Eleanor Margaret Cropper, Lady Acland (d.1933) by Florence Veric Hardy Small (Nottingham c.1860 - London 1933)

Finally, Eleanor Acland who lived at Killerton. Her dress is the star of a new exhibition there about suffragettes and their clothes. A novelist and a passionate suffragette, ‘in 1912 she organised local Women’s Liberal Associations to pass resolutions in support of the 1912 Conciliation Bill. In 1913 she founded the Liberal Women’s Suffrage Union and eventually she stood (unsuccessfully) for parliament.’ Alas, Eleanor’s aunt was anti-suffrage, details here on the National Trust site, and the family was bitterly divided.

 

 

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‘There is little recorded in history books about working-class women like Violet Ann Bland, the kitchen maid who toiled below stairs at Dudmaston Hall. She was a passionate suffragette, joined the WSPU and was arrested for her part in the Black Friday demonstration in 1910 and for window breaking in 1912, when she was force-fed. Working-class women were treated [even more] brutally for their activism and did not gain voting rights until 1928.’

 

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‘In 1899, Edith Craig’s mother Ellen Terry purchased an old farm at Smallhythe, now known as Smallhythe Place, which included three houses. She invited Edith to live in Priest’s House, about 100 yards up the hill from Smallhythe Place. Edith shared the house with two female friends; they were all active in the suffrage movement and their home at Priest’s House seems to have been a haven for many other activists. The trio were part of a literary community that included Virginia Woolf, Vita Sackville-West, and Radclyffe Hall. Edith Craig was determined to create a lasting memorial to her mother. After her death in 1928, she transformed  Smallhythe into a memorial museum, converted the barn into a theatre and organised an annual memorial performance in the theatre.’

 

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Laura McLaren was brought up at Bodnant and inherited the garden and estate in 1895. ‘A  force of nature, she was not just an acclaimed gardener at Bodnant but a formidable businesswoman, political campaigner and pivotal character in the fight for Women’s Suffrage. She was almost certainly inspired into activism by her mother, Agnes, an early campaigner. Agnes was one of the key speakers at the 1868 meeting of the Manchester National Society for Women’s Suffrage, a starting point for the campaign for women’s suffrage in Britain. Laura, then a teenager, was in the audience. Mother and daughter both campaigned for women’s rights and suffrage, as did Laura’s mother-in-law, Priscilla Bright McLaren. Laura passed on the baton to her two suffragist daughters Florence and Elsie.’

de Laszlo, Philip Alexius, 1869-1937; Edith Vane-Tempest-Stewart (1878-1959), the Marchioness of Londonderry, DBE

There is a feature in the current National Trust magazine about people associated both with the Trust and with the Suffragettes. First of all: Edith Vane-Tempest-Stewart  who lived at Mount Stewart, County Down as the Marchioness of Londonderry, an aristocratic wife and mother. But she was also Colonel-in-Chief of the Women’s Volunteer Reserve in the First World War, and in 1915 formed the Women’s Legion which provided female cooks for the military, ambulance drivers, mechanics etc. She campaigned for suffrage but only for ‘duly qualified’ women (in heaven’s name, what was the impetus for women to become ‘duly qualified’ if they couldn’t vote?). The portrait (which is in fact much larger, showing the entire jacket) was painted by Philip de László in 1918, it’s at the Imperial War Museum and here taken from ArtUK.

 

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Lastly, an extraordinary film of a suffragette demonstration in London, possibly in Bloomsbury, organised by the WSPU on 18 June 1910. The three minute film is available free of charge on the BFI site here (but do think of joining the BFI, it is a marvellous cause). To think that all this effort and organisation and time went in to denying women something they were obviously going to be granted one day – the vote.  It is unbelievable that it was only a hundred years ago. And to think that ‘our’ author Maud Pember Reeves campaigned for women to have the vote in New Zealand and they were allowed it (funny word, allowed) in 1893. Yet it took Britain another twenty-five years of pointless and agonised argument. But then, plus ça change: HS2, eating a lot of meat, polluting the world with plastic, denying climate change, fire precautions in tower blocks, equal pay, wanting not to be in a union with our European neighbours, closing libraries, to name but a few of the issues which currently preoccupy us – one day they will be resolved and our descendants will see us as intransigeant and old-fashioned as our ancestors who once denied women the vote.

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The funeral service for Emily Wilding Davison at St George’s Church, Bloomsbury on 14 June 1913. Five thousand women, wearing suffragette colours, formed a procession that followed the body from Victoria to Kings Cross stations; the brief service was held at St George’s en route.

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The People’s Suffrage Foundation had its office in Mecklenburgh Square (the square that is the subject of a forthcoming book by Persephone’s very own Saturday girl Francesca Wade) and in 1910 Virginia Woolf spent a short time addressing envelopes here. Some of the details of the PSF would appear in Night and Day – it was disguised by being moved from Mecklenburgh Square to Russell Square.

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The National Portrait Gallery is showing the 1914 surveillance photographs of suffragettes. There is something deeply shocking about the idea of the police, or rather the Criminal Record Office, secretly photographing women simply because they wanted the vote. The  eight women have been identified and their names are here (scroll down). Also, who would have thought it (then) that 104 years on the photographs would have been at the National Portrait Gallery. The only comfort is that we would have been one of these women. Although when one re-reads the scene of force feeding in our suffragette novel No Surrender, one cannot be quite so complacent about being brave…

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Bloomsbury was crucial to the Suffragette movement so we cannot let last week’s great anniversary pass unnoticed by the Persephone Post. First of all, here is Christabel Pankhurst in the office of the WSPU (Women’s Social and Political Union) in Clements Inn in 1910-11. The photograph was taken by a H.Sergeant of Ladbroke Grove and is on the always fascinating Women and Her Sphere blog here. And here, from the same source, is a piece about Clements Inn

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