Who was Hannah More?

A portrait of 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.

Hannah More's history

Hannah More was born in Fishponds, near Bristol, in 1745. Her father was a school teacher and set up two schools in Bristol - one for girls and one for boys. As a young adult, Hannah taught at the girls' school.

When she was twenty two years old, Hannah became engaged to William Turner, the owner of Tyntesfield's neighbouring estate of Belmont (now privately owned). She spent a lot of time on the estate and was inspired to write poetry by the sheer beauty of her surroundings.

Hannah's relationship with William eventually ended in heartbreak. He postponed their wedding three times over six years before eventually breaking their engagement altogether. As compensation, he offered her £200 a year which she originally refused but later accepted. This income allowed her to be independent, at a time when women rarely were, and left her free to pursue a highly successful literary career.

As well as a poet and playwright, Hannah More was also a campaigner for social reform, female education and the abolition of slavery. She set up twelve schools in the Mendip area and donated money for the founding of Kenyon College in Ohio, United States. Today, there are still several schools in the Bristol area named after her.

She died in 1833, aged 88.

" Around no noxious plant or flow'ret grows, But the first daffodil, and earliest rose: The snow-drop spreads its whitest bosom here, And golden cowslips grace the vernal year: Here the pale primrose takes a fairer hue, And ev'ry violet boasts a brighter blue."
- 'The Bleeding Rock' by Hannah More

The Bleeding Rock

'The Bleeding Rock' is Hannah More's most famous poem, inspired by the rocks on the Belmont estate.

It catapulted her to success in London's traditionally male-dominated literary circles and allowed her to become a member of the exclusive Bluestockings Society.

One of the newly reinstated poetry boards at Tyntesfield
Poetry board in the woodland at Tyntesfield
One of the newly reinstated poetry boards at Tyntesfield

Hannah More, Tyntesfield and the Gibbs

During her engagement with William Turner, Hannah spent a lot of time on the Belmont estate where she was inspired to write poetry. Together, the couple laid out planting and paths in Belmont's woodland and William arranged for Hannah's poems to be printed onto wooden boards and attached to trees along the paths.

When the Gibbs family bought Tyntesfield in the 1840s, nearly seventy years later, they found remnants of these poetry boards still attached to trees in the woodland. In around 1900, the family restored Hannah's poetry boards and reinstated them.

This year, we're recreating and reinstating Hannah's poetry boards, just as the Gibbs did over a hundred years ago. From 12 May, you can pick up a walking map from the Ticket Office and follow in the Gibbs' footsteps to rediscover Hannah More's lasting legacy at Tyntesfield.

 

Hannah More at Tyntesfield