Evie Jessop - A Talented Artist?


It was not unusual for affluent Victorian ladies to pursue serious hobbies like music or fine art especially painting. Some years ago we were fortunate to be contacted by a family whose ancestor, Evie (Evelyn) Jessop, reflected just such an interest. The result was the donation of several watercolours to our archive, including landscapes painted near Hill Farm, Wacton Road, Forncett St Peter. An example of her work entitled "The Avenue" is shown below.

Evie was born in Brighton in 1869 and by 1901 her father had died and Evie's family had moved to Blofield in Norfolk. References to Mrs Jessop and Miss Jessop occur in the Blofield Deanery Magazine from January 1899 till April 1903. These references concern mainly contributions/donations, some named (e.g. Colchester Asylum for Idiots, Church Expenses, Eastern Counties Asylum for Idiots), and Miss Jessop's interest in the Church of England Temperance Society, in which she was apparently a leading light. Whilst the titles of such organisations would be considered to be very inappropriate now, there is no doubt that Evie and her ilk had their hearts in the right place.

By 1911 Evie was living at Hill Farm in Forncett with her mother, Maria Martha Jessop, and her brother, John, who was a poultry farmer. Subsequent research indicates that Evie was painting in the locality in June and November 1915 and possibly earlier. However, by 1921 the family had moved to Buxton and John was working as an accountant for Jarrolds printers. They finally moved to live in Unthank Road in Norwich and Evie died (age 87) in Norwich in 1956. How long Evie continued to paint is not known but her watercolours of Forncett provide welcome images of the parish in the early 1900s.