Hannah Mayor was a founder member of both
the Staithes Group and the Staithes Art Club, working alongside
her husband, Fred Mayor, in Staithes.
Hannah (nee Hoyland), fourth in a family of
six girls and one boy, was born on 9th January 1871 in Dore,
a village near Sheffield. Her father, Charles Hoyland, was
a wealthy brush manufacturer in Sheffield. Hannah was educated
at Sheffield High School where she consistently won top
prizes for art. She went on to study in London at the Royal
Female School of Art and at the Westminster School of Art,
where she was again a star pupil. Queen Victoria made a
visit to Westminster School and bought the flower picture
on which Hannah was working at the time. During her twenties
she continued to develop her artistic talents and her paintings
were regularly accepted at major exhibitions. She returned
to Yorkshire and soon joined the artist's colony in Staithes.
Hannah Mayor in 1936
In these early days she painted landscapes,
genre scenes and flower subjects in both oils and watercolours.
She was a very popular member of the Staithes Group and
a founder member of the Staithes Art Club with the two other
female artists, Laura Knight and Isa Jobling. At Staithes
she started working alongside Fred Mayor, also a founder
member of both the Staithes Group and the Staithes Art Club.
He was a family friend with whom she fell in love. Although
much loved by Hannah's family, her father did not consider
a penniless artist as a suitable husband for his daughter,
and flatly refused his permission for them to marry.
Shortly after her thirty-first birthday, Hannah
and Fred decided to elope and were married at a church in
London in 1902. Hannah's father was so furious that he "cut
her off without a penny". Her first cousin, the actress
Edith Wynne Mathison, who was at that time leading lady
to Henry Irving, took pity on the penniless couple and lent
them ten pounds. This enabled them to set sail for France,
where they settled in Montreuil-sur-Mer, renting a fine
house in the main square for £8 per year.
In Montreuil, her first two children, Freddy
and Charles were born. Shortly after Freddy's birth, one
of her paintings was exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts
in April 1904. Charles was not to survive his twelfth birthday,
but Freddy (1903-1973) later founded the Mayor Gallery in
Cork Street, London. When their third child was on the way
they moved back to England, renting a beautiful house in
Whitchurch, Buckinghamshire, where in 1909, their daughter
Edith was born.
In 1912 they moved to Earl's Court Square,
London and Hannah was subsequently hit by two terrible tragedies.
In 1916, at the age of forty-nine, her husband, Fred, died
as a result of a botched operation and in the following
year her second son Charles, also died. Hannah continued
to rent the big house in Earl's Court Square, letting out
various parts of to enable her to continue to make ends
meet. She kept for herself the beautiful, big studio drawing
room where Fred had worked. Despite shortage of funds and
much hardship, Hannah managed to provide Freddy and Edith
with a private school education. She was also very generous
in helping others, and her house was a refuge to young and
During the period when Hannah was bringing
up her children, she hardly painted at all. After the First
World War she did start again with her creative work. Her
oil paintings of flowers were accepted at the Royal Academy
and at various other exhibitions including the New English
Arts Club, the Society of Women Artists, and the Royal Society
of British Artists and the Royal Institute of Oil Painters.
One of her landscapes, painted in watercolours is in the
permanent collection at the Graves Art Gallery in Sheffield.
She moved to a cottage in Brockham Green,
Surrey in 1934 and continued to live in Surrey and exhibit
her flower paintings and sold her painting of Autumn flowers
at the Royal Academy of Arts in 1946. She died peacefully
on 2nd November 1947 at Mynthurst, in Surrey, at the age
by Edith Chudley (nee Mayor) and Gavin Pearce, September
1992 (Updated November, 2003)