Hannah Pitt Showell

Hannah Pitt Showell was born in Oldbury on 2 Mar 1855. She was the eldest of thirteen children of Walter Showell and his wife Sarah (née Hartill). Her father was a successful brewery owner in the town of Oldbury.

William Edmund and Hannah Pitt Downing (née Showell), Llanbrynmair, 1905

William Edmund and Hannah Pitt Downing (née Showell), Llanbrynmair, 1905

She married a wealthy maltster William Edmund Downing on 30 Jul 1879 and they lived first in Handsworth and later in Elm Lodge in Hagley. Her four children were:  May (b 1880), Daisy (Twin) , Mary (b 1883) and Noel (b 1888).

We have a large number of photographs of her after 1890 or so. Some are taken on holiday at Ratlinghope with her four children. Both the 1881 and 1891 census show her with her young family respectively in Church Stretton and Llandudno, presumably on holiday. This reflects the Downing’s longstanding relationship with Wales and the Borders.

Six letters (1899-1902) written to her by her son, Noel, survive sent from his boarding school in Whitby, Mulgrave Castle.

Latterly, she reportedly shunned the outdoor life, especially at the Beacon, espoused by her husband. Certainly memories of her from the 1930s are that she was a rather austere Victorian lady. She died on 7 Oct 1941 at the age of 86.

Pamela Downing. her granddaughter, recalls staying in her grandmother’s household overnight in 1940/41 whilst she still studied at Birmingham College of Arts. It was deemed safer to stay overnight in Hagley rather than Edgbaston during the Blitz.