<< YCBA Home Yale Center for British Art Yale Center for British Art << YCBA Home

YCBA Collections Search

IIIF Actions
Cooper, Anne, 1763?-1804.

Journal of a tour down the Wye, MDCCLXXXVI.

Great Britain, 1786 May 29-June 1.
Physical Description:
1 v. (48 p.) : ill. ; 27 cm.
Rare Books and Manuscripts
DA670.W97 C66 1786+ Oversize
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
View by request in the Study Room [Request]
Note: The Study Room is open by appointment. Please visit the Study Room page on our website for more details.

Copyright Status:
Copyright Not Evaluated
Archives & Manuscripts
Anne Cooper (baptized 18 August 1763, died 20 September 1804) was the daughter and only child of William Purnell of Dursley (1737-1805). She married Robert Bransby Cooper on 6 May 1784. He was a Deputy Lieutenant of the County of Gloucestershire, and M.P. for Gloucester, from 1818 to 1830. In 1807 the Cooper family embarked on another Wye Tour, with the poet Robert Bloomfield, whose "The Banks of Wye", 1811, is in part dedicated to "Robert Bransby Cooper ... and all the members of his Family".
Selected exhibitions: "Paul Mellon's Legacy: A Passion for British Art" (Yale Center for British Art, 18 April-29 July, 2007).
Another manuscript copy of the present journal exists at Chepstow Museum (Wales). The Chepstow copy appears to contain the same text, accompanied by 21 views in sepia wash. Precedence of the manuscript copies has not been established.
Inscribed: This journal & the miniature of my Purnell inclosed [not present] to return to my dear son or daughter Bransby, July 1803.
Bound in contemporary gilt-tooled morocco.
Manuscript diary, in pen and brown ink, kept by Anne Cooper of Dursley, during an excursion down the River Wye from 29 May to 1 June, 1786. The fair copy text is neatly written in a single hand, perhaps the author's, whose name (signed "A. Cooper") appears at the foot of the manuscript title page. The diary is interspersed with 12 full page watercolor illustrations, also likely the work of Anne Cooper. The first 41 pages contain the diary text; the final 7 pages contain an index to the drawings, with descriptive text.
The travelling party, as noted in the diary's second paragraph, consists of "Mr. Howman, Mr. Dryer, Mr. Lovich Cooper [the diarist's brother-in-law], my father [William Purnell], Mr. [Robert Bransby] Cooper & myself [Anne Cooper]". They set off on 29 May 1786, departing Dursley by horse and carriage, arriving at Ross, where they explore the town. The next morning they board their river vessel, which is "small, but filled up with no less convenience than neatness". During their first day on the Wye, the party sees Wilton Castle, Goodrich Castle, and Coldwell, where they stop to dine, having "cooled our wine in the spring which murmured at our feet". While dining, they watch a pair of fisherman with their coracles. The party then climbs Yat Rock, where Anne notes, "the ascent was steep but not impracticable even to a female, who urged by curiosity and attracted by the promise of a glorious view, undertook the expedition with ardour". Cooper and her party arrive at Monmouth by evening, where they take lodging in the principal inn. As they continue down the Wye the next morning, the diarist finds the river below Monmouth much less attractive: "As we proceeded, the scenes became more bustling; several iron works smoked beneath the hills, numerous barges were lading at a wharf, and cottages were thickly scattered around ... I sigh'd again for the frowning rock and sombre wood". At her arrival at Tintern Abbey, however, Anne Cooper's mood changes to rapture: "The long rang'd columns, the gothic windows, the overshadowing ivy excited an emotion for which mere veneration is too tame a word". The party continues down the river, stopping to climb the rocks at the Twelve Apostles (where Anne decides her "strength was not equal to the attempt"), before ending the day at Chepstow, where they visit the castle ruins. The final day's travel is made by foot and by chaise, as the party passes through the woods above the Wye valley, to Newnham.
The watercolor illustrations are inserted at matching points in the text. They are all within oval frames of uniform size (15.5 x 20 cm). The descriptive index to the illustrations (7 p. at end) also includes two additional small watercolor drawings (the first depicting "the snail-like fisherman with the coracle on his back", the other a diagram of a bend of the Wye at New Weir). The full page illustrations are as follows (titles from index): 1. View of Pope's "Heaven-directed spire" from the walks of the Man of Ross -- 2. Goodrich Castle at the distance of half a mile -- 3. View of Bishop's Wood and Coppard's Wood -- 4. View of the parsonage & church of Welch Bicknor -- 5. Part of Coldwell rocks at the bend of the river -- 6. The rocks at the New Weir -- 7. Rocks at Sally Grove roving -- 8. Tintern Abbey from the meadow on the east -- 9. Tintern Abbey from the river -- 10. Part of the ruins of Chepstow Castle with the famous wooden bridge -- 11. Martin's Tower, Chepstow Castle -- 12. View from the high grounds near Windcliff.
Subject Terms:
Castles & palaces -- Great Britain.
Castles -- Great Britain.
Chepstow Castle (Chepstow, Wales)
Cooper, Anne, 1763?-1804 -- Diaries.
Cooper, Lovich.
Cooper, Robert Bransby, 1762-1845.
Monmouthshire (Wales) -- Antiquities.
Monmouthshire (Wales) -- Description and travel.
Purnell, William.
Ruins -- Great Britain.
Tintern Abbey.
Wye, River (Wales and England) -- Description and travel.
Wye, River (Wales and England) -- Navigation.
Wye, River (Wales and England) in art.
Travel literature -- Great Britain -- Wye, River (Wales and England) -- 1825.
Landscape drawings.
Travel sketches -- Wales -- Monmouthshire.

Paul Mellon's Legacy : A Passion for British Art (Yale Center for British Art, 2007-04-18 - 2007-07-29) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

If you have information about this object that may be of assistance please contact us.