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Where was Constable?
Speculation on Constable's viewpoints of Stratford sub Castle and Old Sarum 

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St Lawrence Church

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"Cottage beside a bridge near Stratford-sub-Castle; cottage with long sloping thatched roof on left side of stream running under double arched bridge to right.

1821 Watercolour and graphite. John Constable

Museum number 1888,0215.45

Curator's comments; Once believed to be a view of Milford Bridge and farm buildings, Tim Tatton-Brown has recognized Stratford-sub-Castle church in the distance, and thus the scene is beside the Avon, just a few miles north of Salisbury (information from Timothy Wilcox, for exhibition 'Constable in Salisbury', 2011)."

The British Museum

Where was Constable when he painted this view in 1821, which bridge is it and did this cottage really exist?

These are the 1817 OS (top) and 1839 Tithe (bottom) maps four years before and eighteen years after the painting.

If St Lawrence church is centre view, what cottage is this?


The bridge can only be the site of modern Stratford or Avon bridge. Has Constable used artistic licence here?


This cottage which shows no features of a mill and seems to be in a flood prone area is not Avon Farm Cottage (which is not at the river edge).


Note the road is completely different, from Avon Farm Cottage(s) and farmyard to the bridge, in the two maps.

Note The Cornfield which Constable called The Drinking Boy is said to be his only painting that isn’t accurate of the view seen, he is otherwise noted for NOT using artistic licence and inserting things not really there.

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Constable; Tithe map shrunk.jpg
Constable Google shrunk.jpg

St Lawrence Church

There was a cottage here till 20th Century, excavated in 2019

Was Constable here, painting STRATFORD bridge, with St Lawrence church in background? If so what cottage has he painted at the river's edge?

Or was he here, painting AVON bridge, with St Lawrence church in background? Again, if so what cottage has he painted at the river's edge?

Two Constable Views of Old Sarum

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He painted this in 1829. From the V &A collection


Where was he?

Is this roughly from Sarum Close, roughly 284 Devizes Rd.

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The view today roughly from Sarum Close, roughly 284 Devizes Rd.

+ marks 284 Devizes Rd position on 1877 OS map before any houses there

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This is by Constable in 1834.


We have the Avon in front of Old Sarum. To the left of Old Sarum ie our right is that the Old Castle Inn? Or houses (Avon View then) on Castle Road.


Is this exactly same spot as 1829?

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This is view from Primrose Farm which when Constable came, was Coldharbour Farm. Is this a better match?

Kerry O’Connor

Sources, British and Victoria and Albert Museums as in text.

Old OS maps from National Library of Scotland

Tithe map from Know your place

Aerial Photos Google Earth

Modern Photos by the author

June 2021

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