Category Archives: England
The sun is shining ,the warmth of the Spring has suddenly brought on the Bluebells in the woods in Kent.
Some years the cow parsley masks the Bluebells but not this year, this is a great year for them.
Recently we visited a friend’s beautiful garden near Hawkhurst in Kent and by the pond in their garden was a lovely wood full of bluebells
i couldn’t resist having a go a painting them and here is the result. Bluebells have unique colours ranging from Blue to Violet which is quite a challenge, but no matter the accuracy the memory will remain of that beautiful scene.
As many of you know we also live to play golf and we are lucky that our golf course has woods with bluebells too.
So here is another painting from a year or two back with a scene on the course with bluebells in the woods.
If you do have a chance to get out into the countryside to see the bluebells then do try to go at this time, if not I hope you will enjoy my attempts to capture their beauty.
NB Some other watercolours can be seen on my shop sites at
Each year we go on a long weekend trip with some very good friends of long standing. Previously we have been to Ypres, Normandy and Amsterdam and in every location we have had really great weekends.
This year our trip was to York, and we all had a really good time in this very interesting City.
It coincided with some Birthday celebrations for me, a rather big number too!, which added to our fun there. (Thanks friends for the card presents and good wishes!)
It was great to celebrate with such good friends, but in amongst the sightseeing, eating , and drinking I have managed to produce 5 sketch book watercolours which I hope you will enjoy.
York is steeped in history and the City centre is dominated by the wonderful York Minster Cathedral. Nearly are little streets, in an area called The Shambles with excellent restaurants and cafes and shops too.
We visited the very good Jorvik centre with it “time traveller ride” back to the Viking settlement in York, and also the York Castle Museum which contains a reproduction of a street and houses and shops of the Victorian era and many other exhibits too.
We enjoyed the food tin York too and went to two very good restaurants which I have no hesitation in recommending. “Rustique” was outstanding as was “Little Italy”. The staff in both restaurants made our party of 8 very welcome indeed.
We stayed at The Grange Hotel and that was very good too.
So here are those small watercolours produced in between visits and meals over the weekend.
If you haven’t been to York then do so as it has so many great things to offer a visitor, many of which we didn’t manage to fit in on this trip, so we have many reasons to return.
If you do know York then I hope these watercolours will be a good reminder of this fascinating City.
I hope you have enjoyed these quick sketches of great weekend in York.
Hastings in Sussex is a town steeped in history and a delightful place to visit.
The Fishing Industry was once a major activity in the Town and fishing boats still operate from there, and are still launched from the beach.
One historical feature of Hastings are the “Net Shops”, tall wooden buildings, now enjoying “Listed Status” on the Stade at Hastings.
To learn more about them try this web site ( hastingschronicles.net )which has lots of very interesting details about them, and photos too.
This first quick, 15 minute, sketch shows the Net Stores today with a typical Hastings fishing boat located next to them.
In the 1960’s and before the number of Fishing boats at Hastings was large and although there are a lot of boats there today they are fewer than once there were.
I particularly like the older style of boat which is ideal for my sort of watercolour. They had a particular hull design adapted to being launched from the beach. This painting is taken from a 1960’s photo and shows two fishing boats pulled up on the shingle beach from which they are launched.
RX73 was constructed in 1958 in Newhaven, named the ‘Young Flying Fish’ and is now retired as is RX77 named ‘Andina’ was constructed in Newhaven in 1957. Thanks to GH Clarke for this information, and also to Richard.O.Singleton for the original photograph upon which my watercolour is based.
Do visit Hastings, there is so much to see and do there.
About an hour from us here in Kent is the lovely old Town of Rye, which is in East Sussex.
Several hundred years ago it was nearer the sea but today it is a few miles inland with river access to the English Channel.
We love to walk round Rye’s quaint streets and buildings and enjoy afternoon tea or lunch there.
Thus it is no surprise that I seem to have painted quite a few watercolours of the Town and the area, some of which I have sold to other folk who also love the town of Rye.
So here are some of my watercolours for you to look at. If you haven’t visited Rye then do so in the future but if like us it is a place that you too enjoy then I hope these paintings will have good memories for you.
