Neil Holland Artist and Architect Rooted in the Sussex Landscape

Neil Holland – South Stoke, watercolour

This week I am in the company of the celebrated Sussex Architect and Artist, Neil Holland. Neil has been busily preparing for his latest selling exhibition Neil Holland – Spirit of Sussex at the Oxmarket Contemporary gallery in Chichester which opens on Monday 10th October.

Neil Holland is an essentially English artist working in the Romantic tradition. His landscape watercolours capture what the artist Paul Nash described as the ‘genus loci’, the spirit of the place, ‘a reality more real’.

Neil grew up in Worthing and his love of Sussex, her enfolding Downs and the Weald have never left him. He attended Architectural School in Leeds where he found his love of the vernacular placed him at odds with his modernist tutors. Modernism in the Post-War period, and more recently, has argued that place and identity do not matter. But Neil’s work as an architect and artist speaks persuasively to the contrary celebrating the importance of context, place, to our English identity. He has been described as a contextualist. His work is modern in the vernacular. When I ask him what would be at the heart of his artistic and architectural manifesto he replies “Place is everything”.

British art over the centuries has been inculcated by influences from the Continent and America. But in the late 18th and early 19th centuries the British tradition of watercolour painting reached its heights influencing the international art world. Artists like JMW Turner and Thomas Girtin were exposed to the genius of John Robert Cozens through the informal academy of Dr Thomas Monro.

Neil Holland in his studio

It is in this medium that Neil has chosen to paint restoring his sense of Englishness and place. He cites the Norwich School painter John Sell Cotman as a particular inspiration. Cotman wielded his watercolour brush boldly depicting landscapes with an increasingly brilliant palette. The graphic qualities of Cotman’s work speak to this artist-architect.

Talking about his paintings Neil comments “I’ve always been interested in landscape, how a building weathers into a landscape.”

His work breaks down the landscape into layers in a contrasting way. The palette and tone he employs references his experience of designing buildings taking our eye through the composition and narrative of the picture. These qualities can be seen in his watercolour titled South Stoke. These scenes are about story telling, a memory, not just the depiction of a moment in time.

The exhibition is a celebration of this modern Sussex artist and architect – a contextualist working in the vernacular. It runs until 29th October 2023. To find out more visit

“Prices for pocket watches have risen dramatically in recent years”

A late 17th century silver and tortoiseshell key wind pair cased gentleman’s pocket clock watch, by Nathaniel Barrow

It was Charles II who made the waistcoat fashionable and caused watches to be made differently so that they would fit in a pocket, hence the name pocket watch. They became rounded and flatter with no hard edges and glass was fitted to protect the dial.

These early watches were handmade with verge escapements like the late 17th century silver and tortoiseshell key wind pair cased gentleman’s pocket clock watch by Nathaniel Barrow of London. It had a gilt fusee movement with verge escapement and pierced and engraved balance cock striking on a bell. Nathaniel Barrow is recorded as a London watchmaker. He was apprenticed in 1653/54, made free of the Clockmakers Company in 1660/61 becoming an assistant in 1676 and master in 1689. He died in 1700. The watch’s silvered champlevé type dial had black Roman hour numerals and a single hand. The outer case lacked a section of tortoiseshell and was silver piqué inlaid with a scene depicting the sun, a tree and buildings. It is unsurprising that this fine pocket watch had been owned by Tom Robinson, the past chairman of The Antiquarian Horological Society and author of numerous horological books. It realised £3800 in a Toovey’s specialist watch sale.

It was not until Thomas Mudge invented the lever escapement in 1755 that watches attained a level of accuracy of within a minute a day. This new level of accuracy saw the widespread introduction of the minute hand. By the 1820s the lever escapement had become common. Watches were the preserve of the very wealthy. The Industrial Revolution allowed for the standardisation of machine made watch parts enabling watches to be made more quickly and less expensively so that by the mid-19th century pocket watches were being made in large quantities for the majority of men across Britain, Europe and America.

A late Victorian 18ct gold half hunting cased gentleman’s pocket watch

Demand is growing for these later watches too as the fashion for pocket watches returns. The 1896, Victorian, 18ct gold keyless wind half hunting cased gentleman’s pocket watch, with its jewelled lever movement, was hallmarked in Birmingham in 1896. Together with its 18ct gold curblink watch Albert chain and T-bar it realised £3100 at Toovey’s.

Prices for pocket watches have risen dramatically in recent years.

Perhaps it’s time to change your watch. Toovey’s Director, Tom Rowsell, is always pleased to offer advice whether you are considering acquiring or selling watches in this booming market.

Drama and Beautiful Scenes at The 2023 Goodwood Revival

Rupert |Toovey on the Lavant straight as the heavens opened

We arrived at the 2023 Goodwood Revival and found ourselves basking in the extraordinary late Summer sunshine. Despite the un-expected weather everyone was in their Goodwood finery and once again we stepped back into the golden age of motor racing.

Over the road The Splined Hub were displaying an exquisite, restored Jaguar E-type, chassis 18.

Oliver Winbolt said “So this is the 18th ever right-hand drive coupé, October’61, so although that’s quite a bit later than the early left-hand drive cars it’s a very early right-hand drive car.”

