THE RURAL HISTORY CENTRE includes the Museum of English Rural Life
Museum of English Rural Life


Catalogue of Sketches
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William Simmonds, 1876 - 1968

Catalogue of Sketches

The drawings of the Cotswolds illustrate a wide-ranging interest and great observation of detail.

Edgeworth Mill, June 1926

pencil drawings 32 x 50 cm 73/205

Cider mill and press, Owlpen Manor, September 1925

pencil drawing 51 x 34 cm 73/207

Cider press, Owlpen Manor, October 1925

pencil drawing 52 x 34 cm 70/319

Kitchen fireplace, Owlpen Manor, June 1926

pencil drawing 25 x 35 cm 73/198
Owlpen Manor is a sixteenth century manor house built of local stone. The drawing of the kitchen shows the ceiling rack, as well as the hearth and its fittings.

Rick staddle, Bisley, 1926

pencil drawing 35 x 54cm 73/206

Cotswold Stone stiles, July 1939

4 pencil drawings each 11 x 17 cm 70/320

Village Spring, Frampton Mansell, August 1929

pencil drawing 25 x 33 cm 70/318 Frampton Mansell is one of the small villages of the wooded hillsides around Stroud known as the "Golden Valley".

Dutch barn and wagons, The Downs Farm, Frampton Mansell, June 1925

pencil drawing 32 x 50 cm 70/317 >From left to right the drawing shows, a partially loaded 4 wheel bow wagon from Rodmarton; a bow wagon, the note pointing out that the body was made by Simmons of Sapperton but the wheels and undercarriage are new; a 2-wheel cart, said to have been 'on Mr. Clark's farm at Avening 40 years'; a wheel, made by Bird of Dursley, a 4-wheel wagon, with a body made by Gardiner of Sapperton and an undercarriage and wheels by the Bristol Carriage and Wagon Works, a wagon made by Bird of Dursley.

Cart, near Haresfield, June 1926

pencil drawing 34 x 52 cm 70/316 This two-wheel harvest cart, with its delicate curving wheel arches, is similar to the Cornish wain, the Scotch harvest cart and the Welsh gambo (70/315).

Bow wagon, back, front and side views

no date pencil drawing 56 x 76 cm 70/313 The typical wagon of the South Midlands.

Box wagon, Elliot's Farm, August 1928

pencil drawing 25 x 35 cm 70/314 The typical wagon of much of eastern England.

Cart, Oakridge

no date pencil sketch and note, 17 x 22 cm 73/197 William Simmonds notes that this primitive two wheel cart was the only one known in Oakridge during the youth of his informant, George Gardiner, who did not see a 'proper pony trap' until he was fourteen years old.

Sidney Barnsley's house, Sapperton 1927

pencil drawing 25 x 34 cm. 73/199 The note says "before alteration". Sidney Barnsley, 1865 - 1926, with his brother Ernest and Ernest Gimson established workshops in Gloucestershire at the end of the nineteenth century, eventually at Daneway House, Sapperton. This house was designed by Barnsley and built of local materials by local craftsmen. He was known particularly as a craftsman in wood, especially solid construction in oak which he designed and made himself.

William Simmonds visited Kent and made these drawings in 1926. In a sketch book, now in the museum's document collection, are further notes and studies from the county.

Olden Manor.

Showing Joiners marks.
11th August 1926.
Pencil Sketch
D71/2/1/1 (sketchbook)

Canterbury Museum

unfinished sketch of waggon, afer T.S. Cooper 1832
Canterbury 16th August 1926.
Pencil Sketch
D71/2/1/2 (sketchbook)

Wagon, Burnthouse Farm, Chartham, August 1926

pencil drawing in sketchbook D71/2/1/3
drawing with measurements in sketchbook D71/2/1/3

Harness, Ashford Market, August 1926

Pencil sketch, annotated: "Horse resting in the large shed in the cattle market place."
D71/2/1/5 (sketchbook)

Old mill, dated 1813, Kennington, August 1926

pencil drawing 16 x 12 cm
This mill was reported derelict by 1933. At the time of the drawing it could only have been an empty shell.

Fireplace, Sumach cottage, Kennington, August 1926

pencil drawing 12 x 16 cm

Smock mill, Will(e)sborough, August 1926

pencil drawing 35 x 25 cm
Mills of this type, with octagonal weather boarded towers and square brick bases, were once widespread in Kent. This mill was built in 1869 and is still standing.

