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Cottages at Canford Magna, Wimbourne

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Canford Magna (painted)

  • Date:

    1942 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Jones, Barbara, born 1912 - died 1978 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Watercolour painting with white heightening on paper

  • Credit Line:

    Given by the Pilgrim Trust

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level H, case RB, shelf 48

Canford Magna was a so-called 'model village'. It was laid out by the local landowner, Sir Ivor Bertie Guest, to house his estate workers. Two rows of cottages were built between 1870 and 1872. In their original form they were rather plain, but they were transformed by rustic porches built by a local thatcher, John Hicks. Each porch, a construction of twigs and branches nailed together, and then thatched or tiled, was different. He worked on them from 1883 to 1898. Barbara Jones, who painted these for the Recording Britain scheme, was particularly interested in amateur work and popular arts and crafts, and in vernacular architecture.

Physical description

Watercolour painting; signed, dated and inscribed with title. The two exotically embellished rustic porches shown in the painting adorn what were previously rather plain cottages. The porches themselves, like so much wooden architecture, are ephemeral; the artist's watercolours of them may stand as the only record of them.

Place of Origin

Canford Magna (painted)


1942 (painted)


Jones, Barbara, born 1912 - died 1978 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Watercolour painting with white heightening on paper

Marks and inscriptions

'Barbara Jones 1942'
Signed and dated at lower right

Inscribed with title at lower right


Height: 35.6 cm, Width: 52.7 cm

Object history note

This work is from the 'Recording Britain' collection of topographical watercolours and drawings made in the early 1940s during the Second World War. In 1940 the Committee for the Employment of Artists in Wartime, part of the Ministry of Labour and National Service, launched a scheme to employ artists to record the home front in Britain, funded by a grant from the Pilgrim Trust. It ran until 1943 and some of the country's finest watercolour painters, such as John Piper, Sir William Russell Flint and Rowland Hilder, were commissioned to make paintings and drawings of buildings, scenes, and places which captured a sense of national identity. Their subjects were typically English: market towns and villages, churches and country estates, rural landscapes and industries, rivers and wild places, monuments and ruins. Northern Ireland was not covered, only four Welsh counties were included, and a separate scheme covered Scotland.

The scheme was known as 'Recording the changing face of Britain' and was established by Sir Kenneth Clark, then the director of the National Gallery. It ran alongside the official War Artists' Scheme, which he also initiated. Clark was inspired by several motives: at the outbreak of war in 1939, there was a concern to document the British landscape in the face of the imminent threat of bomb damage, invasion, and loss caused by the operations of war. This was allied to an anxiety about changes to the landscape already underway, such as the rapid growth of cities, road building and housing developments, the decline of rural ways of life and industries, and new agricultural practices, which together contributed to the idea of a 'vanishing Britain'. Clark also wanted to help artists, and the traditional forms of British art such as watercolour painting, to survive during the uncertain conditions of wartime. He in turn was inspired by America's Federal Arts Project which was designed to give artists employment during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Over 1500 works were eventually produced by 97 artists, of whom 63 were specially commissioned. At the time the collection had a propaganda role, intended to boost national morale by celebrating Britain's landscapes and heritage. Three exhibitions were held during the war at the National Gallery, and pictures from the collection were sent on touring exhibitions and to galleries all around the country. After the war, the whole collection was given to the V&A by the Pilgrim Trust in 1949, and it was documented in a four volume catalogue published between 1946 and 1949. For many years the majority of the collection was on loan to councils and record offices in each county, until recalled by the V&A around 1990. The pictures now form a memorial to the war effort, and a unique record of their time.

Descriptive line

Watercolour by Barbara Jones, 'Cottages at Canford Magna, Wimborne', from the Recording Britain Collection (Dorsetshire); signed, dated and titled; England, 1942.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Catalogue of Drawings in the 'Recording Britain' Collection given by the Pilgrim Trust to the Victoria and Albert Museum published by the Victoria and Albert Museum, Prints, Drawings and Paintings Department, 1951
Palmer, Arnold, ed. Recording Britain. London: Oxford University Press, 1946-49. Vol. 4: Wiltshire, Somerset, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Hampshire, Sussex, Kent. pp.120-121, illus.
Mellor, David, Gill Saunders and Patrick Wright. Recording Britain: A Pictorial Domesday of Pre-War Britain. Newton Abbot and London: David & Charles in association with the Victoria and Albert Museum, 1990. p.66, illus.
Palmer, Arnold, ed. Recording Britain. London: Oxford University Press, 1946-49. Vol. 4: Wiltshire, Somerset, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Hampshire, Sussex, Kent. Introduction to Dorset, p.99.
Newman, John and Nikolaus Pevsner. The Buildings of England: Dorset. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1972. p.129.


Watercolour; Zinc white; Paper



Subjects depicted

Cottages ornés; New Towns, Victorian; Topographical views; Cottages; Porches


Images Onlinee; Paintings; Recording Britain Collection


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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