Skip to main content

Joan Florence Hall

Back to all posts

Joan Florence Hall

Ella Martignetti
20th Mar 2020
By Ella Martignetti

In the museum’s Herbarium collection there are numerous specimens collected by Joan Florence Hall and her husband Peter.  Joan is not well known outside botanist circles, but she was an avid collector with considerable experience and together with her husband one of the driving forces of the Botanical Society of the British Isles and a founder member of Kent Field Club.

These collecting sheets are currently being digitised.  Here are two of the specimens collected by Joan Florence Hall in 1954.

Left image: Fumaria Offinalis

Right image: Meliotus Indicus

Joan Hall was born in Folkestone and she was brought up mainly by her grandmother. She excelled at school and gained a place at East London College ( later Queen Elizabeth College, University of London), to read Chemistry. After the war she moved to Manchester to work on quality control for the Scientific Civil Service in a paint laboratory. After the war this moved to Risley, Cheshire and this is where she met her husband Peter. They married in 1950 at Kensington Registry office, after they both moved to Woolwich for work.

Joan and Peter Hall enjoyed walking together, particularly in Derbyshire and Yorkshire which led to a fascination in the plants they saw but couldn’t identify. This led them to join the Botanical Society of the British Isles and the London Natural History Society in 1952. They were also among the  founder members of the Kent Field Club in 1955.

Joan and Peter both rapidly became expert field botanists and organised field work for various societies. Peter became field secretary for the Botanical Society of the British Isles in 1956 and Joan assisted him. There were stalwarts of Botanical Society of the British Isles  and were both very involved in the field work for the 1962 Atlas of the British Flora. A project which was ground-breaking and stayed in print for many years.  A New Atlas has now been produced and recording efforts are increasingly collected online.  It is possible to see historical data as well from participating institutions on the following site    It is fascinating to see the distribution of her collecting and really heartening that past collecting efforts are available and useful.

Joan retired in 1969 aged 50 to devote more time to wild and cultivated plants. Peter retired in 1977 and they moved to Monmouth and a larger garden. When that became too much for them, they moved to a flat in Poole in 1994.

Jan McCormack

Sources: BSBI obituaries by Clive Stace:  which includes an image of Joan Hall at an Atlas field meeting around 1960