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Historic unpublished book of Isle of Man paintings from 1887 goes on sale


The Antiquities of The Isle of Man by Hamlet Watling

An unpublished album containing original paintings of the Isle of Man in 1887 by a Suffolk schoolmaster with a passion for recording the past has been listed for sale on AbeBooks.co.uk.

Hamlet Watling (1818-1908) devoted his spare time to either writing about history, or sketching and painting ancient sites and monuments.

The album is titled ‘The Antiquities of The Isle of Man’, and contains 47 full page paintings of scenes and buildings on the island. There is an inscription on the first page that reads, “This book was given to George Abbott by his old Friend Hamlet Watling in 1898”. The paintings have been signed “H. Watling”.

The book offers a perspective of how the Isle of Man looked in the second half of the reign of Queen Victoria. The paintings include Peel Castle, of Lord Bishop of Sodor’s tomb, Corrin’s Tower, Manx runestones at Kirk Braddan, Castle Rushen, and Glen Maye’s waterfall. He also painted a Manx cat, a cottage, celtic crosses, various churches (which were Watling’s passion) and other eye-catching landscapes.

All the paintings are captioned, some with lengthy descriptions.

Sadly, Hamlet Watling is not well remembered these days as much of this work went unpublished. According to the website Suffolk Painters:

His drawings were mostly accompanied by profuse notes and his architectural drawings were very accurate being purchased by the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Ipswich Museum and others. In his retirement he spent most of his time making copies of his drawings and records for sale. At one time he had accumulated a huge amount of material for which the Ipswich Museum failed to come to terms with him for its purchase and a few years before his death he disposed of much material to various purchasers.

The album is priced £3,500 and offered for sale by a dealer called Andrew Cox in Shropshire.

See the album

Peel Castle with Hamlet Watling’s inscription across the top

Cathedral ruins captured during a clear, fine day

Recording ruins appealed greatly to Hamlet Watling

Celtic crosses and runestones

A beach view

The southwest view of St. Trinian’s Church

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