Swindon Suffragette Festival – Women’s Craft Sale

While you’ve all been enjoying the sunshine this bank holiday weekend, our artists and crafters have been hard at work on their beautiful goods, ready for the 10th June. Here’s a sneak peek at some of the sellers and their work!

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Swindon Suffragette Festival – 10th June

Join us on June 10th for the first event of our Swindon Suffragette Festival.

The Women’s Art and Craft Sale will be held in the Community Centre at Christ Church in Old Town, starting at 1.30pm, giving you plenty of time to enjoy the Old Town Festival Parade before. The event is free to attend, open to all and fully accessible – there is limited parking next to the Church but there is ample parking elsewhere in Old Town just a short walk away.

The Sale event is inspired by the Women’s Exhibition held at Princes Skating Rink, Knightsbridge in May 1909. More than 50 stalls, decorated to include the Women’s Social and Political Union colours of purple, green and white, sold goods to raise funds for the WSPU and awareness of the campaign of Votes for Women. Men and women attended to find out more and to support the cause. If you would like to read more about this event we recommend this article. In 1909 Edith New was actively campaigning up and down the country, in July she was based in Newcastle but by September she was once again arrested and imprisoned, this time in Dundee, Scotland.

Our event celebrates the work of local women and includes sellers raising funds for charity and awareness of women’s issues. We will also have an information display about Edith New, Swindon’s very own suffragette.

During the afternoon there is also an opportunity to join local historian Frances Bevan on a guided walk around the churchyard at Christ Church. As well as visiting some of Edith’s family’s graves you can find out about other fascinating women who lived in Swindon and are buried there. The walk is free to join and there is no need to book in advance, it will last for approximately one hour. Meet in the Community Centre for 2pm and Frances will set off from there. Please note that the walk will cover some uneven ground but will be a very gentle pace, refreshments will be available in the Community Centre afterwards.

We hope you will be able to join us on the 10th to celebrate the work and achievements of Swindon Suffragette Edith New while also supporting local artists, crafters and businesswomen.

Warm up those singing voices

If you’re coming to our EqualiTeas event on the 24th June then you’ll have a chance to listen to some Suffragette songs performed by the fabulous Swindon Community Choir and join a Pop-Choir to sing a modern anthem from the current women’s movement.

The March of the Women was composed by Ethel Smyth with words by Cecily Hamilton and was often sung by members of the WSPU at rallies, and on one occasion in the courtyard of Holloway Prison while Ethel Smyth conducted from a window using her toothbrush. Members of the Swindon Community Choir sang this for us at Radnor Street Cemetery in October 2015 – here is a snippet of the song as they greeted our Suffragette marchers.  The lyrics of several of the original suffrage songs can be found online: http://www.thesuffragettes.org/resources/anthems/

We would love it if people coming to our event joined us in singing a modern anthem called I Can’t Keep Quiet. If you would like to learn the chorus members of the Community Choir can teach you on the day and then you can join in a performance at 12.30pm. The song was written by MILCK and Adrianne “AG” Gonzalez and the #ICantKeepQuiet Global Community is dedicated to supporting organizations that are anchored in love, inclusivity, and hope, and that empower, unify, and mobilize fellow Gentle Rebels.

Watch the song performed by the Swindon Pop-Up Choir and filmed by Swindon Viewpoint.

I can’t keep quiet, no oh oh oh oh oh oh
I can’t keep quiet, no oh oh oh oh oh oh
A one woman riot, oh oh oh oh oh oh oh

I can’t keep quiet
For anyone
Anymore

 

EqualiTeas & Illustrated Talk

We are delighted to announce that this June we will be working with Eastcott Community Organisation on two events to celebrate Swindon Suffragette Edith New and have been awarded almost £1700 from the Women’s Vote Centenary Grant Scheme to support this. This is a £1.5 million government fund that will support local and community groups across England in celebration of the centenary of women gaining the right to vote.

Thanks to the grant there will be two events at Savernake Street Social Hall in June; a family friendly EqualiTea on 24 June – a day of theatre, arts and crafts, song, a voting booth and a gardening activity; and a talk titled ‘Worth the Whipping’ on 29 June. Both events will be free to attend and more information will be coming soon.

 

Characters of Swindon Exhibition

Swindon Stitch and Bitch’s Characters of Swindon exhibition launches on Wednesday 28th March at 2pm, at the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery in Old Town. We know readers of this blog will recognise one familiar face in this fantastic exhibition…

Swindon Stitch and Bitch’s Characters of Swindon exhibition launches on Wednesday 28th March at 2pm, at the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery in Old Town.  We know readers of this blog will recognise one familiar face in this fantastic exhibition which comprises of 35 crocheted dolls depicting people who have all, in their own way, helped in the making of Swindon.

At the event you will be able to meet some of the members of Swindon Stitch and Bitch who made the dolls and see how many of them you know.  Characters will be available to buy after the exhibition finishes with all proceeds going to Swindon Mind.

For more information about opening times and to bid on a character doll please contact the Museum directly:  01793 466556  or smag@swindon.gov.uk

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And they’ll sing in grateful chorus…

Edith New was a particularly active member of the WSPU between 1907 and 1909 when she committed several illegal acts. She had, until this point, been a law-abiding teacher and described herself as ‘of a peaceful disposition’ commenting that she admired and respected the bravery of her (much more militant) comrade, Mary Leigh. On her release from prison, she is quoted in Votes for Women such “She had been ablaze with indignation, and she was sure many others felt equally strongly. She was only sorry that they could not resent it in a way that hurt their enemies still more.”

