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HALL, Hannah (1780-1863) – her tragic death at Wickhamford in 1863

Hall Family background

Hannah Viner married Charles Hall at the Church of St John the Baptist, Wickhamford on 6th November 1802.  He had been born in Mickleton, Glos., in about 1790.  She was born in Wickhamford in 1780, the daughter of John and Sarah (née Finch) who had married in the parish on 3rd April 1774.  This couple went on to have nine children baptised in Wickhamford between 1778 and 1796.

At the first census to record parishioner’s names, in 1841, Charles was living in the main village street with his wife, Hannah.  He was recorded as a labourer and both of their ages were given as about 60 years.  When more details were taken for the 1851 census, Charles was aged 71 and Hannah 70 and he was still working, as an agricultural labourer.  They were living in one half of a pair of cottages at the Manor end of the village street in the now combined property known as ‘Corner Cottage’.  At the 1861 census, they were still at the same address and, at 81 years of age, he was still working as an agricultural labourer.  Hannah’s health had deteriorated by this time and under the column recording occupations, she was noted as ‘unable to work’.  She had given birth to six children between 1803 and 1814.

Hannah Hall’s untimely death

Two years after the 1861 census, Charles was still at work as a ‘day labourer’, even though he was now 82.  By doing this he was keeping himself and Hannah from being dependent upon parish relief.  Hannah’s condition had become so bad that, by 1863, she was reported to be bent almost double, but managed to continue with housework and cooking.

Tragedy stuck on the afternoon of Thursday, 10th November 1863.   Charles Hall was out at work and Hannah was making his supper.  She was preparing dumplings for his meal and, when putting them in the pot, her dress caught fire.  A woman passing the cottage saw smoke issuing from the crevices of the door and raised the alarm.  By this time all of Hannah’s clothing was alight and, when the fire was put out, only her stays and stockings remained.  Her body was badly burned, but she lived for about one hour before dying. An Inquest was held and a verdict of ‘Accidental death by fire’ was recorded.

The circumstances of Hannah Hall’s death were reported in The Worcestershire Chronicle of 16th November 1863.

Aged 83, Hannah Hall was buried in Wickhamford churchyard on 17th November 1863.  Her husband, Charles, lived on for a further 16 months and was buried on 15th March 1865, aged 85. No gravestone marks their resting place.   All of their children attained adulthood and four were buried in Wickhamford – Ann, also known as Hannah, in 1829, aged 20, after giving birth to an illegitimate son, who only lived 13 days; George (1835, aged 32); John (1881, aged 76) and Thomas (1885, aged 70).  

Other fires in Wickhamford

In an era of open fires for heating and cooking, other blazes were reported in the village in the local newspapers.  On 9th March 1872, three cottages were destroyed in a fire.  At old cottages near the Sandys Arms, the blaze was blamed on unattended children who had been left in charge of one of the properties.  No one was injured, but the fire engine that was called from Evesham, could not save the old thatched cottages.  This was reported in The Worcester Journal of 16th March 1872.

On the evening of 24th March 1928, Sellick Davies, Liberal candidate in a local election, was passing through Wickhamford with other members of his party, when they noticed a fire had broken out at a wooden bungalow.  Mistakenly thinking there was a woman inside he attempted to gain entry and received some burns before being pulled away.  The fire spread and four bungalows were reported as destroyed before Evesham Fire Brigade extinguished the flames.  The exact location of this incident was not mentioned in the newspaper, which was reported in The Western Daily Press of 26th March 1928.

Tom Locke – August 2021

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