The Betsy Foster Paintings

The story behind the Foster family paintings and their links to Rodborough…..
The Besty Foster Paintings were donated by the Canadian relatives of Betsy Foster and are currently held in the collections of the Museum in the Park, Stroud.

Betsy (nee Womack) Foster and her husband William, a seed merchant and nurseryman originally from Doncaster lived in the Stroud area from around 1836. William Foster died in 1877 and Betsy who died in 1888 are buried on Stroud Cemetery, Numerous news articles can be found in the local press of the time that help chart their life in and around Stroud.

William Jnr, his son, also a nurseryman, brought Spillman’s Court, Rodborough with 6 acres in 1873, he cultivated the land growing plants, flowers, and ornamental trees. Stroud and Rodborough at the time was growing fast and a hive of industry although it proved to be a hard time for the Foster family. William’s neighbour Walter Harper developed the brickworks just off Spillman’s Pitch near the current Brickfield Terrace. A long and bitter dispute erupted as pollution from the brickworks damaged William’s plants and trees. Although William eventually won the court case it was too late for his business, and declared bankrupt he and his family decided to emigrate.

In 1894 William, his wife Augusta and their family packed their bags and left Spillman’s Court for a new life in Canada. The family consisted of 8 children, William W the eldest son was 18 and a pupil at Wycliffe Collage, Fanny the youngest daughter was aged 8 when they booked their passage to Vancouver.
When the family left, they took with them several beautiful paintings thought to be painted by William’s mother and his sister, both called Betsy Foster. The pictures were given to the family to remind them of their home, landmarks, and memorable locations in and around Stroud, they must have been looked at many times over the years.

William died in Canada 1904. His sister Betsy, a spinster, who worked as a Governess and we believe painted many of the paintings, died in Stroud in 1903 and was buried in Stroud Cemetery. The last member of the Foster family to live in Stroud was their sister Mary who passed away in 1917.

A hundred and thirty years later 32 of the original paintings have been returned to Stroud by the kind relatives of the Canadian Foster family. They consist of views of the inside of their homes, Rodborough Fort, Thames and Severn Canal, Capel’s Mills, Doverow Hill, Folly Lane, Rowcroft, Russell Street, Kings Street, London Road, Haresfield Beacon and many still life paintings.

Remembering Rodborough have selected several of the paintings and reproduced them as cards which are for sale at our various events in Rodborough, Stroud. The proceeds will help fund our many local history activities.

If you would like to buy any cards, please contact The selection is shown below.