The skyline of Rye on it’s small hill fascinates me and the views, from a few different vantage points have been the subject of quite a few paintings.
Here are some.
The Town was once surrounded by a wall and the main entrance to the Town goes through the Landgate.
Here are two painting of that scene, one with some chap like me painting, and another on a snowy day. Unless you are up very early the scene today is spoilt by parked cars, but somehow I managed not to include them!
Inside the oldest part of Rye you will find Mermaid Street with the very old Mermaid Inn. Even if you are not staying there or eating at it do go in and look around. It is quite amazing and the sign outside says “Rebuilt in 1407”. This Inn, once a smugglers haunt is show in this next painting.
Walk down Mermaid street on the old cobbles and read the names of the houses, they too are very intesting.
Rye has an old Castle ,Ypres Tower, with a museum, and a fine Norman Church of St Mary’s. The keen visitor can go to the top of the Church Tower for fine views of the Town and the countryside.
Next to the Church is The Old Vicarage, a lovely old building next to the fascinating Graveyard. Around you are many old and delightful houses and nearby is Lamb house that Henry James once owned, and which can be visited on some days.
Here is The Old Vicarage
There is so much to see you may never leave, but if you do then drive out of the town towards Wichelsea which is another wonderful old Town to visit. On the way you can , if you feel energetic enough, walk to Camber Castle which is nowadays isolated in the fields near Rye. Built in the time of Henry VIII its ruins are interesting and afford more views back towards Rye, as seen in this painting.
The whole area of East Sussex is very interesting with big sandy beaches at Camber Sands and the Military Canal leading to Hythe, and awealth of history round every corner. I hope you will enjoy these paintings.
It is well know fact that we English people do love our gardens. Maybe its our generally pleasant, moderate climate, or just our love of things in an ordered way, but gardening is a big thing in the UK.
The Cottage border is just one of the things gardeners love to plant and we are lucky in the South East of England to have some very fine gardens to visit and enjoy. They provide the stimulus to improve our own gardens too, although their beauty is a bit beyond most home gardens.
Two amongst the very best in the South East of England are Great Dixter in E.ast Sussex and Sissinghurst in Kent.
Both can be visited throughout the year but in Summer they are really magnificent with wonderful planting and colours.
In each case there is also fine house to look around too but it is the Cottage Borders that are the really great thing about these gardens.
This post has only 2 paintings, one of Sissinghurst painted a couple of years ago and a new painting of Great Dixter.
I do hope you will like them and if you have the chance to visit either then do so!
Have a look at my site on http://www.artfinder.com/brianswatercolours too!
Last week we had the pleasure of a visit from some very good friends from the USA. It was an opportunity to explore some places in the South East of England that they hadn’t visited before.
One of these was Scotney Castle, today a National Trust property quite near to us in the heart of Kent.
It has a fine Victorian house which itself it well worth visiting as it was lived in by the former owner until 2006 and has all the furnishings and items as it was at that time, a time capsule of two hundred years worth of the family’s history.
However the other jewel of Scotney Castle is the ruined castle situated on a small island in the middle of the lake at the heart of the estate. In spring the walk to the Castle and the surrounding area is bursting with Azaleas and Rhododendron bushes of all colours and fine perennial plants and trees.
It is painter’s paradise and has been the subject of my watercolours before.
This visit revealed some new aspects to me and so this watercolour shows both the Castle by the lake and the Victorian House on the hill above.
The second painting from last year shows another aspect of the Castle in spring time.
If you are in Kent do visit Scotney, it is a truly beautiful place.
I hope you enjoy this short post.
By way of a diversion I thought I might introduce you to an idea I had some years ago which can add some extra interest to the documenting of your Family History project.
Researching the historical background of your family is fascinating but can produce a lot of data and alas that data, whilst interesting to the researcher, does not make interesting reading for the younger members of your family who may (??) one day, show some interest in all that research. I guess it is not till we all advance in years that the history of our families becomes a bit more interesting anyway!
Just leaving the succeeding generations all the data is unlikely to be a successful strategy so producing some form of booklet or document is most likely to be a more useful hand me down for the future. Paper is not much in fashion these days but a paper book or document, maybe also produced as an eBook as well, is still very likely to stand the test of time.
