Sunday, 16 June 2013

Sister Suffragette

Image source

This Friday just past (14 June) marked the hundredth anniversary of the memorial service for Emily Wilding Davison, the Suffragette who died from injuries sustained when she was run down by the king's horse at the Epsom Derby in 1913. She is also known for having hidden out in the Houses of Parliament on census night in 1911, so that she could be recorded as the sole occupant.

The census record for 1911, showing Emily Davidson [sic] occupying Westminster Hall
 (Image source)

In commemoration of the anniversary of her death, there has been a festival of arts and music running over the past few days at St George, Bloomsbury, which is where her funeral took place. Sadly, I wasn't able to make it to any of the events - I had been particularly looking forward to the Suffragettes parade on Saturday morning but, alas, I couldn't get there in the end.

However, I at least made it to the church service this morning. And naturally, I took the chance to dress appropriately. The colours adopted by the Women's Social and Political Union were purple, green and white - purple for dignity, green for hope, and white for purity. (What purity has to do with why women should have suffrage is beyond me, and slightly riles me, I must confess. It suggests that women should be allowed to vote because they are 'good', which just perpetuates sexist ideas, if you ask me. But that's an aside and I'm just going to view it as an indicator of a different time and let it lie...)

Image source

So, for church today I adopted purple, green, and a touch of white, in recognition of our predecessors who secured women's right to vote in this country. I personally look more like a sweet little angel in this photo than a soldier in a petticoat but there you go...

And I will leave you with Mary Poppins and the first I ever heard of the Suffragettes.

Our daughters' daughters will adore us, 
and they'll sing in grateful chorus,
'Well done, sister Suffragette!'


  1. That is really interesting about Emily hiding out in Westminster Hall (& getting her name misspelt - wonder if that was some kind of revenge). Good on you with the colours for the service. Hah hah! You do look more sweet than like a soldier in a petticoat. Maybe you shouldn't smile, but also maybe you'll win more support with honey than a fist. Love the Mary Poppins reference. You know, I think that is what made me ask about the Suffragettes.

    1. It's the smile and the ribbon in my hair... Even if I looked serious, the fact would still remain that I had a ribbon in my hair. You do have to wonder about the misspelling of Davison - it's an indicator that you don't really care and someone isn't important enough for the trouble if you don't take the time to get their name right...

  2. Mary Poppins was my first introduction to them too, I love that! I bet it was for so many. I would have loved to have gone to the Paradebut I had to work and din't book it off in time, I bet it wad amazing. Good work on your outfit, I hope people understood the significance.
    I recently went to the 'Chime For Change' concert at Twickenham and I have to say it really opened my eyes to just how bad it is still for so many women in this world. I knew there was a problem but I didn't realise the extent of it. It makes me so thankful for women like Emily who helped get us the freedom we have in this country, and the power to help others that can't help themselves.

  3. Good old Mary Poppins! Not just a silly film at all.

    And I agree about how shocking it is how bad things are for women (and people generally!) in other countries... Our grandmothers and mothers brought things so far for us that people often don't stop to think about how things could have been here still. I'm so fortunate to be in a work environment and social environment where I actually feel respected but sometimes I stumble into people with old-fashioned misogynistic ideals and it absolutely enrages me. The fight for gender equality is definitely not over!