Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

Colin's Little Known Facts: Beaumont, Essex and Leicestershire

Sir George Beaumont, talented painter and keen patron of the arts, had strong connections with both Essex and Leicestershire.

Sir George was born in Great Dunmow, one of many attractive small towns in Essex, a few miles away from such lovely places as Saffron Walden, Thaxted and Finchingfield.

He was, however, a member of the famous Beaumont family, one of whose members was Francis Beaumont of Grace Dieu, near Whitwick. Francis, a dramatist, had a long standing collaboration with John Fletcher. In their day, Beaumont and Fletcher were as prominent a partnership as Gilbert and Sullivan, or Rodgers and Hammerstein, of Lennon and McCartney.

In 1804, Sir George started to rebuild Coleorton Hall. Many were the painters, poets and novelists who stayed at the house. These included Lord Byron, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Constable, Walter Scott, Robert Southey and William Wordsworth.

While Scott was at Coleorton, he visited Ashby-de-la-Zouch, and was so impressed by the romantic castle ruins that he used them as a location for his famous novel “Ivanhoe”.

Sir George was himself a talented landscape artist. He also collected paintings, and on his death bequeathed his art collection to the nation. This resulted in the foundation of the National Gallery in London.