Even for bloggers like us paper is a good solution for long term storage of all that hard work documenting the past few hundred years.
The heart of your project will probably be the Family Tree but adding narrative to each of the families covered by your research will add some insight of the people in the Tree and their way of life.
I decided that to bring the project even more to life I would include as many photos of the people as I could find but that won’t take you back before the mid or late 1800’s. So to illustrate the histories of the families I decided to add some watercolours of the places they came from, sometimes as they might have been at the time, or just places that they liked to visit. Paintings of the Churches they were married in seemed an obvious choice and where possible the houses they once lived in. Even if these have long been demolished you can sometimes find data to reconstruct the scene, at least to give some context to the narrative. If your narrative can give some insight as to how they lived in years gone by this can be very interesting too.
You will be pleased to know I am not going to bore you with my research data, but here are a few paintings that I have used to illustrate the Family History Book of the 6 major families that it covers.
First of all a couple of Churches painted as near as possible to the way they looked at the time. An earlier generation of my family were married in Minster Abbey on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent during the exceptionally cold winter of 1911. This was the year I believe that Niagara Falls froze over too!
In the early 19th Cenury other family members were married in The Churches of Detling (then spelt
Debtling) in Kent and at Boxley Church, also in Kent
In the late 19th century some of my ancestors lived in the middle house below West Malling in Kent. Here I have tried to reconstruct the scene in 1891. He was the local Weights and Measures Inspector, an inserting job, which invloved testing the beer in the local breweries almost every day!
The earliest record that I have so far managed to find is of a wedding in Lenham Church in 1628. I don’t think they had Linseed growing in the fields then but my painting tries to show it anyway!
Lastly some branches of my family and my wife’s family hail from Northern Ireland.
So here is the Church of St Anne in Belfast where a marriage took place in 1869. The Church was demolished in the 1890’s and the fine (and still standing) St Anne’s Cathedral was built on the site.
And lastly we had, and have, close associations with the whole beautiful Antrim Coast in Northern Ireland. This spectacular coastal route has featured in a number of my previous posts. So here is a watercolour of Carrickfergus, the beginning of the Causeway Coastal route and a town with many associations with our families.
I hope you have enjoyed this diversion. Back to more recent travels soon!
Have look at my new page on Oast Houses in Kent.
Regular readers of this blog will know how much we love the south of France, and I seem to post about that area quite a bit.
But this week driving around our native Kent I was reminded how beautiful the countryside is right here , just on our doorstep.
We are lucky to live in this lovely part of the UK with it’s green fields, Oast houses, Castles and Gardens.
With the weather being cold I have been painting some local scenes from photos and looking back at some paintings from the past year or two and so I thought it was about time I shared a little bit of Kent with you all.
Quite nearby we have several fine National Trust properties. Two in particular, Sissinghurst Castle and gardens, and Scotney Castle have exceptional gardens. Each has unique features but they fit in so well to the lovely countryside around them.
Kent has been known as the Garden of England since Tudor times I believe, and it remains a County that produces a lot of soft fruit, apples, pears, cherries and vegetables. The Spring blossom is spectacular but that is for another day.
These watercolours try to capture a little of the beauty of the area. Scotney with its collections of Azaleas, and Sissinghust famous for it’s gardens and colour.
I hope you like these watercolours and enjoy this quick “visit” to Kent.
Happy travelling and painting!
This winter it seemed as if the rain would never stop, then late last week and since the weather in the South of England has really improved and the sun has been shining.
It inspired me to get out and go to the Weald of Kent and there, near Horsmonden Church your will find this Springtime scene. I hope you like my interpretation of it!
The Church dedicated to St Margaret is about 2 miles from the Village centre. This is attributed to the centre of the village moving in the 17th Century to where a foundry had been established by John Browne. It was a large employer and the village thus migrated to be nearer the foundry. The foundry closed in 1685, but the village has remained at the Heath.
The term Weald is an old English word for Forest as this area was once heavily forested, even today there are many fine woods and copses across the area.
Anyway I hope wherever you are the weather is fine, we certainly hope it stays fine here and everywhere will get a chance to recover from all that winter rain.
Enjoy your travels