Later in 1926 William Simmonds visited Glamorgan. His sketchbook includes various notes and reminiscences as well as drawings. The following transcription from his notes illustrates an interest in those examples of craftsman's work which were disappearing from the countryside, primarily the search for Irish and truckle carts on the Gower peninsula'

Ickelsham Mill

Annotated sketches
Pencil Sketches and notes
D71/2/1/6 (sketchbook)

Harness, Mr. Tuckers Farm, Horton, September, 1926

pencil drawing 20 x 29 cm 73/200 Mr. Tucker was one of Simmonds' informants, see transcription.

Rhosilli Church entrance, Gower, August 1926

pencil drawing 25 x 35 cm 73/201 Rhosilli is at the extreme south-west tip of the Gower peninsula. The entrance is to the thirteenth century church, St. Mary's.


Sketch of farm building with shed
Pencil Sketch
D71/2/1/7 (sketchbook)

Annotated sketch

Description taken down from a man at Rhosilly
Pencil Sketch
D71/2/1/9 (sketchbook)

Wheels, Rosill, Rhosilli, no date ? 1926

Truckle cart wheels of elm hooped with iron
pencil drawing in sketch book

Measured drawing, wheel.

August 1926
Pencil Sketch with measurements. Includes drawing of iron rod "much rusted on a field wall by the cliff path to Oxwich."
D71/2/1/10 (sketchbook)

'Truck car', Well Park, Llangennith, no date ? 1926

pencil drawing of cart and horse, with rough measurements D71/2/1/11 The truck car is discussed in Simmonds' notes.

Wheels, Horton 1926

Two solid wooden wheels, with traces of red paint.
August 1926
Pencil Sketch
D71/2/1/11 (sketchbook)

Wheel and tongue (?), Horton

Measured drawing of wheel, and sketch of tongue (?)
Annotated "T. W. Gordon, Horton"; undated
Pencil Sketch
D71/2/1/12 (sketchbook)

Cart, two solid wheels, Overton

pencil drawing
September 1st, 1926


Swansea Museum
Pencil Sketch
D71/2/1/16 (sketchbook)

Wheels, (Overton); and Flails (Swansea Museum)

Measured drawing of section of wheel. Annotated : "Pair of wheels on farm at Overton said to be about the type (and probably more) Irish car wheels" Plus sketch of flails from Swansea Museum; dated 1928.
Swanseas sketch dated 1926
Pencil Sketch
D71/2/1/15 (sketchbook)

Two carts (Mumbles 1844 (?) )

Drawn from a sketch in the Swansea picture gallery (Museum)
undated (probably 1926)
Pencil Sketch
D71/2/1/17 (sketchbook)

Cart, 'wean, sometimes called gambo', Horton, August 1926

pencil drawing
J.G. Jenkins writes that the Welsh gambo is related with the English longcart and Scotch harvest cart, to various Mediterranean carts (Two Wheeled Carts, Gwerin Volume II No 4).

Man at Horton talking of truckle car wheels
"I've got a pair in my shed they were my grand fathers".
talking of the Irish car:
"It was a high backed cart, but the wheels were larger, -- trap wheels about 3ft high and I think there was a low rail across the front (about 9" high)

From a photograph in a cottage at Oxwich, Gower, described by the owner as an "Irish car" the kind of cart that used to be used in Gower by nearly all the people, now quite vanished. Her son told me that within his memory all the people used to go to Swansea in them, usually loaded on each way of the journey, and not trotting, the roads being too bad.

Transcription : The search for an Irish Car
A Farmer at Overton loading swede turnips carefully in layers of straw told me that I might find the body of an Irish car at W. John's, Tyncoed Farm, at Reynoldstone near Arthurstone. Saw W. Johns but he had no Irish car. Told me the only one he knew of belongs to Mrs. Groves, Leason, about half a mile away on the Llanmadog Road. Went there and found it to be a not very old one but very much what had been described to me, Mrs. Groves told me that her husband had an Irishman working for him at one time and he, hearing her husband's talk of their "Irish car" said, "Well I've lived in Ireland all my life I've never seen one of those damned things".
She also told me that the seat was tied on with cord and that her mother (when Mrs. G. was a child) always felt content when the children were put safely in the back of the car, where they stood or sat holding on to the back rails and looking out between them, with no danger of falling out.
That the old people said (when the spring trap came into use) that the Irish car got their "things" to market in better condition than the trap. It was slower but did not shake the eggs and butter so much in spite of its having no springs. It was used about the farm for carrying corn and hay.

'Irish car', Mrs Groves Leason, Gower, September, 1926

section of cart and detail of back, with measurements
September 1926
D71/2/1/18 The search for an 'Irish car' and descriptions of its construction and use may be found in the notes.

