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Views of York
8:15am Tuesday 1st May 2012 in History articles
THERE is a wonderfully rural feel to Thomas Rowlandson’s 1801 ink and watercolour drawing of Museum Gardens and the ruins of St Mary’s Abbey - right down to the cattle grazing in the foreground.
The scene depicted is not as fanciful as it may seem to visitors to the gardens today, writes Peter Brown in his catalogue to the Views Of York exhibition at Fairfax House, where this painting is on loan.
“At this time the ruins were the backdrop for a whole range of domestic activity,” he writes. “Haystacks leaned up against the arches and there were many complaints about the tents and animals which occupied the area.”
Despite all this, the abbey ruins were still a place of pilgrimage for many – a fact alluded to by Rowlandson in the form of the two figures sketched in in the bottom left-hand corner of the picture.
• The Views of York exhibition runs at Fairfax House until August 31.
To find out more, visit the York Civic Trust website, yorkcivictrust.co.uk