I was very interested to see this image when it appeared on an internet site the other day because I’m not sure I’ve ever before seen a banner of the Catholic Women’s Suffrage Society.
The Catholic Women’s Suffrage Society was formed in June 1911 and in 1912 Beatrice Anna Augusta Gadsby BA (1878-1973) worked a banner for the society. The fact that she was responsible for the embroidery is mentioned in a 15 May 1939 Nottingham Evening Post report of a pilgrimage by the St Joan Alliance (as the CWSS was now called) to Walsingham. ‘The society’s banner of white, blue and gold headed the procession’, carried by Beatrice Gadsby and Gabrielle Jeffery, the society’s founder.
However, there are no further details of the design of this ‘blue, white and gold banner’. It might be thought that the ‘Joan of Arc’ banner held in the Women’s Library@LSE fitted the bill – its colouring and subject matter certainly do – but this was created, by the Artists’ Suffrage League, in 1908, three years before the founding of the CWSS.
Joan of Arc banner
The question is – is the banner in the photo below that worked by Beatrice Gadsby or is it one, representing Joan of Arc, that is known to have been designed by Edith Craig and presented to the CWSS by Christopher St John.
My hunch is that this is Edith Craig’s banner which has, apparently, long since disappeared. For I do think, if it had been this one that was making the Pilgrimage to Walsingham, the 1939 newspaper report, when describing the banner, would have mentioned the central figure of Joan of Arc rather than merely its colours.
Besides St Joan, the banner bears the names of ‘Iesus’ and ‘Marie’ down the sides of the banner, the name of the society across the bottom.
I think the occasion on which the photograph was taken was probably the women’s ‘Peace with Ireland Demonstration’, organized by the Women’s Freedom League. It was held on 2 July 1921 and the CWSS, with their banner, are noted as comprising ‘Section C’ of the procession.