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.
In my opinion, the banner that was carried in the Walsingham Pilgrimage is more likely to be that in the photo below. I think it is the one, representing Joan of Arc, that is known to have been designed by Edith Craig and presented to the CWSS by Christopher St John.
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.
The banner was present at the ‘Equal Franchise’ rally in Hyde Park on 3 July 1926, alongside a new banner designed by the artist Gladys Hynes, which bore the society’s new name, The St Joan’s Social and Political Alliance.