The Twickenham Museum
People : Landowners and Gentry

Sir John Fleming Leicester
Art Collector
1762 - 1827

Sir John Fleming Leicester

Sir John Fleming Leicester, the 5th Baronet was created Baron de Tabley in 1826. He was the owner of Tabley House in Cheshire, inherited from his father, Sir Peter Byrne Leicester who had commissioned John Carr of York to design the mansion, which was completed in 1767.

Thomas Hudson's Villa

A Visitor to Twickenham

For some reason he took a short lease on a house in Cross Deep, Twickenham in 1800. This had been Thomas Hudson's Villa. Here he could see Alexander Pope's Villa, much altered and extended by Sir William Stanhope. In 1807 it was bought by Baroness Howe and demolished. Turner painted the melancholy act of demolition and Sir John bought the picture to add to his collection of Turner works. He became known for his sustained patronage of Turner and the contemporary English school of painting, building picture galleries both at Tabley and his London residence in Hill Street, Mayfair.

In 1813 he returned to the area, leasing a house on the riverside at Hampton known as St Albans.

A painter himself, he was not above turning his hand to verse:

Emblem of man, who, after all his moaning
And strain of dire immeasurable strife,
Has yet this consolation, all atoning--
Life, as a windmill, grinds the bread of Life.
- The Windmill

He was MP, successively, for Yarmouth, Heytesbury and Stockbridge. Marriage came late: in 1810, at the age of 48 he married Georgina Maria Cottin (d1859), daughter of Lt Col Joseph Cottin. There were two sons of the marriage.

further reading:

Dr Dongho Chun, Public Display, Private Glory: Sir John Leicester's gallery of British Art, Journal of the History of Collections, vol. 13, no. 2, 2001.
Dictionary of National Biography

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