A Guide to Suffragette London

A Guide to Suffragette London



There is no 'right' way to protest. If reason and debate were all that was required to elicit change there would be no need for protests. Protesting comes about when leaders ignore the voice of the people. Protesting is vital for societal change.

Women's suffrage did not start in the early 1900's. For decades women had been calling for the right to vote, but no progress was made. Protests today are no different from the protests over one hundred years ago.I've created this Suffragette London Guide to highlight the women and events that were critical to furthering women's rights.


Emmeline & Christabel Pankhurst's home - 50 Clarendon Walk - Suffragettes

Emmeline Pankhurst was one of the founders of the suffragette movement in Britain. In 1903 she created the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) which embraced the motto ‘deeds, not words’. She saw that peaceful protesting was not inciting the change quick enough and called for militant action to be taken to help move the movement along. During the course of the movement she was arrested seven times and during one of her trails she told the court, ‘We are here not because we are law-breakers; we are here in our efforts to become law-makers.’ The use of militant action was deemed by many, including a large portion of suffragettes, to be extreme. It is impossible to know what the outcome would have been if these extreme and militant actions were not taken, but the fact that history remembers these actions shows the impact they had.

Trust in God - She will provide. Emmeline Pankhurst

Christabel, Emmeline’s daughter, worked hand in hand with her mother to further the cause of the WSPU. She earned a Law degree from the University of Manchester but at the time women were not permitted to practice law, a rule that would not change until 1922. In 1905 Christabel and Annie Kenny attended a political meeting held by a liberal party. They shouted over and over to the speaker to ask if the liberal party would give women the right to vote. They would not be silenced were arrested for obstruction of justice and assaulting a police officer. They were sent to prison after both women refused to pay the fine imposed. This was the first case of women using violence to try and win the vote and resulted in a huge amount of publicity for the suffragette movement. Fueling the notion that militant actions were necessary to insight change. Christabel was made a Dame in 1936 for her public and social services.

It is our duty to make this world a better place for women. Christabel Pankhurst

Hertha Ayrton's home - 41 Norfolk Square- Inventor, Physicist, Mathematician, Suffragette

She attended Cambridge where she studies mathematics, but at the time Cambridge did not grant degrees to women, only certificates. She was able to sit an examination at University College London, which did grant women degrees, and in 1881 was granted a bachelor of science. (Cambridge did not grant degrees to women until 1948).

She went onto study Physics and Engineering and was awarded the Hughs Medal from the Royal Society in 1906 for her research into the electric arc. The next woman to be awarded a Hughs Medal was Michele Dougherty in 2008. Hertha was the first female member of the Institute of Electrical Engineers, and during her life registered 26 patents.

An error that ascribes to a man what was actually the work of a woman has more lives than a cat. Hertha Ayrton


Elizabeth Garrett Anderson's home - 20 Upper Berkeley Street - Physician, Mayor, Suffragette

In 1865 Elizabeth was the first woman to qualify as a physician and surgeon. This was no small feat as she had to find loophole after loophole to even study medicine. After Elizabeth was awarded her medical license The Society of Apothecaries changed their charter to prevent other women from obtaining this qualification. This was not reversed until 1876. She opened her own practice and later co-founded the London School of Medicine for Women (which is now known as Royal Free Hospital and is part of University College London).

1908, she was elected mayor of Aldeburgh and became the first female mayor in England.

She is the sister of Millicent Fawcett.

When I felt rather overcome with my father's opposition [to study medicine], I said as firmly as I could, that I must have this or something else, that I could not live without some real work. Elizabeth Garrett Anderson


Millicent Fawcett's home - 2 Gower Street- Writer, Activist, Suffragette

Millicent was a campaigner for women obtaining an education. She wrote several books on politics, women’s rights, biographies of women. She believed that words, reason, and debate would be sufficient to help progress the rights of women. Millicent became the leader of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) which was the largest suffragist group in Britain. She did not support militant suffragist actions and believed they did more harm than good for the cause. She co-founded  Newham College, Cambridge, and is celebrated as one of the most influential women in the past 100 years.

I cannot say I became a suffragist. I always was one, from the time I was old enough to think at all about the principles of Representative Government. Millicent Fawcett


Suffragette Demonstration led by Sylvia Pankhurst - Trafalgar Square- 27th July 1913

Sylvia Pankhurst leads and speaks at a protest, encouraging the crowd to march on Downing Street. She has been arrested the previous month for ‘disturbing the peace’ and had gone on a hunger and thirst strike during her time in jail. She was released under the Prisoners Act 1913, often referred to as the Cat and Mouse Act, which was passed to allow the release of suffragettes who were at risk of dying due to hunger strikes. She was arrested again at this demonstration.

A video showing the protests

Video showing Trafalgar Square protest


Millicent Fawcett statue - Parliament Square

This is the first statue of a woman in parliament square. It was unveiled on the 100th anniversary of women obtaining the right to vote in 2018. Although there are statues of women nearby, the location in important is Parliament Square. Statues in this square are reserved for statesmen and notable individuals, and its location across from parliament is a rallying point for protests and marches.

Courage calls to courage everywhere, and its voice cannot be denied. Millicent Fawcett


Women’s Sunday - Hyde Park- March 21 June 1908

30,000 women from across the county came to London to participate and demand the right to vote. Over 500,000 people were in attendance and, at the time, it was the largest-ever demonstration in the UK. It was as this event that women were encouraged to wear white, purple, and green, turning these into the colours of the suffragette movement. Women were encouraged to dress up as much as possible so that they would be considered respectable and taken seriously. It was a peaceful demonstration but it was not enough to persuade parliament to debate the right for women to vote. The prime minister largely ignored the suffragettes and this would cause them to take more drastic measures in the future.

Emmeline & Christabel Pankhurst Memorial- Victoria Tower Gardens

After Emmeline died a fund was started to create a memorial. It was erected in 1930 near the Palace of Westminster. In 1959 an additional memorial of Christabel Pankhurst was added, a year after her death. There is no doubt that the actions by Emmeline and Christabel, mother and daughter, paved the way for women to be granted the right to vote.

Letter written by Emeline Pankhurst to members of WSPU, 10th January 1913, outlining the case for militancy.

I know that the defeat of the Amendments will prove to thousands of woman that to rely only on peaceful, patient methods, is to court failure, and that militancy in inevitable.

It is a duty which every woman will owe to her own conscience and self-respect, to other women who are less fortunate than she is herself, and to all those who are to come after her. 

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