Bere Regis Village Website

Historical Paintings & Drawings of the Village

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This fine view is dated 1768, and is by the London-born topographical painter William Tomkins.

Tomkins also painted occasional animal pictures and still-lives, but he is best known for being one of the first generation of English painters of the picturesque view. His style is a development of the earlier "bird's eye" view tradition of landscape painting, and uses a lower point of view where the emphasis is on strict topographical accuracy.

His paintings are therefore of the utmost historical interest, and are seldom sullied by the "romanticisation" of the succeeding generation of English landscape painters who placed considerations of composition ahead of literal accuracy.

Tomkins was an Associate of the Royal Academy of Arts in London, but seems to have been itinerant throughout the whole British Isles.

Paintings by him from places as far apart as Cornwall and the Highlands of Scotland were abundantly exhibited at the Royal Academy and the Society of Artists, though he seems to have had a penchant for painting in the West Country. Numerous views of the area are known, including a view of Plympton (RA 1780) and a set of four views of Tapeley Park, all of which were with Lane Fine Art in the last five years.

He seems to have been patronised by the highest levels of local society, and is recorded working for Lord Clifford (1772) Viscount Lisburne (1773) Joseph Parker at Saltram (1772, now National Trust), Sir Charles Kyme Tynte (1771) and Henry Luttrell at Dunster (1773) and many other major landowners.

He emerges as one of the most favoured painters of landscapes and Gentlemen's Seats of the 18th century.

Chamberlain's Mill was an early water driven mill of a type which existed in many English villages well into the nineteenth century, when they were gradually replaced by industrialised steam driven engines for grinding corn. It was located just outside the picturesque village of Bere Regis.

A few working examples still exist, for instance, one at Mapledurham belonging to the Eyston family. The Chamberlain family, owners of this mill, were ancestors of the Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain.

This Drawing is Copyright of Dorset County Museum. The Museum is owned and managed by the Dorset Natural History & Archaeological Society (DNH&AS).

Cottage on Rye Hill in Bere Regis (1904), by Charles George Harper

Published as part of his book, 'The Hardy Country - literary Landmarks of the Wessex Novels'