The Interior of Pittville Pump Room, Cheltenham
Lithograph by J. S. Templeton (1832), after Robert Kitton

This print, the earliest known picture of the interior of the Pittville Pump Room, is part of a large collection of material relating to the history of Cheltenham that has been generously donated to The Wilson Art Gallery & Museum (administered by The Cheltenham Trust) from the Estate of the late Elaine North. The print, and many other items from Elaine’s collection, are on display in The Wilson’s Open Archive until the end of March 2020. It is reproduced here by kind permission of The Wilson Art Gallery & Museum.

Neither the artist nor the lithographer was local to Cheltenham, though both contributed drawings to John Britton’s History and Antiquities of the Cathedral Church of Worcester (1835).

The scene

The print shows the interior of the main hall of Cheltenham’s Pump Room, looking west, around the time that the building was officially opened in 1830. The artist has given the setting a human focus, with a father encouraging his daughter to look through the windows to the main gardens leading down to the lake, whilst two other visitors rest at the back of the room. The spa’s pump itself can be seen in its former location on the west side, through the columns to the right of the main hall. The ceiling and dome were restored in the 1960s, after many years during which the fabric and decoration of the Pump Room had been allowed to deteriorate.

The artist: Robert Kitton (1808-80)

The original sketch was made by Norfolk architectural artist (and architect) Robert Kitton (1808-80). Regarded as a gifted amateur, he exhibited his architectural sketches and drawings in Norwich art clubs from a young age, and later in life exhibited in London, though never gaining national recognition. At around the same time as his sketch of the Pump Room interior, he prepared a set of twelve drawings for John Britton’s History and Antiquities of the Cathedral Church of Worcester (1835). After a failed venture with an architectural and building firm in London in the late 1830s, he returned to Norwich and practised as an architect on commercial and ecclesiastical buildings. His lasting work remains his church architecture in and around the City of Norwich.

Section from Robert Kitton’s “Worcester Cathedral: View in N. Aisle of Choir”
from in John Britton’s History and Antiquities of the Cathedral
Church of Worcester (1835)

The lithographer: John Samuel Templeton (1799-1863)

John Samuel (also Samuelson) Templeton was known in the early 1830s as an accomplished lithographer and painter of landscapes, and from the late 1830s concentrated on portraits, while continuing his work as an lithographer. Born in Glasgow, he trained at the Dublin Society’s Drawing School before moving to London, where he remained for the rest of his life. By 1839 he was the Head Drawing Master at University College in Gower Street. He and his growing family were dogged by financial worries, and on several occasions he appeared before the Court for the Relief of Insolvent Debtors, though found time to write his Guide to Oil Painting (1845, which saw over forty editions), as well as a Guide to Miniature Painting in 1856, later augmented by Alfred Henry Wall. But eventually, after the death of his wife, he was admitted to an almshouse managed by the Charterhouse charity in Smithfield, where he died, aged 64, in 1863.

Portrait of G. J. P. Scrope by J. S. Templeton (1848) (Wikimedia Commons: archive)
John Simpson