The Redcar Manuscript is an unassuming name for a fascinating document. In August 1865 Rev. Frederick Leigh Colville left his parish of Leek Wootton in Warwickshire for a month’s holiday in Redcar. The holiday journal shown here contains his written reflections on Redcar itself and of life generally for a Victorian gentleman. Far more interesting though are the 100 or so pen and ink drawings that he produced documenting the landscapes and customs of the area. A selection of these drawings have been reproduced in this exhibition and shown alongside the original document, whilst the full document can be viewed in digital format.
The drawings are remarkable in depicting ways of life that have disappeared together with other that could have been drawn today. Colvile provided very little in way of description for the drawings and so many of the stories that they reveal can only be guessed at. Some are seemingly bizarre, such as the sea monster swimming among the bathers titled The Cod Fish among the Herrings. Others hint at a way of life that is given no context, such as the drawing of the woman gathering seaweed from the rocks. We hope that the conversations that this exhibition opens up will reveal some possible answers to the questions that the journal presents us with.
Research into this manuscript has been undertaken on behalf of Tees Valley Arts by Mia Braine through Teesside University’s Graduate Intern scheme.