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Pamber Priory; Recording Britain

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Pamber (Hampshire) (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1940 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Adams, Bernard (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Pencil tinted with colour and white heightening on paper

  • Credit Line:

    Given by the Pilgrim Trust

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F, case RB, shelf 12, box A

Physical description

Drawing; signed and titled. View of the Norman church of Pamber Priory in Hampshire, on a grey winter day with snow on the ground surrounding the gravestones in front.

Place of Origin

Pamber (Hampshire) (made)


ca. 1940 (made)


Adams, Bernard (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Pencil tinted with colour and white heightening on paper

Marks and inscriptions

'Bernard Adams'


Height: 25.4 cm, Width: 35.6 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 ran in 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

Drawing by Bernard Adams, 'Pamber Priory', from the Recording Britain Collection (Hampshire); England, ca.1940.

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.
The full text of the entry is as follows:

ADAMS, Bernard.


Pamber Priory.
Signed in pencil Bernard Adams.
Inscribed with title.
Pencil tinted with colour and heightened with Chinese white (10 x 14)

Palmer, Arnold, ed. Recording Britain. London: Oxford University Press, 1946-49. Vol. 4: Wiltshire, Somerset, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Hampshire, Sussex, Kent. p.123.
'The Admiralty, the War Office, and the Air Ministry composed their rivalries and, like the linked figures in an outfitter's advertisement, stood in united and non-cultural guardianship against recording in Hampshire. They did not bar the whole county, and forty-seven paintings were eventually completed - a respectable total in the circumstances. But from beginning to end there were areas - anyone can guess where they lay - in which the work of recording was impossible, as well as others where it was only just, or only sometimes, possible.

Though, in fact, the group includes drawings made in all parts of the county except the vicinities of Southampton, Portsmouth, and Aldershot, most of the work took place inside a central and almost equilateral triangle, Petersfield - Odiham - Andover. It is a large triangle and, whatever the reader may feel, the artists suffered little from a sense of restriction as they worked their way through the lovely, unexploited villages so rich in character and tradition.'

[excerpt from Hampshire introduction]
Pevsner, Nikolaus and David Lloyd. The Buildings of England: Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1967.
'PAMBER PRIORY. The Benedictine priory of Pamber was founded about 1120-30 by Henry de Port as a cell of Cerisy-la-Forêt. It was dissolved as an alien priory by Henry VI in 1414. The remains of the priory are largely Norman, but not so early. They are exclusively of the church. The crossing tower dominates the scene. It stands on its four arches, but of details only the completely plain imposts and the roll mouldings of the W and E arches remain...The tower now has a pyramid roof, and probably always has had one, though it is possible that it had one more storey.'


Paper; Pencil; Zinc white


Drawing; Painting

Subjects depicted

Topographical views; Snow; Hampshire; Priories; Pamber


Drawings; Recording Britain Collection

Collection code


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