Hannah Pitt Showell

Hannah Pitt Showell was born in Oldbury on 2 March 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. 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.

Hannah Pitt Showell

Hannah Pitt Showell

We have a large number of photographs of her after 1890 or so. Some are taken on holiday at Llanbrynmair with her four children. Her youngest and only son, Noel was born in 1888. 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 recalls staying in her grandmother’s household overnight in about 1940 whilst she still studied at Birmingham Art College. It was deemed safer to stay overnight in Hagley rather than Edgbaston during the Blitz.

See William Edmund Downing page for the full details of their family together.