Lacking local timber and workable stone but with an ample supply of clay, Leicester is a city built of brick. Watts would have seen and visited the houses of the manufacturers and professional classes springing up in the Newarke and around the Cathedral; there are fewer private houses now, but most of the buildings survive and thrive as lawyer’s offices. Watts was deeply concerned with the relief of poverty; she would also have visited the increasing number of plain brick-built worker’s cottages to north and east of the city.
Ironically, the land in West Field was owned by two substantial estates, one of which was Danett’s Hall, Watt’s birthplace. The last owner, a Dr Noble, is immortalised in name by Noble Street. The Hall and Orchard had disappeared by the time of Watt’s death in the mid-C19th, replaced by a grid-iron of Victorian terraces.