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Hannah Pritchard

The memorial tablet to actress and singer Hannah Pritchard was moved to the triforium of Westminster Abbey in the late 1930s. The tablet of coloured marbles is by sculptor Richard Hayward and was sited on the wall of Poets' Corner near Shakespeare's memorial and the grave of David Garrick. It was removed so that Dr Samuel Johnson's bust could be put in this location, near his grave.

The fee for the monument was paid by Lord Nuneham and the inscription by Poet Laureate William Whitehead reads:

To the memory of Mrs Pritchard this tablet is here placed by a voluntary subscription of those who admired and esteemed her. She retired from the stage, of which she had long been the ornament, in the month of April 1768 and dyed at Bath in the month of August following in the 57th year of her age. Her comic vein had every charm to please, it was Nature's dictates breathed with Nature's ease, Ev'n when her powers sustain'd the tragic load, full, clear, and just, the harmonious accents flowed: and the big passions of her feeling heart burst freely forth, and sham'd the mimic Art, oft, on the scene, with colours not her own, she painted vice, and taught us what to shun; one virtuous track her real life pursued, that nobler part was uniformly good, each duty there to such perfection wrought, that if the precepts fail'd the example taught. W.Whitehead P.L.

Hannah was born on 28th October 1709, a daughter of Edward Vaughan, who came from Wales, and his wife Judith (Dun). She was baptised at St Martin in the Fields, not far from Drury Lane Theatre where she later performed. In 1730 she married William Pritchard (later treasurer at Drury Lane Theatre) and they had four children, Judith, Tamara Elizabeth, Hannah and John (who died in infancy). As well as their stage careers William and Hannah ran a lucrative dressmaking business. She acted with the young David Garrick and was considered the greatest Lady Macbeth of her generation. She was buried at St Mary's church, Twickenham in Middlesex.

The monument can be viewed in the new Queen's Diamond Jubilee Galleries at the Abbey.

It was re-dedicated at a short service held on 4th September 2018.

Further reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004

"Born to Please - Hannah Pritchard actress..." by A. Vaughan, 1979

Born

28th October 1709

Field

Musician; actor

Location

Triforium

Memorial Type

Tablet

Material Type

Marble

Hannah Pritchard
Hannah Pritchard memorial

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2018 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

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At different times of the day, or in different seasons, the light falling in the Abbey will light up something that you have walked past a million times and never seen before.

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Vanessa, Head of Conservation

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