Stonyhurst Hall 1799

Watercolour by JMW Turner

To mark the birthday of the famous 19th century watercolourist, Joseph Turner, we are sharing this beautiful small watercolour  which he painted early in his career as an artist. It shows Stonyhurst a few years after the College had moved here from Liege. The house had been vacated by the Shireburn family following the death of Maria Shireburn some forty years previously, and had been largely closed up when it passed to the Weld family. Thomas Weld, of course, donated the house to the Jesuits to provide a permanent home for the College. The house, as planned by Sir Richard Shirebuin the late 16th century, and made grander by Sir Nicholas Shireburn in the late 17th century, was left unfinished as the Shireburn family was heavily taxed for their Catholicism and for their support of Charles I during the Civil War. Turner’s watercolour shows the clutter of medieval buildings at the back of the Great Hall (now the Top Ref), and some of Sir Nicholas’s  lead statues  on the front lawn. Interestingly it shows the stone lions in their original position; they were moved around twenty years later, and are now in the Do Room, but the name of the Lions for the front gates has stuck.