Rev Williams’ watercolours
Rev Edward Williams painted a lovely series of watercolours, which are invaluable to anyone studying local church history. The images have been on our online catalogue for a little while but if you’ve not seen them before they are well worth exploring.
The watercolours were purchased at auction by Sir Offley Wakeman, who presented them to Shrewsbury Free Library in 1897 and they are now cared for by Shropshire Archives. Volunteer Hugh Battersby has catalogued the watercolours individually and also added detail about architectural changes made since the painting. For example, St Mary’s in Market Drayton (pictured above) still retains the tower but the rest was rebuilt by Carpenter and Ingelow, 1881-84,
Rev Williams began the watercolours of Shropshire Churches in 1785, which Hugh believes helped him recover from depression. They were finished, effectively, in 1790, though updated until 1829. Hugh wrote a very informative article in a recent edition of the Salopian Recorder and suggests:
“[Williams’] modus operandi seems to have been to travel to an area and paint several churches, and occasional other buildings, that took his fancy, such as abbeys and the leaning tower of Bridgnorth. He would then go home and complete and date his artwork. Few of his paintings are fully finished, though there are occasionally figures and a good number of pipe-cleaner trees. His aim was clearly to provide an accurate record rather than anything for artistic display.”
Many of the watercolours show the smaller barn-type chapels dotted thought Shropshire. These had probably seen few changes since Saxon times.
You can read Hugh’s full article at https://friendsofshropshirearchives.files.wordpress.com/2020/04/salopan-recorder-no-91.pdf
All of the watercolours are now available on line via the Shropshire Archives website, if you search for “Edward Williams Watercolours” or follow the link to the watercolours.