Wednesday, 9 April 2014

H is for Hannah Twynnoy

Let's get started with the local dialect words.  Do you know what hereright means?  What is a hudmedud? What does hurkle mean? The answers are at the end of this post.

So back to Hannah Twynnoy  .... I can hear you saying 'who?'  Well, to learn her sad story we are off to Malmesbury which is 25 miles north of Trowbridge.  The evidence for this surprising tale can be found on one of the gravestones in the Abbey graveyard.
Malmesbury Abbey


Who died October 23rd 1703
Aged 33 Years
In bloom of life
She's snatched from hence
She had no room
To make defence
For tyger fierce
Took life away
And here she lies in a bed of clay
Until the Resurrection Day

Hannah's tragic claim to fame is that she is recorded as being the first person in England to be killed by a tiger!

Hannah Twynnoy (1669/70 - 1703) worked as a barmaid in the White Lion Inn in Malmesbury.  The tiger was one of the animals that formed a travelling menagerie which had set up in the pub's large back yard.  A plaque was installed in Hullavington Church (about 5 miles away) soon after her death and it recorded the details leading up to her death.  Her connection with Hullavington is not clear as there are no Twynnoys listed in the records and the plaque itself disappeared during the last century.  However, the wording on the plaque was recorded by a local historian during the Victorian era:

To the memory of Hannah Twynnoy. She was a servant of the
White Lion Inn where there was an exhibition of wild beasts,
and amongst the rest a very fierce tiger which she imprudently
took pleasure in teasing, not withstanding the repeated
remonstrance of its keeper. One day whilst amusing herself
with this dangerous diversion the enraged animal by an
extraordinary effort drew out the staple, sprang towards the
unhappy girl, caught hold of her gown and tore her to pieces.
source =

I was shown the location of the gravestone by a young schoolgirl who knew all the details of this story.  She was most excited by the mystery surrounding Hannah's final resting place.  A gravestone and burial plot in the Abbey churchyard would have been expensive and beyond the means of a barmaid.  Poetic epitaphs were popular at this time and would have required the additional expense of a poet but there is no record of who paid all these expenses. Her family is not known and it is assumed (based on Hannah's social status) that they would not have been able to afford the high costs of such a burial.  It is possible there was a mystery benefactor or that the Abbey itself financed the burial, although the records contain no evidence to confirm or refute either possibility.
A simple ceremony to mark the 300th anniversary of the death took place in 2003, when every schoolgirl in the town named Hannah who was younger than 11 placed a flower on the grave. Her name continues to lives on in the town - in 1993 a new residential road was named Twynnoy Close. 
To finish, here are the answers to the dialect words:
  • hereright - immediately
  • hudmedud - a scarecrow
  • hurkle - to crowd together
I'll be back tomorrow with the letter I.


  1. What an interesting and strange story. Thank you for sharing. x

  2. As terrible as this may sound - that cemetery is beautiful!

    AJ's wHooligan in the A-Z Challenge

  3. This has been one of the most fun letter H posts I've read! Chilling and creepy - but super entertaining :)
    -visiting from the A-Z challenge-

  4. this was the most interesting and fun post I read all day! LOVE IT keep going and I love your website Teresa visiting from the following sitesFangirl Next Door, Quackin Over Disney, Stormy's Sidekick Geek On!