I ask Oliver if it was made for the UK market and he replies “Yes, we bought the car in Beverley Hills in California but actually it came from Stamford in Lincolnshire originally.”

He continued “At The Splined Hub we bring low volume performance car build process into the restoration of classic Jaguars, it’s as simple as that.” There is nothing simple about these processes. Oliver explains “The restoration began with a detailed photographic record taken so that, once restored, the car would be as true and accurate to the original manufacturing intent as possible. This early body presented a challenge in terms of accuracy and originality because the early shell shares surprisingly few panels with the later ‘production’ E-types. The engine, gearbox and rear axle have been completely rebuilt using the original fixings and components where ever possible.” The interior, chassis and electrical systems have also received this attention. Oliver concluded “It’s all in the attention to detail.”

Holly, Oliver and Alison Winbolt of the Splined Hub with the chassis no.18 E-type

The lucky steward of this remarkable car will take possession of it after Oliver and his team have rigorously tested it.

Lotus, the Porsche 911 and the remarkable Carroll Shelby were all celebrated at this year’s Revival along with an extraordinary array of Ferraris.

Sunday at the Revival brought slightly cooler and changeable weather and the heavens opened before and during one of the Revival’s most prestigious and closely competed races, the Royal Automobile Club TT Celebration. It’s a one-hour, two-driver race for closed-cockpit cars like the mighty AC Cobras and Lightweight Jaguar E-types raced at Goodwood in 1963 and 1964. The wet conditions favoured the E-type with William Paul and Andy Priaulx bringing their number 78 E-type home for a well deserved win in what was an eventful race with many of these hugely powerful cars struggling for grip, even on the Lavant straight, and leaving the track.

This extraordinary celebration of period motor racing leads the world here in the heart of Sussex!

Ploughing Match & Agricultural Show

Showing in the ring

This week I am with Rowan Allan who together with Felicity Elliott is the Honorary Secretary of The West Grinstead & District Ploughing & Agricultural Society. The society is returning to its roots in the Parish of West Grinstead for the 2023 Annual Ploughing Match and Agricultural Show which is returning to Priors Byne Farm on Saturday 16th September.

I am always excited to attend the ploughing match.

Rowan Allan says “It’s great to be returning to Priors Byne Farm. John and Alison Ford and their team will give everyone a warm welcome – it’s one of our most popular venues and the agricultural community is looking forward to being able to come together once again.”

I comment on the extraordinary stewardship amongst our district’s farming community. Rowan comments “Balancing our heritage with the needs of the natural environment and food production is perfectly possible.”

The West Grinstead and District Ploughing Match and Agricultural Society has been holding shows for over 150 years. It seeks to re-connect town and country and educate the public.

Ploughing at the West Grinstead and District Plough Match and Agricultural Show

Rowan says “The ploughing match provides a shop window for people to engage with what farming and the countryside are really about.”

It’s a great family day out with the ploughing competition, cattle and sheep shows, licenced bar, fun fair, trade stands and local produce, terrier racing, open clay shooting competitions, tug-of-war, gun dog scurry, tractor and threshing machinery and even a ferret race, there is so much to enjoy.

Since 1871 The West Grinstead and District Plough Match and Agricultural Society has been promoting best practice in the local agricultural community through its prizes and awards. Today that also includes a bursary programme which provides financial support to enable and encourage young people to take up careers in the agricultural industry.

Our landscape is part of our nation’s heritage and identity and it is wholly dependent on the life given to it by our farmers who richly deserve our thanks.

I will be supporting Rowan and the team at the 2023 West Grinstead and District Plough Match and Agricultural Show at Priors Byne Farm, Bines Road, Partridge Green, RH13 8EQ on Saturday 16th September 2023. Entrance is just £8 per person online in advance or £10 on the day with children under 14 free. It’s going to be a fantastic family day, I hope to see you there!

For more information contact Rowan Allan at H. J. Burt Steyning through or go to to buy your tickets.

Tim Harding Collection of Motoring Photographs Part 2

Toovey’s are delighted to announce the second Sale of The Tim Harding Collection of Motoring Photographs. The collection was amassed over a lifetime of collecting by Tim Harding, a motoring historian who had an encyclopaedic knowledge of early vehicle marques.

Tim Harding died in 2018 and part of the collection was sold in October 2021. Such was the size of the collection that it had to be split across two auctions.

The collection comprises photographs in all formats from full plate to ‘box brownie’.  The images, well over 20,000 in number, cover the period from the very earliest days of motoring to the early post war era. Most are loose but some are framed and mounted, and there are also ‘family albums’ compiled in period.

Whilst mainly focused on cars, the collection also covers commercial vehicles, cyclecars, motorcycles, racing cars, motorsport generally, trials, rallies and racing including Brooklands. Some lots will cover period garages and workshops, motor accidents, as well as postcards of motoring interest.

The auction will be held on Wednesday 15th November 2023 at 12 noon.
Viewing for the sale will be held on:
Mon, 13th November 2023: 10:00 to 16:00
Tue, 14th November 2023: 10:00 to 16:00
Wed, 15th November 2023: 09:00 to 13:00

Bidding is available at our rooms and live via the third party website, commission bidding is also available.

The online catalogue will be available on our website from 4th November 2023.