200 year old drawing of Conisbrough Castle Unearthed (picture)

December 1947

South Yorkshire Times December 27, 1947

200 year old drawing of Conisbrough Castle Unearthed

A drawing of Conisbrough Castle which may be more than 200 years old has been unearth in a modern house in Conisbrough in a Japanned deed box where it has been lying unnoticed for at least 16 years. It may have been in the box, its presence overlooked, for much longer.

This drawing, reproduction which appears above, was discovered by Mr G.R.Hill, The Knoll, Doncaster Road, Conisbrough, rating Officer to Conisbrough Urban Council and belonged originally to his father, the late Mr JC Hill, for many years clerk to the old Conisbrough Parish Council and later first Rating Officer to the Urban Council, in which office he was succeeded by his younger son.

The etching bears the title:

“The South View of Conisborough Castle near Doncaster, in Yorkshire 1725,” and the inscription:

“To Edward Coke Esqr.  This Prospect is humbly inscrib’d by his moft obedient humble Servant, Sam Buck;” (and on the right hand side of the drawing) “This ancient castle, suppos’d to be the place where Hengist was slain by Britains, was the birth place of Richd Plantagenet, Duke of York, and Grandson to K. Edwd 3d, to wch family it did belong: but now is in possession of Edward Coke Esqr. Sam Buck delin et sculpt.”

Samuel Buck was apparently an artist of perception with a keen eye for detail.

Mr. Hill told me this week that he discovered the etching when going through some old papers belonging to his father. It is in an excellent state of preservation. “I had no Idea that the etching was there or indeed that my father possessed such an interesting link with the Castle so many years ago,” he added.

“The drawing was underneath a number of deeds and papers of my father’s and an indication of the manner In which the etching was prized was by the careful way to which it was wrapped.”

“I had never seen the drawing before. My father was very interested in antiquarian matters–he had. too a print of the old hall in Wellgate—and was a client of an old firm of dealers in York up and I believe the print might have come from that source.”

The discovery now holds a place of honour in the hall of Mr Hill’s home in Doncaster Road. The japanned box and contents came into Mr. Hill’s possession following his father’s death in 1931. Mr, Jesse Hill resided at one time at The Laurels, Elm Green Lane, Conisbrough, part of which served as the old Parish Council offices. He was a member of an old East Riding family. His brother, Mr. Mark Hill, Headmaster of Wallasey Grammar School, died last year, aged- 88.

By strange coincidence, within an hour of interviewing Mr. Hill, I came across an identical copy of the same 1725 view of the Castle in another Conisbrough home. This was hanging in the hall of The Dale Tom,  home of Mr. and Mrs K Smethurst.

Mr Smethurst also has an etching the interior of the Castle Keep. and told me that both drawings used to hang at the Mining Offices. Denaby, in the office of his father. Mr H. L. Smethurst, for many years Architect to Denaby and Cadeby Main Collieries. “My father bought them both from Mr Jesse Hill 30 years ago.”

And so that was how the Castle stood in 1725. It was Defoe’s England. George I had been on the throne II years and “the old way of life for peasant and craftsman was still carried on… the enterprise of trader and middleman was finding new markets for the products of the peasant’s and craftsman’s toil,”

To-day, 222 years later, the Castle still stands defying change and decay, vandal and the ravages of industrial and atmospheric attack.