Founded in 1884 by Louth Naturalists',
Antiquarian and Literary Society
Registered Charity No. 1145436
A Local Independent Museum
Quality Assured Visitor Attraction
The Louth Panorama is an all-round view of the town and district as seen from the top of the spire of St James's parish church as on a summer’s day in the 1840s. It shows the pattern of streets and the market place, with a roofscape little changed today.
The detail of activity in the foreground is amazing and reflects the life of the town. Look for horse-drawn vehicles, ladies shopping, a funeral, new garden designs, and hay stacks in the town (fuel for horses). Can you find the Town Crier, boys bowling hoops, the Workhouse and the carpet factory with a tall chimney? And how many windmills are there? No wonder it is rated among the best panoramas in Europe.
Round the column in the gallery are replicas of the original sketches from which the Panorama was painted. Compare buildings on the Panorama with what they look like today on the computer-generated flythrough of three of the streets.
See below for how the Panorama was made by William Brown, housepainter, newspaper reporter, nonconformist and self-taught artist. Brown also created composite paintings of exotic animals and of inventions, and a delicately detailed Pictorial Pilgrim’s Progress as aids to Sunday School teaching. Examples are on display in this gallery.
In spring 1844 the spire of St James’s church was scaffolded to enable repair of the top of the spire which had been damaged by lightning. William Brown, then 56, decided to climb the ladders tied inside the scaffolding to stand on the top platform and make a series of sketches of everything he could see below and to the surrounding horizon. This took a number of visits during the summer, and he made notes of activities in streets and fields.
It took three years to transfer the sketches to oil painting on two linen canvases 9ft. by 6ft. (2.75m by 1.8m) suspended from poles. They were exhibited to the public in Louth Mansion House in 1847, and again in 1856 when he had added the Town Hall and Corn Exchange built three years before. When Brown died in 1859 the paintings disappeared.
They were sold in a furniture sale at Sutton-on-Sea in 1895 but not seen again until 1948 when they were found in a cottage near Alford. The paintings were bought, restored and framed by Louth Borough Council with financial aid from The Art Fund and hung in the Council Chamber of Louth Town Hall. They were restored again in 2007, and now have pride of place in the former Sessions House, the present home of Louth Town Council.
The illustrated book of the full story of ‘William Brown and the Louth Panorama’ is on sale in the Museum Gift Shop.
These are the original pictures which now hang in the Sessions House Eastgate Louth
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