Thomas Scott Elgood

There are three watercolour paintings of Leicester scenes by Thomas Scott Elgood (1845–1912). Thomas was one of the ten children of Samuel Elgood (d. 1874), a wool merchant, and his wife, Jane Octavia, the daughter of George Shirley of Mackworth, Derbyshire. One of his brothers was George Samuel Elgood (1851–1943), an artist famous for his paintings of landscapes and gardens. Thomas and George, along with the painters Wilmot Pilsbury and John Fulleylove would go out together and sketch the Leicestershire countryside and its buildings.[1]

Two of Thomas’ watercolours depict The Newarke which lies at the heart of Leicester’s oldest area on the east bank of the River Soar not far from Leicester's city centre. They were painted five years apart, one in 1890, the other in 1895. The third painting is of the Old Soar looking toward a church and it was painted at the earlier date of 1881. This last one in particular gives us an idea of how this area might have looked before it was built up during the twentieth century and shows what could be the church of St Mary de Castro in the background with its spire (which had to be dismantled in 2011 for safety reasons).

John Flower

There are also four photographs of pencil drawings by prominent Leicester artist John Flower (1793–1861). Flower was born in Leicester in 1793 to John and Mary Flower and was baptised at the church of St Mary de Castro. John Flower senior was a wool-comber, as was his father, and the Flower family had owned the old Castle Mill on the River Soar for many years. When John Flower senior died, his son was left to make his own way and became apprenticed to a framework-knitter called Benjamin Withers in 1806.[2]

His interest in drawing caught the eye of one Dr. Alexander of Danet’s Hall who encouraged him to pursue his skill. He was patronised by Miss Mary Linwood and sent to London, probably in 1815, where he spent a year working under the landscape painter Peter de Wint, who provided his services at no cost. Returning to Leicester, Flower established himself as a landscape artist and drawing teacher in the city, and became known as ‘The Leicester Artist’.[3] Flower’s artwork is an important record of life in Leicestershire during the nineteenth century.

Of the four photographs of Flower’s drawings in Views of England and Wales, three are of scenes in Knighton. Two of them depict the church of St Mary Magadalen (one drawn in 1835, the other in 1836) and the third a thatched building and a man on top of a hayrick (1835). The fourth is of three houses on Evington Lane, also drawn in 1835.

Many of John Flower’s works, including these four, can be viewed online at Image Leicestershire.[4] Flower’s book of lithographs titled Views of Ancient Buildings in the Town and County of Leicester can be viewed online at University of Leicester Special Collections Online.[5]

[1] Baskervyle-Glegg, D., 'Elgood, George Samuel', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography <https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/62311> [accessed 10 March 2023].

[2] Bennett, J. D., ‘John Flower 1793-1861’, The Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society 42 (1966-1967), p. 76.

[3] Ibid., p. 76.

[4] Image Leicestershire, The Art of John Flower <https://imageleicestershire.org.uk/exhibitions?WINID=167845504636> [accessed 10 March 2023].

[5] Flower, J., Views of Ancient Buildings in the Town and County of Leicester (1825) <https://specialcollections.le.ac.uk/digital/collection/p15407coll6/id/18410/> [accessed 10 March 2023].