Friday, 2 February 2018

Hannah - A Very Gracious Daleswoman

Did you know that the name Hannah means Grace. I have just read of the death of Hannah Hauxwell, who was indeed an exceedingly gracious woman. She was born in the Yorkshire Dales in 1927 on August 1st [which is 'Yorkshire Day'] and lived on the family farm - but her uncle and her parents all died relatively young, and so in 1961 aged just 34, this single woman had sole responsibility for her farm. 
And she just got on with it. Someone from the Yorkshire Post wrote an article about her incredibly simple lifestyle 'just me and the beasts'  - with no electricity, no running water, and just a cowpail to bath in. The bread was delivered to a secure spot 3 fields away - but she never complained. She looked after the animals, and worshipped each week in the nearby Methodist Chapel. Barry Cockcroft turned up with a TV crew- and found she was a natural personality for TV, with her cheery disposition, simple faith and matter-of-fact approach to life.
They made the most amazing documentary about her in 1973 Too Long A Winter. I remember it vividly- I watched it with my landlady on her black and white TV in my student digs. Low Birk Hatt Farm seemed to belong to another era, but how we all loved this determined woman.
Hannah was an instant star! More programmes followed, coach parties turned up, a local firm set up a fund to provide electricity for the farmhouse...You can read it all here.
She was invited to travel - the Queen's Garden Party, the Woman of the Year Luncheon, to travel on the Orient Express. She always seemed mystified that anybody should be interested in a simple countrywoman - and so appreciative of the kindnesses shown her [For me? No!...How thoughtful]
As Hannah got into her 60s, it became too much for her to manage the farm alone - so she moved into a little cottage in the village. Warm, and dry, and comfortable she still continued to make do and mend, and be as thrifty as ever - reading, listening to the radio, and playing hymns on her little harmonium. Sadly Barry Cockcroft died before she could make their final film together- it was to be about women who had made a difference [Edith Cavell and others]
Now the old meadow beside the farmhouse is left as a wildlife area - the Wildlife Trust has put up information boards and Hannah's Meadow remains to remind us of this indomitable lady. RIP Hannah - 'well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord' as the Good Book says.


  1. Oh what a wonderful story! She sounds an inspirational lady! I hadn't heard of her so thanks for sharing!

  2. ‘Hauxwell’. (I know you like correctness in spelling and grammar).

  3. Kezzie- these programmes were before you were born,so I am not surprised you do not know about her. Philip - thank you, typo corrected - you know me too well!

  4. I watched the first TV programme about Hannah when it was first broadcast and was totally enchanted by her. Also totally in awe of her character and strength, plus oddly envious of the simplicity of her life. It made me feel almost ashamed of how comfortable my own life was by comparison. I was living in Yorkshire near Ilkley at the time and loving every minute, so it touched a nerve with me. We were surrounded by small farms and stone cottages, most of which seemed to me to be exactly like Hannah's, basic, old fashioned, draughty and utterly delightful!

  5. I first knew of her through her book which I found in a charity shop. Very sad to hear of her passing x

  6. Yes very sad, but a good, if not hard, life lived. She will now be reunited with her beloved cattle. I used Hannah as a fine example of an 'Inspirational Woman' at my NWR Meeting a few years ago. They all agreed she was very special.


Always glad to hear from you - thanks for stopping by!
I am blocking anonymous comments now, due to excessive spam!