Here we see Rhoda Garrett, cousin to Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, Millicent Garrett Fawcett and Agnes Garrett, speaking at an important women’s suffrage meeting in 1872. She was the suffrage movement’s star speaker until her early death ten years later.
In addition to their involvement in the suffrage campaign, Rhoda and Agnes Garrett were the first women in Britain to become professionally-trained interior decorators, a career that brought an income and status rather more rewarding than the life of ‘governessing’ or of ‘a daughter-at-home’ that had seemed their respective lots.
Early pioneers are easily forgotten – but today, on the 100th anniversary of women first casting a parliamentary vote, I am honoured to have been invited to unveil a plaque to Rhoda and Agnes Garrett. It is placed on the house in Rustington in Sussex which they rented and where, together with Rhoda’s half-siblings and Millicent and Philippa Fawcett, they went to relax, away from London’s cares and responsibilities. Close by, in a now unmarked grave, Rhoda lies in Rustington churchyard.