The Shepherd Family of Artists
To return to the Stone. George I succeeded to the throne of Britain on 1st August 1714. Therefore this stone marks the opening of the Georgian Period and the development of government by parties headed by a Prime Minister. Perhaps it was erected in the early part of the year, before Queen Anne died, making it a Queen Anne stone, but this would be to quibble. If it is Georgian, it must be one of the earliest Georgian stones in the world.
Thomas Hosmer Shepherd was one of the three Shepherd artists, father Thomas Hosmer, son Thomas and nephew George Sydney. George Shepherd and his wife were in France when Thomas was born, but came at once to England where the child was baptised at St Luke's, in the City Road, at the age of six weeks. George Sydney Shepherd, the second son, was born eight years later. George Shepherd made topographical and architectural drawings of the expanding London and his sons, Thomas and George Sydney, followed suit. Thus there were three Shepherd artists, but the most famous is Thomas. He produced set after set of water colours and aquatints which were later engraved and published in books. While some periods of his life were prosperous, with the family moving to comfortable new houses, the lives of artists were always precarious. Towards the end of his life, George Sydney Shepherd had to be helped by small donations from the New Society of Painters in Water colours, while Thomas Hosmer's oldest son, Frederick Napoleon, was to die a pauper in the Infirmary of St Luke's workhouse, City Road.
Thomas Hosmer Shepherd and his family of seven children, might have starved but for the patronage of Frederick Crace, who was a celebrated decorator, most famous for the interior of Brighton Pavilion. The Crace collection of maps and views of London, now in the British Museum, includes drawings and watercolours from the whole of Shepherd's career. They were usually of streets and buildings which Crace, as Commissioner for Sewers, knew were about to be swept away. This watercolour of Paddington Almshouses was one of several almshouse drawings in different parts of London, which Shepherd made for Crace, but these particular Almshouses were to survive until 1869, ten years after Crace had died.
Shepherd must have drawn it while sitting on Paddington Green, directly below what is now Westway. He looked across a graveled Harrow Road to the north-west corner of the present North Westminster Community School site, where we re-erected it. It will be erected once again on the flats to be built on the site.1