During the seven years Helen Allingham lived near Witley, she painted most of the simple timber-framed cottages that stood along the lanes near her home. Certain favoured cottages appear in many watercolours, as Allingham painted them from different angles or else disguised them with the addition of rampant climbing plants.
This 'Surrey Cottage' received the same treatment as it forms the subject of other paintings, including After Four Centuries illustrated in H. Allingham and S. Dick, Cottage Homes of England, London, 1984, between pp. 64-5.
The majority of the Allingham's rustic neighbours who lived in these dwellings were either agricultural labourers or workers in the nearby brickyard. The Mercers occupied this cottage. Sarah, a widow who took in laundry, lived there with her son, daughter and a lodger. This cottage also caught the eye of Birket Foster's son, William who photographed it in 1884.
We aregrateful to Annabel Watts for her help in preparing this catalogue entry.