The Cranbrook Colony
The Cranbrook Colony was a group of artists who settled in Cranbrook, Kent from 1854 onwards, and painted scenes of everyday life. Their themes, of everyday life that they saw around them in the rural area, including typically scenes of domestic life, childhood, family, work, religion, old age and death.
The group started with the painter Frederick Daniel Hardy who liked the countryside around Cranbrook and settled there in 1854. He was joined there after three years by his mentor, Thomas Webster, their studio being an old house in the High Street, of which Hardy occupied the basement.
The group evolved in a rather loose and informal manner. Other artists who soon joined Hardy and Webster were Frederick Hardy's brother George Hardy, John Callcott Horsley, and George Bernard O'Neill (who married Horsley’s cousin Emma Callcott), with George Henry Boughton and Augustus Mulready frequently visiting. The artists and their families formed strong bonds and were active in their local community, playing a philanthropic role in Cranbrook
Throughout his time at Cranbrook Thomas Webster lived at Webster House in the High Street where on 23rd September 1886, he died. A memorial to him by Hamo Thorneycroft was erected, subsequently, at St. Dunstan's Church, Cranbrook
One of the most avid collectors of their work was Wolverhampton tin toy manufacturer Sidney Cartwright. During his life he amassed a large collection of art which was later bequeathed to the Wolverhampton Art Gallery. As a result the gallery has one of the country’s largest regional collections of Cranbrook Colony paintings.