The many and varied women who fought for suffrage, the suffragists and suffragettes, did not limit themselves to simply arguing for the vote. They were social reformers in many areas, and their wide ranging and enormous influence is still with us today. The church did not always have an easy relationship with women's suffrage, and some churches actually became a target for radical suffragette action. Many, however, are rightly proud of their links to the women who have made such a difference to our society.

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson was an English physician and suffragist, and the first woman to qualify in Britain as a physician and surgeon. She was founder of the first hospital staffed by women, the first female dean of a British medical school, the first woman in Britain elected to a school board and, as Mayor of Aldeburgh, the first female mayor and magistrate in Britain. Elizabeth introduced Millicent Fawcett, her sister, to women’s suffrage and in 1866 she joined the first British Women's Suffrage Committee. She died in 1917 and is buried in the churchyard.

St Peter & St Paul, Aldeburgh

Millicent Garrett Fawcett

Millicent Fawcett was an intellectual, a feminist, a political essayist and a union leader, but she wasn’t a suffragette, she was a suffragist. She believed strongly in suffrage, but wasn’t willing to condone militancy to get it. Fawcett was the president of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies from 1897 to 1919, fighting tirelessly and lawfully for women’s right to vote. Westminster Abbey contains a memorial to Millicent, and just across the road she will be the first woman to have a statue in Parliament Square.

Westminster Abbey, Westminster

Emily & Isabella Ford

Whilst Isabella has undoubtedly enjoyed the greater historical reputation as a social reformer and suffragist, they cofounded the Leeds Suffrage Society. Emily Ford was an artist and campaigner for women's rights, was born into a Quaker family in Leeds. Her work was influenced by the pre Raphaelite movement and she exhibited at the Royal Academy and after converting to Anglicanism and being baptised at All Souls in 1890, aged 39, she gave the church a tall font canopy with eight panels she painted herself.

All Souls, Leeds

Lady Frances Balfour

Lady Frances Balfour was one of the highest ranking members of the British aristocracy to assume a leadership role in the women's suffrage movement. As a nonviolent suffragist, she was opposed to the militant actions of the Women's Social and Political Union, the suffragettes. She was president of the National Society for Women's Suffrage from 1896 to 1914. Frances was strongly committed to Crown Court and instrumental in raising the funds necessary to build the church.

Crown Court Church of Scotland, Covent Garden

Dorothy Thewlis

Dora was baptised in 1897 at St Bartholomew. In 1907, she travelled with Yorkshire and Lancashire women to take part in a planned protest at the Houses of Parliament. The police forcibly blocked entry and a photographer for the Daily Mirror caught the moment Dora was frogmarched away by two policemen, with her hair and clothes in disarray. She was the youngest of the women, earning her the nickname of the ‘baby suffragette’, and despite not having been being found guilty of any offence was kept in solitary confinement at Holloway Prison.

St Bartholomew, Meltham

Claude Hinscliffe

In 1909 Claude Hinscliffe (who had previously been curate at St George in the East) and his wife Gertrude founded the Church League for Women's Suffrage, which became the largest of several church based groups campaigning for votes for women. Several branches had fine banners, some of which are now in museums. After the First World War CLWS was retitled the 'League of the Church Militant' and enlarged its horizons to include work for the ordination of women.

St George in the East, Shadwell

Emily Wilding Davison

Emily was particularly committed to ‘deeds not words’, notably hiding in a cupboard in the chapel in the Palace of Westminster, including on the night of the 1911 census, in order to state the ‘House of Commons’ as her address on her census return. She was imprisoned eight times. Her final and most notable act was to step out in front of the King’s horse at the Epsom Derby in 1913. She died soon afterwards of her injuries.

Chapel of St Mary Undercroft, Westminster

Lilian Lenton

In early 1913 Lilian began a series of arson attacks and was arrested. In Holloway Prison she, like many arrested suffragettes, held a hunger strike before being forcibly fed. Arson was a common tool of the suffragettes, and although no conclusive evidence was ever found they were blamed for a devastating fire at Wargrave church in 1914. Postcards bearing suffragette messages were found in the churchyard. The damage was substantial and it was not until 1916 that the church was restored ready for use again.

St Mary, Wargrave

Elsie Bowerman

Nestled in a picturesque village in Sussex, the funeral of Elsie Bowerman was held in Warbleton parish church. She was rescued from the Titanic, caught up in the Russian Revolution, demonstrated with the suffragettes, drove ambulances during WW1, became the first woman barrister ever to speak at the Old Bailey, and almost in passing, founded the WVS. In 1914 she toured the nation with WSPU leaders Flora Drummond and Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst and in 1918 Elsie became one of the first women Election Agents.

St Mary the Virgin, Warbleton

Edith Cavell

The argument for suffrage required women to show they could master their emotions and make rational political decisions. Edith Cavell was one of the first British women to be celebrated for her ‘stiff upper lip’. Instrumental in saving the lives of hundreds of soldiers, she also helped to smuggle them home. After her undercover resistance work was discovered by the German secret police, Cavell was tried for treason, found guilty, and shot at dawn by a firing squad in Brussels on October 12 1915. She is buried in Norwich Cathedral.

Norwich Cathedral, Norwich

Emmeline & Sylvia Pankhurst

This is the place were Emmeline Goulden would become Pankhurst, marrying Richard Marsden Pankhurst in December 1879. In 1903, five years after her husband died, Emmeline founded the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU), an all women suffrage advocacy organisation dedicated to ‘deeds, not words’. She was widely criticised for her militant tactics, and her daughter Sylvia was even more radical, but her work is recognised as a crucial element in achieving women's suffrage in Britain.

St Luke, Weaste

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