'Irish car', Mrs Groves Leason, Gower, September, 1926

Sketch of Irish car
September 1926
D71/2/1/18 (sketchbook)

Transcription of notes from sketchbook

Old man at Rhosilli, Glamorgan, Gower.
"'Did ye buy the wheels"
"Ah they're a hundred years old. My son did service at that farm and he used that cart before it was broken. I remember because he was sent up on to the hill to cut "ruzz" and he loaded it too near the mares behind, and she let out and upset it so he had to start again".

? Young man
After telling me that the truckle cart was fastened to the axle by a long loose pin, said, "the pin would come out if you trotted the horse over rough roads, but not if it was loaded and the horse went steady. I've let the horse go sometimes when I was a boy and jolted the pin out on one side and this was fun, to go on one wheel".

Old man with a sheaf of oats on a fork over his shoulder
"Ah, truck car we do call it. Tis ay handy to fetch a bit o' fern off the hill of for gettin' corn-"

Mr. Tom Taylor, Cuming Farm, Llanmadog.
"Those two wheels were made from a piece of wood taken from the sea, years ago, no one knows how old they are (Truckle car). The Irish car had one step, but I can remember my old aunt had a step made with a hook to it and this she would hook on to the shaft when she went to Swansea. There was a board across the front about 6" high and a row of iron bars from that to a top rail making the front about a foot high. Then near the back a rail ran above the side with iron bars carrying it, and above the boarding at the back iron bars again so the side came within 6" of the top of the back hame. The wheels of the Irish car were dished so that the top of the wheel cleared the side well"
W.G.S. The slide car as described as by T. Taylor same as the truckle car but projecting 2.0' behind and faced with hard wood and a piece of hoop iron (a small sketch of the car described by Taylor).

The Blacksmith at Llanmadog
The old lady who used to live in the first little house along there I've heard say that she used to go into Swansea one day and come back the next - she'd start in the morning and take all day getting there and start back late at night and get home the next day.

Mr. Tucker's description of threshing and winnowing in the earlier times in Gower.
The corn threshed with flails and winnowed by sifting into a sheet out of doors, the wind taking the husk away, it might have to be done times over to get rid of all the husk.

Bus inspector, Gower Glamorgan
Inspector on bus from Horton to Swansea talking to an old passenger about widgeon and teal shooting. "I had fifteen at one shot one time".
Passenger "When was that".
"Ah, now you'd like to know, but I'll tell you how it was. It was winter time and there was a little bush over a small pool of water that didn't freeze and they used to come down there to drink, and you know how they all pack up together when they settle on anything, well I let go two barrells into em! fifteen I got".

Mr. Tucker, Horton, Gower, Glamorgan
"In my father's time they used what was called a truckle cart, long shafts with two small wheels, proper wheel with iron hoops right at the hack (near the back) and a high ladder at the back end and a small one in front, and in my grand father's time they had no wheels at all but the shafts were fixed into pieces of hard wood to slide along the ground and he used to talk of a time when there was not a cart in Gower and the manure was carried to the fields on horses backs in bags". Cart on the road near Oxwich (small sketch of covered two wheeled cart). The man selling goods from it told me that it was made at M-- when I admired it.

Old man at Rhosilli talking of the spoiling corn
"Tis come to a nice point wi some o' it".

N.B. J.G. Jenkins in Two wheeled carts, Gwerin Volume II No 4, writes of Britain that it was a "zone of admixture where the wagon, a feature of continental life, meets the cart, a cultural feature of Atlantic Europe". He writes of Western and Northern Britain that two wheeled vehicles are "varied in the extreme", but all display certain common features. The main common feature is their relationship with the simple sledge, the slide car. The Irish and truckle cars shown here are clearly related to the primitive vehicle. Jenkins says that the Irish car (or car gwyddelig) was widely used in Glamorgan and Breconshire.

Whilst traveling in Europe William Simmonds was clearly still interested in rural life. The drawings include detailed studies of the interior and exterior of a French windmill and samples of farm transport which are very different from those observed in Gloucestershire or in Wales.

Farm wagon, Sangatte, August 1925

pencil drawing 17 x 25 cm
The wagon appears particularly long and at the top of the drawing is a note of its exact length 15.0 feet. The maker's name, M. Hembert is noted at the side.
Sangatte is situated between Calais and Boulogne.

Farm cart, Sangatte, August 1925

pencil drawing 16 x 25 cm
An unusual three wheeled cart.

Three ox ploughs, San Paolo Mosciano, May 1925

pencil drawing 24 x 34 cm
Mosciano is a small village in South Central Italy

Laurel C. Ball,
Museum of English Rural Life
University of Reading
December, 1973



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