disintegrating Roman pavements into detailed drawings, maps, and dissertations. The duchy castle series as a whole – and Vertue’s print of Tickhill Castle in particular – thus offer a lively demonstration of one of the key aims that the SAL pursued with Vetusta Monumenta: these plates pay testament to the resurrective powers of visual representation and print technologies. Some of the buildings and objects represented in Vetusta Monumenta were damaged further, or lost entirely, in the decades and centuries following its publication. In the case of the duchy castles, however, this moment of physical destruction was long past: instead of anticipating the demolition of these imposing medieval castles, the members of the SAL could insert themselves into the antiquarian dreamscape of Vertue’s multitemporal engravings and see these castles rise again in paper form.
Works CitedBuck, Samuel. 1774  “The West View of Roche-Abbey, near Tickhill in Yorkshire” in Buck’s Antiquities. Vol. 1. London: Sayer.
Camden, William. 1722. Britannia, or A Chorographical Description of Great Britain and Ireland … Revised, digested, and published, with large additions, by Edmund Gibson. 2 vols. London.
Creighton, O.H. 2002. Castles and Landscape: Power, Community and Fortification in Medieval England. London: Equinox.
Defoe, Daniel. 1742. A Tour thro’ the Whole Island of Great Britain. 3drd edn. 4 vols. London: printed for J. Osborn et al.
Grainge, William. 1855. The Castles and Abbeys of Yorkshire. York: Sampson.
Hey, David. 2003. Medieval South Yorkshire. Ashbourne: Landmark.
Hoyle, R.W. 1992. “Introduction: Aspects of the Crown’s Estate, c. 1558-1640,” in The Estates of the English Crown, 1558-1640. Ed. R.W. Hoyle. 1-57. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Leland, John. 1907. The Itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-43. Ed. Lucy Toulmin Smith. 5 vols. London: George Bell.
Society of Antiquaries of London. 1718- Minutes of the Society’s Proceedings.
Standish, John. 1906. “Rev. J. Standish’s Paper” [The History of St. Mary’s, Tickhill], in Transactions of the Thoroton Society, Vol. IX. Ed. John Standish and George Fellows. 19-27. Nottingham: Thoroton Press.
“Tykehill”: Perspective View of Tickhill Castle. 1561. The National Archives, Kew. MPC 1/96.
Suggestions for Further Reading:
Creighton, O.H. 2002. Castles and Landscape: Power, Community and Fortification in Medieval England. London: Equinox.
Grainge, William. 1855. The Castles and Abbeys of Yorkshire. York: Sampson.
Hey, David. 2003. Medieval South Yorkshire. Ashbourne: Landmark.