Little Elevations: Hannah More's legacy at Tyntesfield
Inspired by the life and legacy of Hannah More, Tyntesfield welcomed award-winning Bristol poet, Holly Corfield Carr, as poet-in-residence in 2018.
In summer 2018, as part of the National Trust's Women and Power programme, Holly Corfield Carr launched her residency with a new book of poems written onsite at Tyntesfield and hosted a series of woodland writing workshops.
What was 'Little Elevations'?
Holly Corfield Carr's residency, 'Little Elevations', responded to Hannah More's recommendation that a woman sees the world from 'a little elevation in her own garden', leaving the 'distant prospects' to the wealthy gentleman busy exploring and exploiting the wider landscape.
Addressing how feminists, environmentalists and poets might consider how power might be distributed today, Holly explored the site of the 'little elevation' as the ideal position, a place from which we can prioritise expertise, cooperation and care.
As part of Holly's residency, the National Trust published 'Indifferent Cresses', a book of Holly's poems, field notes and pressings made onsite in the Tyntesfield plantation.
Taking its title from Hannah More's complaint that women's writing is sometimes as celebrated as a salad, 'Indifferent Cresses' is described by the poet as a 'commonplace of undergrowth' and comes complete with a magnifying aperture and pockets so that the reader might make the book their own.
Copies of 'Indifferent Cresses' were given to participants of the workshops led by Holly, and were also distributed to schools across Bristol in the spirit of Hannah More's commitment to education for women and girls in the city.
A bit about Holly Corfield Carr
Holly Corfield Carr is an award-winning poet and art writer based in Bristol. Her work has been commissioned for museums and galleries across the UK as well as for an orchard, an eighteenth-century crystal grotto and a passenger ferry called Matilda. She has performed her work on BBC Radio 4 and at the Royal Albert Hall for the Proms on BBC Radio 3.
Before her residency at Tyntesfield in summer 2018, she had previously been poet-in-residence at the Wordsworth Trust, Spike Island, the Curfew Tower and the University of Bristol. She received an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors in 2012 and won the Frieze Writer’s Prize in 2015.
Speaking about the project, Holly said, 'I am as thoroughly thrilled as I have been troubled by the invitation to work with the feminist legacy of Hannah More at Tyntesfield. More set up schools for girls across Bristol and campaigned for improvements and access to women’s education throughout her life but she celebrated women’s power as a limited and very local thing.
Alongside writing a sequence of new poems onsite in the woodlands where Hannah More walked, planted trees and witnessed the iron-rich geology of the Wraxall area ‘bleeding’ in the rain, I’m so excited to be able to invite – and elevate! – some of my favourite readers and writers and the students of Hannah More Primary School from central Bristol to join me in the woods to read and write on-site, performing what Hannah More might have recognised as a ‘root house’ of new writing from the woodland floor.'
" The poem, for me, is what Hannah More calls ‘the little elevation’; it’s portable and public and it tilts us to look closer at the spot we’re looking out from."
Who was Hannah More?
Bristol-born Hannah More (1745-1833) was one of the most influential women of her day. A successful poet, playwright and campaigner, she was a champion of social reform, female education and the abolition of slavery.
You can find more information on Hannah More's history here: