The amount of interest in Historic Churches is evidenced by a quick search of Facebook Groups. You may be surprised that in less than a minute I clocked up just under fifty thousand members in just four groups: Historic Churches, Church Cathedrals Historic Buildings, Churches and Cathedrals of Britain and Churches, Castles and Graveyards. I'm pretty sure that's just touching the surface. The fascination with and common love for these historic buildings seems endless, resulting in a constant flow of visitors year on year.
Old engravings of these historic buildings are also popular with print collectors especially as these prints often captured a moment in time from the past. When it come to historic churches for me the work of William Spreat deserves a mention. His work in lithotint is exceptional and his prints now somewhat scarce are well worth collecting, when you can find them.
Spreat was born in 1816 in Exeter, Devonshire the son of Willian Spreat, bookseller. He is recorded at Premier Place, Mount Radford in 1842, with business premises at 263 High Street from 1841 where his father had his book selling premises.
Above: North Molton Church, Drawn on Stone by W. Spreat. Printed by C J Hullmandel for Picturesque Sketches of the Churches of Devon.
In the 1840's William Spreat dominated the Exeter scene. One of the earliest of his publications was the "Picturesque sketches of the Churches of Devon" as it records "Drawn from Nature and on Stone. The work was originally published in eighteen parts with 74 lithographs and was completed in 1842.
This work contains some of the most beautiful and evocative views of Devonshire capturing the atmosphere of a now long forgotten time. Exceptional engravings include: Sidbury Church, The Old Church at Honiton, Pinhoe Church, Upton Pyne, Cadbury and Chittlehampton Church, just a handful of the seventy four plates. The original lithotints on india paper were laid on a heavier wove paper within the original book.
You can see more prints from William Spreats Picturesque Churches of Devon HERE