Lydia Hoare: getting to know a Lady of Killerton

See a painting of Lydia Hoare on display inside Killerton House

Part of the Hoare banking family, Lydia grew up at Mitcham Grove in Surrey. She and Thomas met in 1804, when Lydia visited the Acland's Holnicote Estate with her parents. They married in 1808, and enjoyed a life of music, travel, art and good works.

Lydia and music

Lydia was very musical, singing and playing the piano from childhood. 
A portrait at Killerton shows her playing her John Broadwood piano, one of the first six octave pianos ever developed. She also played an organ installed at Killerton on her marriage.
Lydia often travelled into Exeter with Thomas when he went to quarter sessions there, going to hear concerts by the Harmonic Society.

Travelling the world

Thomas and Lydia loved to travel, going on sketching trips to the Lake District, Ireland and Scotland. 
In the summer of 1814, after Napoleon’s capture, Thomas, Lydia and their son Tom went to the Peace Congress in Vienna. They thoroughly enjoyed the social whirlwind. 
Lydia learnt Italian, went to hear music by Mozart and others, and delighted in discovering and wearing the fashions of Paris and Vienna. She also spent much of her time with Thomas.

Sailing on the Lady of St Kilda

In the 1830s the family began sailing, travelling to Ireland and northern Spain to sketch. 
In 1836 they went by their yacht, Lady of St Kilda, to Rome for three months. Lydia met the Danish-Icelandic sculptor Bertel Thorwaldsen there, playing piano and singing for him. She later named the book of songs she played from The Traveller. 

Later years

Lydia’s religious principles grew stricter with age, and she could be disapproving of dancing, playing cards and reading books other than the Bible. However, she also found new inspiration to play her organ, taking lessons from Exeter cathedral’s organist Samuel Sebastian Wesley. 
Lydia’s organ, Broadwood piano and music are still at Killerton, and you can see and enjoy them today.