William Godwin's Diary


Dioramas were popular mimetic exhibitions, generally considered an improvement on the earlier panorama. The illusion was created by rotating the device and shifting the strength of the lighting for a three-dimensional effect. On view at the time of Godwin’s visit were two scenes: The Interior of the Chapel of the Trinity in Canterbury Cathedral (which was particularly lauded by contemporary critics) and The Valley of Sarnen, in Switzerland.

One review stated, ‘By means of this invention, the finest scenes in nature may be presented to us with all the truth of reality, and the Inhabitant of a great capital may become as well acquiainted with the external appearances of the most romantic situations, as if he had ascended the Alps or Pyranees in quest of them… The Dean of Canterbury, who viewed it last week, could scarcely believe, at the sight of the Cathedral, that he was not in his own Chapel’.

See the Morning Chronicle, 7 November 1823 and The Times, 4 October 1823.