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Tributes paid to 'model for bold young women' ahead of memorial service

PUBLISHED: 07:00 30 August 2019

Norfolk Unitarian Sophia Hankinson, who has died aged 89. Picture: MARY RAE

Norfolk Unitarian Sophia Hankinson, who has died aged 89. Picture: MARY RAE

MARY RAE

A memorial service is being held for a dedicated Norfolk Unitarian, who has been described as a role model for "bold, young women".

Sophia Hankinson pictured in 1958 with schoolchildren at the Lynn Museum in King's Lynn. Picture: SENT IN BY LYNN MUSEUMSophia Hankinson pictured in 1958 with schoolchildren at the Lynn Museum in King's Lynn. Picture: SENT IN BY LYNN MUSEUM

Sophia Hankinson, née Mottram, died at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital aged 89.

Mrs Hankinson was a direct descendant of the founder of the Octagon Unitarian Chapel on Colegate, Norwich, which was completed in 1756.

The Octagon Unitarian Chapel on Colegate, Norwich. Picture: MARY RAEThe Octagon Unitarian Chapel on Colegate, Norwich. Picture: MARY RAE

The public memorial service will be taking place in the Colegate chapel on September 7 at 11am.

Bruce Chilton, chairman of trustees at the Octogan Unitarian Chapel, said: "Sophia was a model for a bold, young woman in any age. She was a strong Unitarian woman and, when necessary, a fierce Unitarian woman.

"Sophia was a reformer - she bubbled with ideas. All her life she got things done."

He added: "Her public service was recognised to her delight when Norwich gave her the Freedom of the City.

"Sophia was the last of the Mottram family in an unbroken line of family members in the Norwich community since its foundation in 1698. Her legacies will live on."

Mrs Hankinson was the daughter of Ralph Mottram, the former Lord Mayor of Norwich.

She was head girl at Norwich High School and studied works of classic literature, known as Greats, at St Hilda's College in Oxford.

This was followed by an MA in archaeology at the London University Institute of Archaeology.

After her studies, Mrs Hankinson chose a career in museum administration.

She worked at Norwich Castle Museum, the Norfolk County Library and directed archaeological excavations in Norfolk and elsewhere.

Mrs Hankinson was also curator of Lynn Museum in King's Lynn from April 1957 until 1974.

Oliver Bone, curator of the King's Lynn and Thetford museums, said: "I am aware of the considerable contribution that she made to the preservation and interpretation of King's Lynn's heritage and also to the cultural life of the town."

As well as being a dedicated Unitarian, Mrs Hankinson founded the Norfolk and Norwich Archaeological Society and the Martineau Society, which remembers the influential 19th century writer Harriet Martineau.

Mrs Hankinson married Roland Hankinson in December 1958.

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