For full functionality of this site it is necessary to enable JavaScript. Here are the instructions how to enable JavaScript in your web browser.
Works James Moore and Thomas Girtin

St Peter's Church, Bexhill: The West Tower

(?) 1795

Primary Image: TG0326: James Moore (1762–99) and Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), St Peter's Church, Bexhill: The West Tower, (?) 1795, graphite on wove paper, 17.7 × 22.5 cm, 7 × 8 ⅞ in. Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford (WA1916.20.24).

Photo courtesy of Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford (All Rights Reserved)

James Moore (1762-1799) and Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • St Peter's Church, Bexhill: The West Tower
(?) 1795
Medium and Support
Graphite on wove paper
17.7 × 22.5 cm, 7 × 8 ⅞ in

'Bexhil Ch. Augt 21st. 95' lower left, by James Moore

Object Type
Collaborations; Outline Drawing
Subject Terms
Gothic Architecture: Parish Church; Sussex View

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001 and 2016


James Moore (1762–99); his widow, Mary Moore (née Howett) (d.1835); bequeathed to Anne Miller (1802–90); bequeathed to Edward Mansel Miller (1829–1912); bequeathed to Helen Louisa Miller (1842–1915); bought and presented to the Museum anonymously, 1916


Brown, 1982, p.471, no.1412 as 'Bexhil Ch. Augt 21st. 95' by James Moore

About this Work

This pencil drawing by Girtin’s first significant patron, the antiquarian and amateur artist James Moore (1762–99), was made on the third and final tour he undertook to record the medieval castles and churches of Sussex, as it is inscribed ‘Augt 21, 95’. It is contained in an album assembled from fifty-three drawings that were acquired by the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, from Moore’s descendants after 1912. They were catalogued by David Brown as being by Moore himself, but Brown added a note to one of the drawings, a view of St Clement’s Church, Hastings (TG0304), suggesting that Girtin may also have ‘taken a hand’ in the drawing (Brown, 1982, p.471). I think it is possible to go a step further and propose that, given almost half of the drawings in the album are significantly stronger than the sketches used for the other watercolours of St Peter’s Church (see source images TG0175 and TG0255), the professional artist had a ‘hand’ in many more of his patron’s outlines. In this case, such is the contrast in quality, particularly in the architectural details, that it is clear that the drawing has been corrected and enhanced by a superior artist working over Moore’s sketch with a sharper and more richly toned piece of graphite. The drawing is typical of the way in which Moore’s tentative outlines have been firmed up, his faulty perspective corrected and an exuberant level of decorative detail added. The manner in which the artist varies the pressure applied to the graphite to introduce subtle variation in tones, even within the same line, is characteristic of Girtin’s fine draughtsmanship, and it was surely he who elaborated Moore’s view of the eleventh-century west tower, creating a monumental image that was well beyond the amateur’s capabilities. Even Girtin, however, was not able to resolve the perspective of the aisle to the right, which falls away at an alarming angle, something that is perhaps not surprising given that, contrary to the opinions of earlier writers, Girtin almost certainly did not accompany his patron to Sussex in 1795 (Girtin and Loshak, 1954, p.28). All of his views of the county were made after his patron’s sketches and, as here, Girtin presumably worked over many of these on the amateur’s return to London.

The parish church at Bexhill is located inland, away from the seaside development that later in the nineteenth century transformed the village into a coastal resort. Later restoration work removed features such as the dormer windows in the south aisle, giving Bexhill church a smoother, less idiosyncratic profile. Moore’s sketch, with its additions by Girtin, consequently provides valuable evidence of the church’s appearance in the period before improvers rationalised its structure.

(?) 1795

St Clement’s Church, with Hastings in the Distance


1793 - 1794

St Peter’s Church, Bexhill, from the East


1793 - 1794

St Peter’s Church, Bexhill, from the South East


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

Revisions & Feedback

The website will be updated from time to time and, when changes are made, a PDF of the previous version of each page will be archived here for consultation and citation.

Please help us to improve this catalogue

If you have information, a correction or any other suggestions to improve this catalogue, please contact us.