Evacustes A. Phipson: A little-known but prolific water-colour painter

Our Hammersmith & Fulham Archives volunteer writes:

Edward Arthur Phipson was born on 9th February 1854 at King’s Norton, near Birmingham. His family were engaged in local manufacturing and he seems to have received a good education and possibly trained for a time as an architect. He adopted the name ‘Evacustes’ himself, its etymology presumably being from the Ancient Greek for ‘ready obeyer or listener’.

Phipson was something of a rebel with strong ideas concerning art and society. He believed in ‘the rights of men to live without the bondage of the monetary system in a world where a universal type of speech might bring about a universal world of love’. He was a keen socialist, a subject on which he was later to write a number of pamphlets. In 1881 he used a legacy of £16,000 in an attempt to establish a single tax colony in Australia and was later involved in another unsuccessful co-operative community at Topolobampo, Mexico.

He was a prolific watercolour artist and there are several large collections of his works in England and abroad, many of them in public libraries. Hammersmith & Fulham Libraries have more than 60 of his watercolours of local scenes, bequeathed by Samuel Martin, first Librarian to the Vestry (later the Metropolitan borough) of Hammersmith 1889-1919. (There are also some 340 in Croydon and 7 in Streatham).

It is possible that Phipson was attached to this area through connections with William Morris who lived at Kelmscott House, Upper Mall. It was there in 1892 that Phipson addressed Morris’s Hammersmith Socialist Society on ‘Art and Socialism’.

Towards the end of his life Phipson lived in Croydon supporting himself by selling his paintings, often to the local library for very small sums. He died at Winchelsea in 1931. Here are four of his watercolours owned by H&F, all of which were painted c. 1905.


Lower Mall, Hammersmith

Lower Mall, Hammersmith

Lower Mall, Hammersmith. The buildings shown, (Kent House and 11/12 Lower Mall) are still standing although the river wall and walk have changed. Kent House was probably built in 1762 and is a fine example of mid-eighteenth century architecture. The adjacent cottages are earlier and form part of what was once know as ‘Little Wapping’.


Sudbury House

Sudbury House

Sudbury House, Hammersmith Road. This building, which was demolished in the early 1970s, was an interesting example of late eighteenth century architecture with a fine porch. It stood next to Nazareth House Convent on the south side of Hammersmith road, In the 1870’s the house was occupied by John T Peacock, the notable collector of succulent plants.

The Black Lion

The Black Lion

The Black Lion, Hammersmith. The Black lion has stood on this site for over 200 years. It was here that Thomas Millwood’s body was brought in 1804 after he had been shot in Black Lion Lane having been mistake for the ‘Hammersmith Ghost’. The tower in the background is that of St Peter’s Church.


North Side Hammersmith Broadway

North Side Hammersmith Broadway

North side of the Broadway, Hammersmith. None of these buildings survive, although the George Inn was rebuilt in 1911 on approximately the same site. Hammersmith Metropolitan Line Underground station was moved in 1908 from a site 150 yards to the north to its present location which is immediately behind the buildings shown here.

The four watercolours illustrated here were reproduced as prints by the Curwen Press in the 1980s.  Paper size 240x350mm. Sets of the prints are still available for sale from the Archives. Set of 4 prints: £10.00 plus £2.50 postage. (Cheques should be made payable to Hammersmith & Fulham Archives). Archives and Local History Centre, The Lilla Huset, 191 Talgarth Road, London W6 8BJ. 020 8753 3850.
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1 Response to Evacustes A. Phipson: A little-known but prolific water-colour painter

  1. Anonymous says:

    Edward Arthur Phipson married Elizabeth Frederica Larkin on 11 Oct 1888. They had two daughters Ilithyia in 1892 and Anna in 1894. The descendants of Anna live in the USA.

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