Peamore, 1787–1804

Richard Stephens

Peamore was an estate just south of Exeter and “a spot of no common beauty”, according to Swete.1 From the 1740s it was the home of the Hippisley Coxe family, after John Hippisley Cox’s marriage to Mary, daughter and heiress of Stephen Northeigh of Peamore. Richard Hippisley Coxe (1742–1786, MP for Somerset 1768–84) was born at Peamore and inherited the estate on his father’s death in 1769.2 Coxe was in poor health from 1775 and was declared insane in 1784. After his death the estate was inherited by his brother Henry Hippisley Coxe (1744–1795).

Towne drew at Peamore frequently between 1775 and 1805 (FT061, FT062, FT144, FT390, FT391, FT544, FT545, FT581, FT624, FT629, FT907) and it also became a favoured spot for his pupil John White Abbott, doubtless partly because of its proximity to Exeter. Reflecting its importance, Towne included five views of Peamore at his 1805 exhibition (10–14), of which three were near the quarry. Exhibit 10, A Study of a tree blown down in Peakmore Park, was probably FT144, and FT390, FT391, and FT581 may well have been among the other exhibits—one of which, however (11, A Quarry in Peamore Park), cannot be identified with any surviving drawing (FT063a). As well as the quarry, Towne and Abbott both frequently sketched the trees by Peamore’s lake, and also views from the hills. 

The studies at Peamore are interesting as evidence of Towne’s experimentation in the watercolour medium during the latter part of his career, and chiefly his efforts to reconcile his heavily pen-based style of drawing with the more painterly demands of the contemporary watercolour scene. Among these are the pure watercolour view from the top of a hill (FT544) and two studies by the lake (FT024, FT025). But in the latest example, dated 1804, Towne resumes use of the pen (FT629), though its role is subdued; and in a magnificent tree study dated 1800 (FT624, which John White Abbott copied not long afterwards, FT836), Towne’s technique looks back to the 1780s (such as FT257) more than to the paintings in watercolour he produced for clients and exhibition in the 1790s and 1800s.

About the author

  • Independent Art Historian


  1. 1 Swete 1997, p.55; Donn 1965, p.7b.
  2. 2 Matthews 2000.


Article title
Peamore, 1787–1804
Richard Stephens
Article DOI
Cite as
Richard Stephens, "Peamore, 1787–1804", A Catalogue Raisonné of Francis Towne (1739-1816), (London: Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 2016),

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