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Works Thomas Girtin

A Reconstruction of Moreton Corbet Castle, from the West


Primary Image: TG1556: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), A Reconstruction of Moreton Corbet Castle, from the West, 1800, graphite and watercolour on laid paper, 32.9 × 52.5 cm, 13 × 20 ⅝ in. Private Collection.

Photo courtesy of Sotheby's (All Rights Reserved)

Print after: William Pearson (1772-1849), after Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), etching, 'Moreton Corbet Castle' for Antiquities of Shropshire, pl.20, 1807, 12.5 × 18.4 cm, 4 ¹⁵⁄₁₆ × 7 ¼ ins. British Library, London (186.a.10).

Photo courtesy of The British Library Board (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • A Reconstruction of Moreton Corbet Castle, from the West
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on laid paper
32.9 × 52.5 cm, 13 × 20 ⅝ in

‘Girtin 1800’ lower centre, by Thomas Girtin

Object Type
Commissioned from Thomas Girtin; Studio Watercolour
Subject Terms
Country House View; Shropshire View

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
364 as 'Moreton Corbet Castle, Shropshire'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2011


Sir Andrew Corbet, 1st Baronet (1766–1835); then by descent to Lady Lesbia Rachel Lambe (née Corbet) (1905–90); then by descent; Sotheby's, 7 July 2011, lot 320 as 'North View of Moreton Corbet Castle, Shropshire', £11,250; Julia Korner Fine Art


Tonkin, 1983, p.32

About this Work

Moreton Corbet Castle, from the North

The second of two imaginary views of Moreton Corbet Castle in Shropshire that Girtin produced for the owner Sir Andrew Corbet (1766–1835) in 1800 (the other being TG1555) shows a view from the west, with the gatehouse to the left and the truncated great tower to the right. In the centre is the inner facade of the Elizabethan wing, which, in its imaginatively reconstructed form, is the focus of Girtin’s other watercolour. This watercolour was reproduced as an etching in 1807 by William Pearson (1772–1849) for his Select Views of the Antiquities of Shropshire (see the print after, above), where the text that accompanies the image records that it was made ‘from a fine drawing by that much esteemed artist, GIRTIN’ (Pearson, 1807). Significantly, too, it thanked Sir Andrew, who had made it possible to ‘give a view of this building in a more perfect state’. This means that although, as Pearson records, ‘the roof is entirely gone’, Girtin reconstructed the buildings to the west to an even greater extent than was the case with the view of the Elizabethan wing. A drawing by Edward Blore (1787–1879), taken from roughly the same direction and dating to 1800 (see figure 1), indicates the degree to which Girtin altered the details of the ruins to show the ‘building in a more perfect state’, as Pearson put it. The twelfth-century gatehouse, left in a ruined state after the Civil War, has been completely transformed and, together with the careful realignment and restoration of the damaged Elizabethan east wing, the result resembles more a homely and modest Jacobean manor house than an ancient ruin. 

There is no question that Girtin ever visited Moreton Corbet himself, and it seems that, as with the view of the south wing, Sir Andrew provided him with the requisite material to create his splendid confection, presumably in the form of architectural drawings. Indeed, Girtin’s commission appears to have been the final stage in a plan by the owner of Moreton Corbet to restore the ruined and abandoned family seat to its former Elizabethan splendour. In 1796, Sir Andrew employed a local architect and builder, John Hiram Haycock (1759–1830), to prepare plans to incorporate the Elizabethan wing into a new structure, only to abandon the project in 1800 in favour of remodelling the nearby Acton Reynard Hall as his home (Harwood, 2006, pp.41–45). Corbet’s commission was therefore in effect to complete on paper what the patron had failed to do on the ground, and this watercolour, like its pair, is arguably more about what might have been than about what once was.


A Reconstruction of the Elizabethan Wing of Moreton Corbet Castle


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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