(click image to enlarge)
In the early 1830s, the Reverend Nathaniel John Hollingsworth, Rector of St Nicholas, West Boldon, County Durham, commissioned the leading Newcastle architect, John Dobson, to make some improvements to the ancient rectory. The previous incumbent, Henry George Liddell (grandfather of Lewis Carroll’s Alice), had already added a wing to the rear of the building. The new improvements comprised ‘a beautiful stone front, having two hexagonal projections’ and ‘new stables, coach-houses, and other out-offices, and much improved … garden and adjoining grounds’ (Eneas Mackenzie and Metcalf Ross, An Historical, Topographical and Descriptive View of the County Palatine of Durham, Newcastle upon Tyne: Mackenzie and Dent, 1834, page 72).
John Wilson Carmichael worked closely with John Dobson, and his watercolour was probably intended to show Boldon Rectory before the architect began work on it. The rectory was demolished in 1970 to make way for a private housing development that stands on Rectory Green, and visual evidence of its appearance is scant, so the present work is of particular interest.