Scarborough has three castles – the genuine article which dates back to Roman times, and two Victorian shams which have their own unique appeal.
The Scarborough brewer Thomas Jarvis built The Towers, designed by William Baldwin Stewart in 1866, immediately below the gatehouse of the medieval castle on the promontory that divides Scarborough’s two bays.
He later added the Castle-by-the-Sea, which overlooks the North Bay, at the other end of the little street that became Mulgrave Place, and in 1876 leased it to the Leeds artist, Atkinson Grimshaw (1836-1893).
Atkinson Grimshaw was the son of a Leeds policeman, an ex-railway-clerk who without formal training executed canvases of dusk and moonlight scenes, mainly of coast and harbour settings, with considerable commercial success.
One of his first and finest Scarborough works is ‘Sic Transit Gloria Mundi, the Burning of the Spa Saloon’ (1876), which was probably commissioned by Jarvis and was painted in great haste for the sake of topicality but not publicly exhibited. It is now in the Scarborough Art Gallery [http://www.scarboroughartgallery.co.uk], along with ‘Scarborough Lights’ (c1877), ‘Burning off a Fishing Boat at Scarborough’ ) and ‘Lights in the Harbour, Scarborough’ (1879).
Atkinson Grimshaw reputedly influenced Bram Stoker into setting Dracula in Whitby.
He’s also regarded as a possible influence on Frank Meadow Sutcliffe, the Whitby photographer.
He returned to Leeds in 1879 after getting into financial difficulties, and went on to paint numerous scenes in Hull, Liverpool, London and Glasgow Docks.
The Castle-by-the-Sea is a notably welcoming bed-and-breakfast hotel, one of the pleasantest places to stay in Scarborough: http://www.thecastlebythesea.co.uk.
The Towers is a private residence and not open to the public.
For details of Mike Higginbottom’s lecture Survivals & Revivals: past views of English architecture, please click here.
For details of Mike Higginbottom’s lectures on seaside architecture, Away from it all: the heritage of holiday resorts, Beside the Seaside: the architecture of British coastal resorts, Blackpool’s Seaside Heritage and Yorkshire’s Seaside Heritage, please click here.