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19th century Honiton watercolours to be auctioned

Posted On: 28 Dec 2021 by Sue Cade

Chilcotts first auction of 2022 will include lots of local flavour with the sale of five watercolours showing scenes from Honiton and the surrounding area. The paintings are the work of local artist Alfred Leyman, who was well known in his time as the Art Master at Allhallows School. He painted many scenes of the town, the villages and rural views.

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Born in Exeter in 1856, Leyman moved to Honiton in 1888, teaching at the school from 1893 until his death in 1933. Allhallows was then a grammar school for the sons of wealthy landowners and gentry - and Leyman was said to have little interest in the job of teaching boys, preferring to spend as much time as possible painting.  

His preferred medium was always watercolour, which he used to great effect painting many scenes of the area still recognisable today through landmarks.

Auctioneer Duncan Chilcott explained: “Amongst the five Leyman paintings we have for auction is one showing the River Otter. An inscription on the back of the frame describes the location as Allez Vous Lane, which we think is now Clapper Lane, as Dumpdon Hill is visible in the distance.

“Another shows the view from Beech Avenue - again a certain amount of guesswork suggests this is Beech Walk near Gittisham, as Hembury Fort is discernible in the background.

“What are now busy main roads - the A373 and A30 - were at the time little more than farm tracks as can be seen in Leyman’s portrayals of Awliscombe and Monkton. Locals will recognise some of the buildings, farms and houses, which remain standing to this day.”

The final painting clearly shows a well-known Honiton location near Turks Head, with St Margaret’s Chapel on one side of the lane and the alms-houses on the opposite side.

The watercolours have been with an old Devon family for many years. They have been well cared for; the colours remain fresh and the detail clear. The vendor and his late wife originally purchased them when out on trips, visiting antique shops and galleries in the West Country. They liked his work, but bought these particular pieces because they are paintings of the area that they loved and lived in.  

Duncan added: “These pretty watercolours will appeal to local people who have an interest in the history of the town. They give a real insight into the way Honiton and local villages looked in the late 19th century before the advent of the motor car and tarmacked roads!”

The paintings have estimates of between £200 and £400. The auction takes place from 10am on Saturday January 15 at the Dolphin Salerooms in Honiton High Street. Viewing is available at the salerooms from January 12 to 15.