Eliza Eve Gleadall

A gifted illustrator and poet, Eliza Eve Gleadall lived at Heath Old Hall, Heath. Her illustrations, which appeared most notably in her work The Beauties of Flora, would go on to inform classifications across the world, including at Kew Gardens, London and still carry importance to this day. While Eliza’s beautiful book is now a rare item, her story lives on.

Eliza Eve Gleadall is Blue Plaque Number 27 in our quest for #BluePlaqueParity.

We unveiled Eliza’s blue plaque in a ceremony as part of our International Women’s Day celebrations at Westgate Chapel in March, 2022.

Eliza's Artistic Life

The following biography first appeared in an extended piece written by Sarah Leah Cobham, FWW project lead, for Yorkshire Bylines, based on research by Sarah and our lead researcher Helga Fox:

Born c.1806 and baptised in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, Miss E E Gleadall’s botanical account of 40 ornamental foreign plants found in the orangeries of the great houses of Wakefield and beyond, was produced whilst in her late 20s and early 30s when she was living at Heath Old Hall, Heath. During this time, she was a teacher and then the head mistress of an exclusive ladies’ seminary at Heath Old Hall, which was first established in 1827 by Miss Simpson.

By the time she was 29, Gleadall was the head mistress of the ladies seminary at Heath Old Hall and advertising her highly successful Beauties of Flora in the local and national press, dedicating the second volume to “His Grace, The Lord Archbishop of York”.

In 1838, she married Benjamin Williamson, a widower of Leeds. Busy with four stepchildren and three of her own, Gleadall never produced any further botanical artwork. Her successful ladies seminary was taken over by the Misses Penn who continued to educate the daughters of the great and the good of Wakefield building on the outstanding educational reputation Gleadall had created, until at least 1851.

When Gleadall found herself a widow in 1854 at the age of 48, this remarkable woman set up another ladies seminary in Beech Grove, Harrogate which she ran, until her death in 1887 aged 81.

In 1897, the brother of Lady Catherine Milnes-Gaskell, The Honourable Fredrick Wallop, gifted a copy of The Beauties of Flora to Charles Milnes-Gaskell. This copy, one of only 115 ever printed was auctioned at Bonhams in 2014.

Gleadall’s legacy as a botanical artist and author, whose illustrations inform Kew Gardens’ classifications of exotic flora and fauna, as well as assisting the religious community and gardeners worldwide in understanding more about the language of flowers, is recognised with a blue plaque as part of International Women’s Day 2022 celebrations in Wakefield.

Your Creative Response

In October of 2021, Dream Time Creative was thrilled to be asked to deliver two creative workshops at Wakefield’s Sandal and Normanton libraries.

We were astounded at the amazing work of the women who attended our workshops and talked with us about their struggles over the last few years, and their hopes for the future.

Thank you to Wakefield Libraries Service, Creative Wakefield and Wakefield Council for funding these incredible few days!

Your creative responses have now been condensed into a brochure telling the story of Eliza’s life and providing a walking tour around the area Eliza once lived:


Press and Media

Eliza Eve Gleadall Blue Plaque Unveiling

You can go visit Eliza’s blue plaque in Heath at the Priest’s House. This is at the gateway to old Heath Hall where Eliza lived.

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