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Thomas Colman Dibdin
Rye House Gatehouse, Stanstead Abbots, Hertfordshire

The Painting
A watercolour measuring 8″ x 11″. Signed T.C. Dibdin and dated 1836.

About the Artist
Thomas Colman Dibdin (1810-1893) was born in Betchworth, Surrey. He was a landscape and architectural painter in watercolour of subjects in England and France. He exhibited in 1831-83 including at the Royal Academy (15), British Institution (15), the Society of British Artists, Suffolk Street (79), and the New Watercolour Society (1). In 1848 he published Progressive Lessons in Water Colour Painting. He was forced to give up painting in 1883 because of blindness.

The Subject
Rye House Gatehouse, Stanstead Abbots, Hertfordshire. Rye House, on the north bank of the River Lea, was built in 1443 by Sir Andrew Ogard, along with stables, barns and malt house. A moat, now partly filled in, surrounded it on all sides. None of the original medieval buildings have survived, with the exception of the Gatehouse. In 1683 the House and its then owner, Richard Rumbold, were written into history for the part they played in the infamous ‘Rye House Plot’, in which Whig conspirators plotted unsuccessfully to assassinate King Charles II and his brother en route back to London from the Newmarket races. The Gatehouse was then used as a workhouse for the parish before the Poor Law of 1834. Mr W. Henry Teale, who ran the Rye House Hotel, started to develop the area in 1849 as a popular entertaining place for Londoners on a day out. The Gatehouse was badly damaged by fire in 1936, but was designated a Scheduled Monument in the 1950s and rescued by the Lee Valley Park authority in 1970.
This is a particularly early work by Dibdin. Another rare early view of the Gatehouse was produced by Paul Sandby (1730-1809) in around 1780 (V&A Collection E810-1939). An engraving dated 1824 appeared in Robert Clutterbuck’s The History and Antiquities of the County of Hertford (1827), p. 244.

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