Romantic Circles Gallery
Views of Pevensey Castle
Page thirty-two displays eight views from the ruined ground of Pevensey Castle. All images are black and white wood prints.
105.—General View of the Ruins of Pevensey Castle is a wide horizontal panorama of the entire castle structure, featuring foliage and split rail fences surrounding the grounds. Two distant figures walk along a path toward the castle, one with a long object across the shoulder. Two other, small figures stand in the foreground with their backs to the viewer, one with a cane and the other pointing to the left.
106.—Plan of Pevensey Castle is a topographical view of Pevensey Castle and features a compass rose. It appears to be a circular fortification. Some sections are outlined with a solid line and shaded; other are marked in dotted line and left unshaded. In the southeast quadrant of the circumscribed area, another circular structure is delineated in dotted outline.
107.—Walls and Gates of Pevensey is an external, horizontal view of the castle. The wall in view has a tower at either end, and there is an arched entrance in the center. As noted in the associated text on page thirty-five, herring-bone masonry is visible on the right tower. Figures stand at the top of the staircase of the arched entryway. A pair of figures in the foreground, with their backs to the viewer, face the castle. The figure in a black overcoat points toward the entrance, while the figure in a white coat stands slightly behind him; three sheep lie to their left. More sheep lie around the right-hand tower. A distant figure near the right edge extends an arm upward, and a dog appears to stand between this figure and the right-hand tower.
108.—Walls, Pevensey shows, at a distance, three rounded towers and the two sets of high walls joining them. A squared, stone-looking structure with an arched entryway has been erected on top of the rightmost tower. A man, woman and child appear with their backs to us in the foreground. Another couple stands closer to the high wall, and a final set of three figures are arranged around the right tower.
109.—Supposed Saxon Keep, Pevensey: In the middle ground is a large boulder and in the foreground, walking among the shrubs, are two sheep.
110.—Sally-port, Pevensey is composed of a wide porch area with a deep soffit (overhang) and a three-tiered portal which leads inside the structure. Just in front of and to the left of the porch, two figures appear to converse. Two sheep rest in the foreground in front of the entrance.
111.—Norman Keep, Pevensey is a wide topographical view of the remains of a medieval fortification which appear to be surrounded by a moat. The area around the fortification is grassy. In the foreground there is a group of human figures to the left, an adult and two children, and a cluster of farm animals to the right.
112.—Interior of Norman Tower, Pevensey is a round, three-story structure. There is a lone window in the third story, four on the second and three portals on the bottom level. Two children figures walk around the circular arena that leads from the ground-floor portals, and an adult figure to the right looks down onto the arena from a slightly higher elevation.
Copyright 2009, Department of Special Collections, Memorial Library, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI
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Printing ContextThese seven images first appeared bound in Charles Knight’s Old England: A Pictorial Museum of Regal, Ecclesiastical, Municipal, Baronial, and Popular Antiquities (London, 1845).
The site of Pevensey Castle is home to a third-century Roman fort, Anderida. Sometime after William, Duke of Hastings, led the Norman invasion of England in the fall of 1066, a castle was built within the Roman structure.
Associated TextsThe Penny Magazine (1832-46)
Knight founded The Penny Magazine following his reestablishment as an independent publisher in 1829. He received the backing of the SDUK in March 1832 and began printing by the end of the month. Knight reused printing machinery from another publishing endeavor, The Library of Entertaining Knowledge, to produce efficiently his low-cost magazine. The periodical covered a wide range of subjects, including art criticism, science, history and geography, and became very popular among its target audience, those "many persons whose time and whose means are equally limited" (Anderson, "Pictures for the People" 53). It reached 200,000 copies by the end of the year. For Knight and the SDUK, the magazine was a means of combating the social disorder of the time through general education (Anderson, "Pictures for the People" 50-53).
SubjectIn this image, the various views of Pevensey Castle highlight the connections between the history of medieval Britain and constructed political unity.
