TURNER: Northern Exposure is the title of an important travelling exhibition showing 13 paintings by JMW Turner from his first tour of the north in 1797.

The exhibition runs until October 13 at the Granary galley in Berwick, from October 19 to January 5 at the Tullie House Museum in Carlisle, and from January 18 to April 18 at the Mercer Art Galley in Harrogate.

Turner’s first three month tour of Northumberland, the Lake District and Yorkshire really made him as a painter, and the exhibition includes his views of Holy Island, Dunstanburgh Castle and Norham Castle, on the River Tweed, which was his first big hit as an artist.

The exhibition is curated by Professor David Hill of Leeds, a world renowned Turner expert.

So, naturally, we’ve been badgering him about Newby Lowson, who, as Memories 433 told, lies in a rather overgrown grave in Witton-le-Wear churchyard which is a Grade II listed building because of its “historical interest” due to Lowson’s connections with the artist.

The professor has kindly sent lots of information.

Newby Lowson was baptised in Darlington on September 5, 1773. He was the only son of a wealthy father who owned much of the Harrowgate Hill end of town. He inherited the estate in 1781 and soon sold it, which is why Lowson Street runs off North Road. By 1788, aged only 15, he had bought Witton Hall, a medieval home complete with chapel, in Witton-le-Wear, where he was to live until his death in 1853.

Newby was an art lover. He read and studied widely; he got up at the crack of dawn to walk around Witton making sketches. He became acquainted with Turner – they were of the same age and interests – who may have stayed with him at Witton in 1797.

Art historians are far more interested in the two men’s three-month tour of Europe in 1802. This was the first time Turner had visited the Continent.

The pair bought a cabriolet – a two-wheeled carriage – for 32 guineas in Paris and hired a servant for £5-a-day, out of which he arranged all their travels, and off they went through France, Switzerland and Italy, sketching and studying on their way.

It may be that Newby’s close friend and hunting companion, William Harry Vane, the 3rd Earl of Darlington who lived in Raby Castle, had been persuaded to sponsor the grand tour.

At the end of the tour, Turner gave Newby a watercolour which hung for many years in Witton Hall, and the two kept in touch. In 1817, the artist stayed once more at Witton Hall and commenced one of his most famous paintings for the Earl of Darlington: Raby Castle beneath a showery sky set in a dramatic landscape with the hunt chasing across it. This painting now hangs in Baltimore in the US.

It is therefore for these connections that Newby’s grave has received listed buildings status.

But there could be more – and it could even be lurking in your cupboard or hanging on your wall.

In 1894, Matthew Richley, the renowned Bishop Auckland historian, wrote about Newby’s connections with Turner in the Auckland Times and Herald newspaper. Tantalisingly, Richley said there were still three direct connections to the pair in the area.

Newby died a bachelor in 1853 and his possessions were sold. Richley said that the watercolour, which Turner had given Newby after the 1802 tour, had ended up hanging in the drawing room of Bishop Auckland solicitor GW Jennings. Today, the painting’s whereabouts are unknown.

Secondly, Richley said that Newby’s pocketbook which he had kept during the 1802 tour, had been bought by Witton-le-Wear magistrate George Pears for 18d. It was Newby’s detailed diary of notes and sketches – perhaps some by Turner himself – and today its whereabouts are also unknown.

And thirdly, when Newby was on his early morning sketching walks in Witton, he was regularly given a glass of fresh milk by an old woman who lived at the west end of the village. As a thank-you, Newby gave the woman a painting he had done to which his friend, JMW Turner, had put the finishing touches.

Richley said that on the death of the old woman, the painting had been sold to a canon of Durham Cathedral for £60, but today its whereabouts are also unknown.

So, if you have a painting or a pocketbook which some distant relative has left you with a cock-and-bull story about it being connected to the most famous of British artists, please let us know and we’ll try and get Fiona Bruce and her art detectives to find out whether it is a fake or a fortune.