Louisa Ashwell's Finmere (c. 1866-1886)
Louisa Agnes Ashwell was the wife of Seymour Ashwell, Rector of Finmere from 1866 to 1902. Both were artistic. Seymour carved the woodwork in the church (see The Millennium History), while Louisa painted watercolours of the village. Most of the paintings of which we have copies were used in Blomfield's 1886 History of Finmere.
The paintings are concentrated around the centre of the village with two outliers at Mere Road and Bacon's House. It is curious that the painting of Finmere House was not included in Blomfield's History. The pictures are painted in watercolour, though we only have monochrome copies on this website. They vary in style from formal and faithful images of the village to more impressionistic sketches.
The earliest painting seems to be that of the pre-1886 Rectory, painted in 1866 before demolition (or less probably, later from memory). Lepper's House (Stone House) was painted before the dormer story was added in 1879. The stocks by the Cross Tree had gone by the time Blomfield wrote his history (1886), so this may also be an early painting. Some copies of the paintings are now in private hands but there are perhaps others that remain to be discovered. Others appear to have been stolen from the village hall.
The map below shows in red the locations where Louisa sat to paint. Click on a picture below to see a more detailed view.
Our notes on the photographs owe much to the late Philip Willison.
James Charles Blomfield dedicated his History of Finmere to Louisa Ashwell:
Mrs Seymour Ashwell
whose skilful hand
has adorned these pages with the drawings,
which must prove to many their chief attraction,
of the parish, where she resides