Ann Hatton memorial, Swansea

button-theme-womenbutton_lang_japaneseAnn Hatton memorial, Civic Centre, Swansea

swansea_ann_hatton_portraitNovelist Ann Hatton (1764-1838) and her husband William ran a bathing house in this vicinity from 1799 to 1806. In 2014 a blue plaque was placed on the Civic Centre to commemorate her. The copy of her portrait, by William John Watkeys, is shown here courtesy of the City & County of Swansea: Glynn Vivian Art Gallery Collection.

Ann Julia Hatton (nee Kemble) was born in Worcester to a theatrical family. Her older sister Sarah was born in a Brecon tavern and, as Sarah Siddons, became one of the richest and most famous actors of her era.

Ann’s first marriage, to a Mr Curtis, was a disaster. When she learned that he was a bigamist (already married to someone else), he left her. She became depressed and suicidal. Her poverty and antics as “Mrs Siddons’ sister” were an embarrassment to Sarah, who granted Ann an annuity – on condition that Ann lived at least 150 miles from London! One of their brothers also gave Ann an annual sum.

swansea_bathing _houseAnn and her husband William Hatton lived in North America before settling in Swansea and running the bathing house here. Swansea had been a fashionable place for a dip, but the business was waning in the Hattons’ tenure. By 1834 the bathing house (pictured here courtesy of West Glamorgan Archive Service) had become a workhouse, home to 112 paupers at a time on average.

After William’s death in 1806, Ann moved from Swansea. She tried her hand at teaching dance in Kidwelly, despite suffering from lameness. Press play to hear her poem Swansea Bay (recited by Lorna Crook), which describes Ann's feelings as she left Swansea: or, download MP3 (940KB)

Ann returned to Swansea in 1809 and concentrated on her poetry and novel writing. Her work had started appearing in print in 1783. From 1813 to 1833 she had many Romantic novels published. Her pen names were Ann of Swansea and Ann of Kidwelly.

She was buried in 1838 in a churchyard in High Street, Swansea. She left most of her belongings to her servant Mary Johns, executor of her will, as a “very small remuneration for her affectionate, honest and undeviating conduct” for almost 16 years. Ann specified that Mary should keep her two-volume Bible and begged Mary to have someone read it to her (Mary) frequently.

With thanks to Lorna Crook

Postcode: SA1 3SN    View Location Map 

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