Town and Country Wimbledon

4 February - 3 June 2012

Some 55 historic watercolours of Wimbledon, painted over two centuries between 1780 and 1985, are now on display in the first ever exhibition at the brand new Village Hall Trust Gallery. This is the first opportunity to see many of the works collected by the Museum of Wimbledon since its foundation 96 years ago in 1916. The paintings have been acquired through donations, bequests and works by local artists.

The water-colours depict Wimbledon’s rural and urban heritage through works by local painters over 200 years. The earliest work, by John Melchior Barralet, depicts St Mary’s Church c1780. It is the collection’s only contemporary drawing of the medieval church and was made shortly before its rebuilding in 1788. A tithe barn shown was dismantled in the 1860s to allow for an extension to the churchyard.

Other very early works include Maria Marryat’s The Salon at Wimbledon House, Parkside, c.1815. and John Chessell Buckler’s monochrome of Eagle House in 1827. Wimbledon House Parkside, which had one of the region’s finest gardens stretching over 100 acres, was demolished at the start of the 20th century but  Eagle House, still standing in the High Street, is Wimbledon’s second oldest building, dating back to 1613.

By contrast, other works in the exhibition include a rural Copse Hill as recently as 1931, Croft’s Timber Yard at West Place in 1910, and scenes from the annual National Rifle Association camp on the Common in the 1870s.

The new gallery provides an extension to the museum itself and entry to this exhibition is via the museum on weekend afternoons.