SignificanceThe constellation of ten images in Charles Knight’s volume on British history creates a rich set of perspectives on the historic site of Pevensey Castle. The picturesque aesthetic, first advocated by the Rev. William Gilpin, was often applied to medieval ruins. One technique of this aesthetic involved the creative re-assemblage of elements observed in nature to create a harmonious image (see Gilpin's "On Picturesque Beauty," London, 1792; 8). Gilpin’s advice was directed toward the amateur artists and tourists of the British countryside. Although these images seem to reflect a greater degree of detail, probably signifying that they are “truer”-to-life renderings of Pevensey, they are compositionally similar to the piece-by-piece reconstruction required by Gilpin’s process of creating the picturesque. For Gilpin, parts assembled together produce a beautiful whole, but in this plate from Old England, the various views (schematic renderings, drawings of entryways, and interiors of the Keep) provide a more complete understanding of the site of Pevensey as a whole. Kim Michasiw notes how Gilpin inserts figures into his images who interact with the ruins as a means of engaging viewers (Michasiw 84-86). Similarly, Knight’s engravings depict visitors to Pevensey in order to help viewers imagine the site as if they were actually there.
Gilpin’s series of guide books, famous by the beginning of the nineteenth century, were intended for amateur artists and tourists of the British Isles; the work made his art accessible to all. Knight had similar ambitions with his volume on English history. Knight’s article in the London Magazine clarified his opinion regarding the need “to provide adequate excitements, and reasonable gratifications, for the intellectual activity of the working classes” and their children (Education of the People, 3;1). The sciences, history, and geography were the primary subjects of focus. But the arts featured prominently as well, evidenced by his frequent inclusion of copies of artwork from antiquity and contemporary times. These art objects were often used as illustrations for moral lessons (Anderson, "Pictures for the People" 137). Although these publications did participate in a general, reform movement mentality which sought (in the 1830s and '40s) to quell the civil unrest among the working classes by means of education, they reflect a more prominent goal for Knight. This goal aimed at the transmission of “one of art's central traditions: that body of thought which equated art with moral elevation and advanced civilization, and artists with virtue and industriousness” (Anderson, "Pictures for the People" 137).
Knight’s collection of engravings and commentary on the “Antiquities [sic] of a great Nation” described the “richest treasures that we have derived from a long line of ancestors” (Old England 1). Originally issued in parts and available to “all ranks of people, at the cheapest rate" (Old England 1), Knight’s publication participated in the “education of the people” by reinforcing Romantic notions of the elevated status of the arts: the volume specifically encouraged the idea of drawing as a polite and useful art for all classes (Bermingham 77-78), and also implicitly emphasized and contributed to the construction of political unity via a knowledge of history.
BibliographyEditorial Responsibility, in the Matter of "Old England": Being Three Letters Published in the Athenaeum, and Mr. Knight's Comments thereupon. 1867. Cowen Tracts. JSTOR. Web. 30 Mar. 2009.
Anderson, Patricia J. “Charles Knight and Company.” British Literary Publishing Houses, 1820-1860. Dictionary of Literary Biography. Anderson and Jonathan Rose, eds. Vol. 106. Detroit: Gale Research, 1991. Print.
---. “Pictures for the People: Knight's 'Penny Magazine,' an Early venture into Popular Art Education.” Studies in Art Education 28.3 (1987): 133-40. Print.
---. The Printed Image and the Transformation of Popular Culture, 1790-1860. Oxford: Clarendon P; New York: Oxford UP, 1991. Print.
Bermingham, Ann. Learning to Draw: Studies in the Cultural History of a Polite and Useful Art. New Haven: Yale UP, 2000. Print. The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art.
Knight, Charles. "Education of the People." The London magazine 1.1 (1828): 13. ProQuest. Web. 1 Apr. 2009.
---. Passages from the Life of Charles Knight. New York, 1874. Making of America. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan Library, 2005. Web. 9 April 2009.
---. Old England: A Pictorial Museum of Regal, Ecclesiastical, Municipal, Baronial, and Popular Antiquities. London: Sangster, 185-. Print.
Mitchell, Rosemary. “Knight, Charles (1791–1873).” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Ed. H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. Oxford: OUP, 2004. Online ed. Ed. Lawrence Goldman. Jan. 2008. Web. 1 Apr. 2009.
“Pevensey.” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2009. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Web. 3 Apr. 2009.
Long TitleOld England : A pictorial museum of regal, ecclesiastical, municipal, baronial, and popular antiquities. Edited by Charles Knight in two volumes.-vol.I. [Plate on p. 32]
c. Early 19th century