The Twickenham Museum
People : Artists and Painters

Thomas Carwitham
Decorative Painter

Thomas Carwitham was something of a polymath. Although remembered principally for his drawings and paintings he is also described as an architect. His interest in architecture led him to invent a device for drawing and proportional measurement which was manufactured by the instrument maker Thomas Heath (1698-1773), published as a joint treatise in 1723, and reprinted with an appendix in 1733: The description and use of the Architectonick Sector, And also of the Architectonick Sliding Plates. In an advertisement at the end of Euclid's Elements of Geometry, by Dr John Keil FRS, also published in 1723 he described himself as T Carwitham Painter of Twickenham.

No record of residence in Twickenham has as yet been identified. It may have been he who was baptised on 15 February 1688 at the Church of St Martin in the Fields, Westminster, son of George Carwitham and Alice. A younger brother, John, was baptised nine years later, on 17 January 1697, also at St Martin in the Fields. There may have been other sons and daughters born in the intervening years. Another brother, George Carwithan (sic), was baptised on 23 April 1701 at St Martin in the Fields.

The family probably came from the West Country, but a branch had arrived in London by the beginning of the 17th century: a James Carwitham aged 17, son of John and born in London was admitted to the scholars table at Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge, on 8 July 1635. He was a scholar between Christmas 1636 and Lady Day 1639. He had been at school at Swaffham, Norfolk, under Mr Hanky. Many of his contemporaries came from that part of the country.

CareerThomas is thought to have been a pupil of Sir James Thornhill whose style of drawing influenced his own. He may have received instruction or even employment from Thornhill when he set himself up as an architect in about 1719. Before this he may have studied at the Great Queen Street Academy, of which Thornhill became Governor in 1715. The Academy was founded in 1711 with Sir Godfrey Kneller as its first governor. Kneller built his mansion, later known as Kneller Hall at Whitton in 1710/11: Thomas could have been one of the household, enjoying Kneller's patronage: there was plenty of room, but this is speculation.

He was active between 1713 and 1733, his work being represented today in a number of collections. Perhaps the most remarkable of his drawings is Fantasy of Flight, an abstract group of several dozen naked figures in various poses and positions, floating or falling, suggestive of a study for a ceiling fresco. The drawing, from the Opie collection, can be seen at Tate Britain.

MarriageOn 31 July 1732 Thomas, giving his age as 30, married Iphigenia Phillipa Golding of Hampton, by licence, at Hanworth, Middlesex. He was then described as of St Pauls Covent Garden. Iphigenia was a daughter of Edward Golding (1675-1733) and Elizabeth nee Woodward (d1707). She had two brothers, Gemeriah (b1707) and Jesharelah (1703-60). The trio of names provokes curiosity, unsatisfied at present, but there was another sister, Elizabeth, perhaps named after her mother and a third Edward. Edward the father was the second of a dynasty of at least five so named. In 1698 he succeeded his father as Keeper of the Jocky Park (Middle Park), 370 acres of enclosed deer park forming the centre third of Bushy Park at Hampton Court. The family probably lived in a lodge there, the post was a sinecure and Edward's son inherited the post, the third in succession when his father died in 1733.

Contemporary documents mention Edward's work in the Park:

“Edward Golding, Keeper of the deer at Hampton Court, claims (£51-3-5d) for his disbursements in feeding several deer as per bill certified by Mr. Latton to be by his late Majesty's command” (Civil List Debt: Various Claims', Calendar of Treasury Books, Volume 17: 1702, pp1072-1078)

“Treasury reference to Mr. Wilcox of the petition of Tho. Simpson and Edw. Golding shewing that the pales and gates about Bushey and Middle Park on that side next Hounslow and round to Hampton Green are so bad as to be blown down by every gust of wind and let the deer out into the country; also that the wall from the Wick to Hampton Court is decaying; that two new deer pens are wanting and the present pens want repairing and new racks.” (Reference Book IX, p. 158, Calendar of Treasury Books, Volume 28: 1714, pp160-169)

The Goldings (earlier Goulding, Goulden or Gouldinge) were well established locally and probably of growing substance: one of the later Edwards, a parson, married Elizabeth, daughter of the Rev Nicholas Zinzano (1669-1735) who had acquired the house later known as St Albans, on the riverside, bequeathing it to his daughter on his death. This Edward acquired a property on Hampton Court Green later rebuilt as Chetwynd House. A possible descendant, Mrs Golding, was occupying Hampton Court House in 1818. The Zinzano (Zinzan) family have a considerable history.

a Twickenham connection?

