Thomas Hosmer Shepherd was the most famous of the three Shepherd artists, father and sons. 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 were prosperous, with the family moving to comfortable new houses, the life of artists was always precarious. Towards the end of his life, George Sydney was helped by small donations from the New Society of Painters in Water colours, while Thomas Hosmer's oldest son, Frederick Napoleon, died in the infirmary of St. Luke's Workhouse, in City Road.

Thomas Hosmer Shepherd and his family of seven children, might have starved but for the patronage of Frederick Crace. Crace was a celebrated interior decorator, most famous for the interior of Brighton Pavilion. His superb collection of maps and views of London, now in the British Museum, includes drawings and water colours from the whole of Shepherd's career. They were usually of streets and buildings which Crace, as Commissioner for Sewers, knew were to be swept away, although these particular Almshouses were to survive until 1869, ten years after Crace had died. This watercolour of Paddington Almshouses was one of several almshouse drawings in different parts of London, which Shepherd made for Crace.

He must have drawn it while sitting on Paddington Green, directly below what is now Westway, and looking across a graveled Harrow Road to the north-west corner of what became North Westminster Community School site in 1980.

Adapted from 'Shepherd's London', by J. F. C. Phillips, Cassell, 1976, from which much of this information comes.

Plan of the Almshouses and Infant Schools.

This small plan, dated 1853, shows the Almshouses and Infants Schools. The school for older pupils was on the corner of Margaret Terrace.


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