Image Resources: Web Sources - Museums & Galleries

Online sources for topographical images of castles and architectural features: Drawings / maps / engravings / sketches / watercolours etc

A Guide to British Topographical Collections – M W Barley 1974 (by county)

The British Library – online images – (Good for S H Grimm, late C18 and Edward Blore, early & mid C19).  Also good for special collections -

The King’s Topographical Collection (King George III - British Library collection on Flickr). Contains drawn and printed maps, views and atlases produced between 1500 and 1824. The entire collection can be accessed here.

Historic England - Educational Images - Photographic library:

The British Museum:

Cambridge University Digital Library (especially for John Speed’s Counties of Britain) and

Cambridge University: The Fitzwilliam Museum & Gallery:  

(Click: ‘Only with Images’ and ‘Deep x=zoom enable (IIIF)’

The Courtauld Gallery London:

The Royal Collection Trust:

The Society of Antiquaries:

Tate Britain:

Tate Britain - Turner’s sketch books on-line:

George Vertue’s Vetusta Monumenta:

The Ashmolean Museum - Oxford:

The Yale Center for British Art - Collections:

Harvard Library Digital Collection: For Samuel Hieronymus Grimm paintings

National Galleries of Scotland: For a few Francis Place images

Francis Towne Images - complete collection:

The National Museum of Wales:

The National Library of Wales:

National Gallery of Ireland:

The Met (Metropolitan Museum of Art):

Art UK:

Watercolour World: Database of pre-1900 watercolours from private and public collections around the world:

The Government Art Collection:

The Victoria & Albert Museum (some very good 1850s-70s  castle photographs):

For Samuel and Nathaniel Buck images (1720s - 1750s):

Good sized views but contain a Panteek watermark. And:

Then go to and scroll down

Local /Regional art galleries, many of whom now have good collections online:

Liverpool: Walker Art Gallery Liverpool:  

Leeds: Leeds Art Gallery:

Birmingham: Birmingham Museums Trust:  

Manchester: (Whitworth Gallery)


Cambridge: The Relhan Collection:

(Cambridge Digital Library - Antiquities in Cambridgeshire drawn by Richard Relhan, 1797-1838 - includes images of Cambridge castle)

Dealers & retailers in antiquarian prints that have on-line shops/galleries:

For prints from early antiquarian books, there may be a version of the book online. See the ‘Gatehouse’ website, under each castle’s bibliography, and go to the link; some websites allow page downloads to save as an image, others (Google) only allow you to print off the page.  

As a rule of thumb, the earliest prints/engravings (17th/early-18th century) are the most accurate and draughtsman-like, not necessarily the most aesthetic, although the Samuel and Nathaniel Buck prints were often drawn at the request of the owner, so they would sometimes exaggerate a building or a feature that the owner wanted to highlight.

Important 16th –18th century artists/draughtsmen/antiquarians: See also Topographical Prints and Drawings

John Speed (for maps) (1552-1629) British Isles, 1611, with town & county detail;John Norden (c.1547-1625); Anton van den Wyngaerde; Ralph Agas; William Smith; Braun and Hogenberg; Daniel King (d. c. 1664); Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-1677);

Francis Place (1647-1728); William Stukeley (1687-1775); George Vertue (1684-1776)  (Vetusta Monumenta); Buck, Samuel  (1696-1779) and Nathaniel, (fl 1724-1759), Buck's Antiquities or Venerable Remains of above four hundred Castles, Monastries, Palaces, etc. etc., in England and Wales,  (1774). [Most drawings date to the 1730s & 40s].

Late-18th and 19th century paintings, prints and drawings.

In the late 18th &19th centuries there was an explosion of good artists painting in the ‘Sublime’ or ‘Picturesque’ fashion and many took liberties with the landscape and buildings’ features to create a ‘Romantic’ or bucolic or arcadian scene. This includes J M W W Turner, a major practitioner of this genre, however delightful his paintings are. So not everything seen can be believed. The better artists, for accuracy, are listed below:

For local studies, antiquarian prints can be found in various county topographical series:

Cornwall:            William Borlase (1695-1772), 1769: Antiquities Historical and  Monumental of the County of Cornwall

Cumbria, N. Lancs & the Lake District:   

Herefordshire:    Thomas Bonnor (1798-1815), Perspective Itinerary…….of Ten views of Goodrich Castle (Vol. II, 1798). Published                            by J Cary;  Robinson, C. J., 1869, The Castles of Herefordshire and Their Lords

Kent & Dover:     Captain Durrants Sketchbook (Dover Castle)

Shropshire:         F. Stackhouse-Acton, 1868, The Castles and Old Mansions of Shropshire

Monmouthshire:  William Coxe (1747-1828), 1801, An Historical Tour in Monmouthshire

© 2023 Castle Studies Group

The Embarkation of Henry VIII at Dover 1520. Samuel Hieronymus Grimm, 1779, (Society of Antiquaries). This is a copy of the painting in Hampton Court. Dover castle in the top left hand corner.