Mrs Ridout and the Coombe Express


By Frank Brooks

It is recorded that Mrs Ridout operated as the proprietress of a carrier business, conveying goods between the village of Coombe Bissett and ‘The Shoulder of Mutton’ Inn, Salisbury.

Frank Brooks records that he would meet her by Harnham Bridge when she was leaving the town, ‘… as she always made a stop at the old and picturesque inn called ‘The Swan’ for a last refresher for herself and the donkeys, generally, I think, from the same jug. I often walked with her to Coombe and the pace was such that at times I was able to walk backwards and draw, hence the name she was so well known by…’

A watercolour of this scene, dated 1872, is known as are a number of pencil sketches of the donkeys and the cart. Several copies with minor variations were also made in oil.

This picture has been purchased with generous financial assistance from the V & A Purchase Grant Fund and the Salisbury Museum Events Group, together with donations from museum members.

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