Colliss Sketchbook - Clarendon Street, Leamington Spa

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Date:10th of August 1867


William Colliss

Our Cousin's House at Leamington, 30 Clarendon Street - Saturday August 10th 1867

This drawing is from a portfolio containing 41 pages of sketches and watercolour paintings. It was bought by Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum at an auction held in Stratford-on-Avon on 28 February 2008.

The drawings were made by Mr William Colliss, an amateur artist, when he was staying in Royal Leamington Spa during a holiday in August 1867. Made at a time before photography was widely accessible, they offer a rare personal record of excursions in mid-Victorian Warwickshire.

A preface to the portfolio by Colliss shows that he and his wife stayed with her cousin at 30 Clarendon Street, Leamington. Colliss explains that the pictures were ‘original drawings done on the spot’ in pencil and then gone over in ink. The drawings include well established sights such as Warwick Castle, Kenilworth Castle, Guy’s Cliffe and Stratford-on-Avon. There are also a number showing villages such as Lillington, Milverton, Offchurch, Radford Semele and Whitnash.

Colliss does not say how he got to these places but many are within an hour’s walking distance of Leamington. The exceptions may have been his trips to Stratford-on-Avon and Kenilworth, both recently connected to Leamington by railway and accessible by coach.

The census records from 1861 and 1871 suggest that at the time of his holiday Colliss, although born in Bognor, Sussex, was living in Lambeth and working as a ‘Commercial Clerk to East India Agents’. He died in January 1926 at Freshwater, Isle of Wight.

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Donor ref:LEAMG : A1123.2008.5 (64/27834)

Source: Leamington Spa Art Gallery and Museum

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