Hanbury Hall: A Woman's Place?

Portrait of Lady Georgina Vernon in a purple dress, showing the back of her head as she is looking away from viewer.

To commemorate 100 years since the Representation of the People Act, we’re redressing the balance and bringing to light 300 years of untold stories.

From Mary Vernon who established Hanbury’s beautiful gardens to Auda Letitia Vernon who helped to secure Hanbury's future with the National Trust; A Woman’s Place? will uncover the remarkable lives of these women and their place in history.

" We all move forward when we recognise how resilient and striking the women around us are "
- Rupi Kaur

Emma Vernon (1754-1818)

Emma was the first and only woman to inherit Hanbury Hall, however, under English law, once married everything Emma owned became the property of her husband. 

Emma’s father took steps to ensure Hanbury Hall stayed in the Vernon family, but control of the estate remained with her husband throughout his lifetime. After a separation, a secret affair, a scandalous divorce and subsequent remarriages, Emma was nearly 50 before she was able to return to her childhood home, following the death of her first husband.


Lady Georgina Vernon (1840-1928)

Lady Georgina took an active interest in the welfare of women and children and used her wealth and status to help others. She organised for nurses to be employed for the care of Hanbury’s villagers and supported the founding of Red Cross groups and District Nursing Associations in the area.

Lady Georgina created a convalescent home for injured soldiers in one of the family properties and assisted in the in the training of local women in domestic work. She was also president of a home in London to teach at-risk girls the skills needed to gain employment. 


Auda Letitia Vernon (1862-1957)

Despite being the eldest sibling, as a woman, Auda couldn’t inherit Hanbury Hall.  However, this did not stop her from being an active part of village life and a passionate advocate for the future of the Hall.

Auda had interests in nursing and the WI, as well as travelling abroad whilst working with the British Women’s Emigration Association, supporting women to seek a new life and career abroad.

It was said of her by those who knew her that ‘…if she had been a man, she would have been a Major General.’