The Widecombe-in-the-Moor Website
Widecombe History Group Talks
In The Footsteps of Peter Orlando Hutchinson’ was the title of a talk given by Philippe Planel, Heritage Project Officer for East Devon.
Who was Peter Orlando Hutchinson?
He was an artist, inventor, photographer and enthusiast of East Devon. It is as a result of so much of his work that the Heritage of East De von (Sidmouth, Salcombe and Branscombe areas in particular) can be appreciated today.
West of Sidmouth is an area known as High Peak and he did several drawings and paintings of that area in the 1810-1891 period. He was passionate about the buildings and the scenery around him, and this he set out to record ‘as it was then' and this is what makes his work so important to those interested in studying the evolution and heritage of East Devon today.
He even went so far as to petition Queen Victoria, when an old medieval chancel was being removed from a local church, when the Victorians were almost having a vendetta against medieval architecture. He did in fact construct a building into which he incorporated the chancel and other structures that he had ‘saved’ from destruction.
His written works make up a considerable folio which is held at DRO in Exeter.
His diaries of over 2000 pages record so much, including some sketches. He had the habit of drawing and colouring his work ’on site’ and recorded it as so, on his paintings. His paintings show the small fields (Plats) of Branscombe, hanging on to the edge of the cliffs. These fields fertilized by the farmers bringing seaweed up from the beaches below.
His work shows the geological and archaeological aspects of the area and he also recorded the archaeological finds of the time. Pottery and flints implements many of the Neolithic age. He interpreted what he saw, and plotted what he thought would have been the High Peak area years before, allowing for the erosion of the cliffs. This erosion still goes on - somewhat faster these days it appears.
Hut circles, at Mutters Moor, a Bronze Age relic, a grave pit, Farway Castle and the bronze age aspects of that area too.
Field walking, a present day method of looking for archaeological finds, best held when a field has been ploughed, done with the farmer’s permission before he sows a crop, was an interest of his.
Orlando also drew maps and plans, so valuable when comparing the landscape of then, with that of today.
His drawings recorded so much of interest including activity at sea, on land and beach. A stranded whale, shipwreck, the lime kilns above Jacob’s Ladder, now secured by a concrete buttress keeping the sea at bay. His interest in the enclosure movement, where common land was enclosed and cultivated. His drawings show so much of the processes of this period. One sketch of the ‘whetstone’ quarry, believed to be the only drawing of its kind.
There is so much to this man Hutchinson and more can be read if you “Google” Peter Orlando Hutchinson.
The website created about this man makes brilliant reading.
A conference will be held at Kennaway House, Sidmouth on Saturday 20th April 2013. Contact Philippe on 01404 46663 for more details.
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