Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • Valle Crucis Abbey
  • Abbey Valley Crucis
Pencil, pen and grey ink, watercolour, gum
  • image width 300mm,
  • image length 483mm
paper has a creasemark down the centre
mounted by the artist
  • sheet, recto, lower right
  • “Abbey Valle Crucis. Monacklog / Francis Towne del. / [indistinct date scratched out] No.51”
  • in black ink
  • artist's mount, verso
  • “No51 / A Copy of this was [indistinct word scratched out] done [dated scratched out, “17” visible] / for Sir Thomas Dyke Acland Bart. / North Wales / A View of Abbey Valley Crucis, Monacklog. Denbighshire / drawn on the spot by Francis Towne / [indistinct date scratched out]”
  • artist's mount, verso
  • “18 July 1777”
  • in pencil, in another hand
Object Type

Abbey Valley Crucis, near Llangollen on the river Dee, North Wales
Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Examination; Museum records (image)


Untraced until bought in 1920 for £2 10s. from Arthur Reader, Print and Book Seller of 58 Charing Cross Road, by the present owner, the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff. Paul Oppé’s note suggests that this drawing was owned by Arthur Champernowne (1768–1819; see the Comment at FT602).

Associated People & Organisations

National Museum Wales, Cardiff, Cardiff, 1920, GBP 2 10s, NMWA 3371
Arthur Reader, London, 1920
[?] Arthur Harington Champernowne (1768 - 1819)
Exhibition History
Exhibition of Original Drawings at the Gallery, No.20 Lower Brook Street, Grosvenor Square, 20 Lower Brook Street, 1805, no. 47 as Abbey Valley Crucis
Adrian Bury, Francis Towne - Lone Star of Water-Colour Painting, Charles Skilton: London, 1962, p. 137
Henry Penruddocke Wyndham, A Tour Through Monmouthshire and Wales Made in the Months of June and July 1774 and in the months of June, July and August 1777: Salisbury, 1781, pp. 178-179


Valle Crucis Abbey was a popular destination for visitors to the area of the Dee river near Llangollen:

An agreeable walk of two miles in the turnpike road leading to Ruthin, brought us to the beautiful ruins of the abbey of Vallis Crucis. They are situated in the centre of a small verdant meadow, skirted by the shady torrent of a pebbly brook; and closely encircled with a chain of lofty hills. . . . The length of the abbey church is 180 feet: the nave is 31 feet broad, and the side iles 13. The east and west fronts of the church are in good preservation: the others are either fallen or falling, and the body of the church is choaked up with their ruins. . . . Many parts of the abbot’s lodgings are remaining, which have long since been converted into a farm house.1

Unlike Sandby and Grimm, but like the second view of the abbey in Thomas Pennant’s work, Towne has not incorporated the landscape surrounding the ruins into his picture; perhaps he shared Wyndham’s negative opinion of the scenery there.

The commission Towne notes in his inscription is dated 1788 (FT548) and is one of four North Wales views commissioned by the Acland family.

Towne contributed seven lots to Christie’s to be auctioned “for the charity benefit of an artist” on 25 March 1808, including lot 88, Valle Crucis, with a reserve of £3 3s., which may have been this drawing or one based on it (see also FT066, FT085, FT118, FT257, and FT361).

by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 Wyndham 1781, pp.178–79.

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