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A new poetry walk inspired by Bristol poet, Hannah More, opens at Tyntesfield

14th May 2018

Categories: Latest News

A new self-led poetry walk inspired by Bristol poet, Hannah More, has been opened in the woodland at Tyntesfield near Bristol by conservation charity, the National Trust.

Image - Hannah More by F Reynolds ©Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, UK. Purchased with the assistance of the subscribers, 19.13. Bridgeman Images

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. For six years, she spent much of her time on Tyntesfield’s neighbouring estate, Belmont (now privately owned and not open to the public), and was inspired to write poetry by the sheer beauty of her surroundings.

More was a regular guest at the Belmont estate through her relationship with the owner, William Turner. During their courtship they laid out the planting and paths in the woodland, part of which is now on the Tyntesfield estate, and Turner arranged for More’s poems to be painted onto wooden boards and attached to trees along the paths. It is these boards that the National Trust team at Tyntesfield have replicated to form the new poetry walk through the woods at Tyntesfield.

‘Hannah More’s poems provide a fascinating glimpse into the early career of this fiercely intelligent and passionate poet,’ says Tyntesfield curator, Sue Hayward.

‘It’s wonderful to think that the natural beauty of the woodland was a crucial source of inspiration for one of Bristol’s greatest writers. We’re thrilled that our visitors will be able to explore the beauty of the Tyntesfield landscape through the poems written here.’

More’s relationship with Turner eventually ended in heartbreak. The pair were engaged but Turner postponed their wedding three times over six years before eventually breaking the engagement altogether. As compensation, Turner offered More £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 her literary career. Her poem, ‘The Bleeding Rock’, inspired by the rocks on Turner’s estate, catapulted her to success in London’s traditionally male-dominated literary circles and she became a member of the exclusive Bluestocking Society.

‘Evidence indicates that Hannah More’s poetry boards were still in situ when William Gibbs purchased the estate in 1844,’ says Alex Smith, project manager for the National Trust.

‘We know that in around 1900 the Gibbs family arranged for the boards to be restored and reinstated in the landscape. By reinstating them at Tyntesfield today, we hope our visitors will again be inspired by Hannah More and by the beautiful landscape.’

Image - Visitors reading one of the new poetry boards in the woodland at Tyntesfield © National Trust / Alana Wright

Visitors to Tyntesfield can now follow in the Gibbs family’s footsteps to find Hannah More’s poetry boards through the woodland at Tyntesfield and read newly rediscovered poems unearthed by the team’s research. These poems may never have been published in print in More’s lifetime. Walking maps can be picked up from the National Trust Ticket Office.

Alongside the new poetry walk, and as part of the National Trust’s 2018 ‘Women and Power’ programme, the team at Tyntesfield have welcomed a poet-in-residence to the estate. Award-winning Bristol based poet, Holly Corfield Carr, has been exploring Hannah More’s legacy through a brand new collection of poetry, due for publication later this year. Holly will also be running a series of writing workshops with guest poets across the summer.

More information about Hannah More, the new poetry walk, and Holly Corfield Carr’s work is available on www.nationaltrust.org.uk/tyntesfield

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