Hannah Pritchard
Born: 28 Oct, 1709
Field: Musician; actor
Location in the Abbey: Triforium
Type of memorial: Tablet
Type of material: Marble

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. 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 28 October 1709, a daughter of Edward Vaughan 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 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 cannot be viewed by the public until the new Jubilee Galleries open in mid 2018 but a photograph can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library.

Further reading:

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004.

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

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