On this centenary anniversary of partial suffrage – the 1918 Representation of the People Act only gave some women the vote – we would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who fought for our eventual right to vote.

Whether the women (and men) were paid up members of unions and societies or were financially incapable; whether they attended protest marches and rallies or instead had to stay at home or work; whether they chained themselves to railings, threw stones and were imprisoned or campaigned lawfully – every single person who raised their voice and demanded that women be given the right to vote, has our gratitude.  We never take our rights for granted and we admire the courage and sacrifice of all who campaigned.

Edith New was a particularly active member of the WSPU between 1907 and 1909 when she committed several illegal and militant acts.  This included smashing windows at Downing Street alongside Mary Leigh, one of the first instances of this type of vandalism during the campaign.  She had, until this point, been a law-abiding teacher and described herself as ‘of a peaceful disposition’ commenting that she admired and respected the bravery of her (much more militant) comrade, Mary Leigh.  On her release from prison, she is quoted in Votes for Women: “She had been ablaze with indignation, and she was sure many others felt equally strongly.  She was only sorry that they could not resent it in a way that hurt their enemies still more.”

She was right, millions of others in the UK did feel similarly ablaze and they fought long and hard so that women would have a democratic voice, and they hoped that this would spill into other areas of life and society.  Their spirit and determination continue to inspire us wherever we see inequality and injustice and empower us to speak our truths.

Well done Sister Suffragette!

Centenary Reading List

During this centenary year, there are lots of new books being published which tie in with the suffrage movement so we thought we’d put together a list of those we are aware of.  If we have missed any please let us know, especially if you are self-publishing or using small/local presses and we may not have seen them yet.  These are in no order so we can update easily!

Edit: We have now included a few previously published books too, let us know your favourites in the comments so we can provide lots of inspiration for people new to the subject.

Previously published books about suffrage, votes for women, campaigners/revolutionaries:

Sophia: Princess, Suffragette, Revoluntionary by Anita Anand

Various titles by Elizabeth Crawford including Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary; The Women’s Suffrage Movement: a reference guide; Enterprising Women: the Garretts and their circle

Eleanor Marx: A Life by Rachel Holmes

Suffragettes: The Fight for Votes for Women Edited by Joyce Marlow

The Prison Diary of Annie Cobden-Sanderson edited by Marianne Tidcombe

Rebel Girls: Their Fight for the Vote by Jill Liddington

Recent, new and forthcoming:

Bad Girls: A History of Rebels and Renegades by Caitlin Davies – A history of a century of women, punishment and crime in HM Prison Holloway, where many suffragettes were imprisoned, including Edith New.

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Women’s London by Rachel Kolsky –  Inspired by her walking tours this guide book to London profiles the impact women have had on its society, heritage and streetscape; from scientists and suffragettes, reformers and royals to authors and artists.  After leaving Swindon Edith lived in Lewisham throughout her teaching career.

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Death in Ten Minutes. Kitty Marion: Activist. Arsonist. Suffragette by Fern Riddell – The never before told story of radical suffragette Kitty Marion. Historian Fern Riddell finds a hidden diary and uses Kitty’s own words to tell the story of her sensational life and explosive actions.  Kitty and Edith were both arrested in June 1908 at the same demonstration and sentenced to Holloway so there is every chance they knew each other, or at least met.

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Deeds Not Words. The Story of Women’s Rights – Then and Now by Helen Pankhurst – On the 100th anniversary of women getting the vote, Helen Pankhurst – great-granddaughter of suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst and a leading women’s rights campaigner – charts how women’s lives have changed over the last century, and offers a powerful and positive argument for the way forward.  Edith was an organiser for the WSPU, working closely alongside the Pankhursts.

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Rise Up Women! The Remarkable Lives of the Suffragettes by Diane Atkinson – Marking the centenary of female suffrage, this definitive history charts women’s fight for the vote through the lives of those who took part, in a timely celebration of an extraordinary struggle.

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Christabel Pankhurst: A Biography by June Purvis – Now in paperback.  Together with her mother, Emmeline, Christabel Pankhurst co-led the single-sex Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), founded in 1903 and soon regarded as the most notorious of the groupings campaigning for the parliamentary vote for women.

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Hearts And Minds. The Untold Story of the Great Pilgrimage and How Women Won the Vote by Jane Robinson – Set against the colourful background of the entire campaign for women to win the vote, Hearts and Minds tells the remarkable and inspiring story of the suffragists’ march on London.

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The Stalled Revolution: Is Equality for Women an Impossible Dream? by Eva Tutchell and John Edmonds – 100 years ago women in the UK won the vote, this boook draws upon historical perspectives and contemporary interviews to convey what it felt like to be in the heart of the campaigns—the excitement, the solidarity, the suffering and the humour.   It also asks why the revolution has stalled and equality for women is still a distant dream.  Are women ready to draw inspiration from past successes and take a third leap forward towards equality?

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Indian Suffragettes: Female Identities and Transnational Networks by Sumita Mukherjee – this book discusses the experiences of the Indian suffragettes who travelled around the world to lobby the British parliament, attend international women’s conferences, and conduct speaking tours to gather support for Indian women.

Art and Suffrage: a biographical dictionary of suffrage artists by Elizabeth Crawford – covers the lives of over 100 artists, men and women (although mainly women), who worked to promote the suffrage cause.

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The Remarkable Rhoda Garrett by Graeme Taylor – she was a cousin to both Millicent Fawcett and Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and along with her cousin Agnes their interior design firm was the first business registered and run by women.  Rhoda was also to have two pieces dedicated to her by the composer’s Dame Ethel Smyth and Sir Hubert Parry.

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