There were Goldings in Twickenham at this time and earlier who may have been connected with the Hampton Goldings. The marriage at Hanworth nearby was perhaps an alternative to Twickenham where few took place during this period: there were none at all between 1711 and 1726 and only two in the calendar year 1732. The vicars were pluralists or Deans of Windsor, often absent, the vicarage rented out. However, why Hampton was not chosen is a mystery: was there family opposition?

The Twickenham family, earlier spelt Goulding or Gouldine, are first noted with the burial of a stillborn child of Thomas in 1660 and in 1663 Anne, his daughter (baptised on 21 April 1662). There were further baptisms: Thomas on 10 April 1664, William on 15 April 1666 and Francis on 24 May 1668. A “servant of Thomas Goulding” was buried on October 14 1669, unnamed and, on 16 November, Thomas, son of Thomas (Gouldin) was buried. 1678 was a bad year: on 26 May Hannah daughter of John was buried, followed on 5 June by Thomas and on 9 June by Christian, father unnamed. This last Thomas was perhaps one of two brothers and he left his widow to pay the rates for a further three years, after which there are no entries in Twickenham records until 1700 with the assessment of Thomas and Francis Golding as ratepayers. These were probably brothers and are recorded until 1734. Judith Golding, daughter of Thomas & Mary was baptised on 11 June 1713. The family are last recorded in Twickenham with the burial of Francis, probably a son, in August 1766.

No further information about Thomas and Iphigenia following their marriage is yet available: where they lived and died, with or without children. He stopped exhibiting in 1733, the year after his marriage; this may have been the year of his death.

John Carwitham

Thomas's brother John is recorded as a pupil at the Queen Street Academy in 1713, at the age of 16. Starting to exhibit in 1723 he is best known as an engraver: many of his views of New York, Philadelphia and Boston circulate today. However, like his brother, architectural design engaged his interest. He appears in the list of subscribers in William Halfpenny's “The Art of sound Building”, 1725 as “John Carwitham of Lond.Arc.Painter.”

He knew and worked for Batty Langley, providing most of the plates for Ancient Masonry, published in 1736. He made an engraving of Langley, published in 1741. Another Twickenham man, Robert Morris, engaged him to produce the frontispiece to An Essay in Defence of Ancient Architecture.

Treading in the footsteps of James Gibbs and Langley, in 1739 John published Floor-decorations of Various Kinds, Both in Plano & Perspective: Adapted to the Ornamenting of Halls, Rooms, Summerhouses which showed 24 designs for floor decoration. These were geometric layouts using squares, diamonds, hexagons and octagons in various arrangements. Some were flat two-dimensional patterns, while others produced complicated three-dimensional effects. Langley had published his own designs in 1736, but he had discussed designs for marble floors in 1729 in his book A Sure Guide to Builders, admiring the patterned floors of Thomas Scawen's grotto at Carshalton and John Robartes' Cold Bath in Twickenham: “…..these pavements are each compos'd of three different kinds of marble, as white, black and dove-coloured, which are so disposed of, that in the dark of an Evening they both appear as if they consisted of a number of long cubes, lying with angles upward, forming of ridges, like the roofs of houses…..” The cold bath at Twickenham survives in part in Radnor Gardens, today.

John may have died in 1741, but a record of his domestic life has yet to be sought.

Sources:Kathy White and Peter Foster, Bushy Park - Royals, Rangers and Rogues, Foundry Press, 1997 ISBN 0-9530245-0-4
Phillimore's Parish Register Series - Middlesex, Hanworth
Gerald Heath, transcriptions of Hampton Parish Registers, Richmond upon Thames Local Studies Library
Transcriptions of the Parish Registers for St Mary the Virgin, Twickenham
Tabitha Barber in British Watercolours from the Opie Collection, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, 1997
A F Kelsall, St Albans Hampton, Borough of Twickenham Local History Society Paper No25, 1972
John Venn, Biographical History of Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge 1394-1897, volume 1, p319
Hampton Court Wills:
1 August 1707, Elizabeth Woodward of Hampton left her grand daughter Elizabeth Golding, grandson Gemeriah, Fesherala, Ipizana (sic) Phillipa gold rings and £5, the rest to her daughter Elizabeth Golding. Probate was granted on 3 August 1708 to Edward Golding, husband of Elizabeth Golding, deceased. The will was witnessed by John Golding and others.
Eileen Harris (assisted by Nicholas Savage), British Architectural Books and Writers, 1556.1785, Cambridge University Press, 1990

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