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Thursday 19th December 2019The Blanchland Murder

Belmount Farm is a building I have painted three times now. Two paintings feature a window and one the entire farm, see below. This gently crumbling building was the site of a mysterious and extremely bloody murder, exactly 120 years ago to New Year's day 2020. 
 

 
On New Year's Day 1880, the 'Blanchland Murder’ took place.  Robert Snowball, the master of the house, was hit in the head from behind, so brutally that his teeth were knocked out and the hammer was half embedded in his skull. This is his gravestone.

 

 

No one was ever convicted of the murder, though his elderly father, housekeeper Jane Barron and her beau were all questioned. Jane was accused and acquitted, there was very little evidence, and she left Belmount Farm to take a job in the Northumbrian borders.
 
This shocking murder has left, for me, no residue of trauma in the building – and I was blissfully ignorant of all this at the time that I visited the farmhouse. All three paintings are available as prints and two as originals.

Posted on December 19th 2019 on 10:03am
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Thursday 09th July 2015'Belmount Farm' Watercolour and the 'Blanchland Murder.'

 Belmount Farm
 
This original watercolour co
mes with a gory and murderous story alongside of it. I waited 30 years to paint Belmount Farm - I needed to capture this gently crumbling building in the right light and weather conditions. Despite the adders I always saw in the grass when I called there, and the remote location near Huntstansworth, I am drawn to the building. It has an almost continental feel to it, and a warmth, and I can imagine myself living there.
 
So I was surprised to read that on New Year's Day 1880, an extremely bloody murder took place there - the 'Blanchland Murder.'  Robert Snowball, the master of the house, was hit in the head from behind, so brutally that his teeth were knocked out and the hammer was half embedded in his skull. No one was ever convicted of the murder, though his elderly father, housekeeper Jane Barron and her beau were all questioned.
 
This shocking murder has left, for me, no residue of trauma in the building – and I was blissfully ignorant of all this at the time that I visited the house and as I was painting the watercolour. I feel it’s a peaceful painting and landscape, despite this bloody blot on the history of the house.

Posted on July 09th 2015 on 11:59am
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