Posts Tagged suffragette statue

Suffrage Stories: Suffragette Statues: Or Why Does The Present Take No Interest In The Past?

Suff Fellowship statueYesterday I was intrigued to notice from Twitter that Caroline Criado-Perez has launched a petition to put a statue of a suffragette in Parliament Square.

Fair enough. Even though there are already campaigns to put Sylvia Pankhurst on College Green (see here) and Emily Davison inside the House of Commons (see here) there’s no harm in some more lobbying.

I could see, because she had gone to the trouble of having a photograph taken of Mrs Pankhurst’s statue, with herself on one side and the House of Lords looming on the other,  that Caroline Criado- Perez knew about that icon of commemoration. But did she, I wondered, know about the Suffragette Fellowship memorial on Victoria Street – the other side of Parliament Square from Mrs P’s statue in Victoria Gardens?

I asked in a tweet if she had visited that memorial and when she replied that she hadn’t I sent her a link to a piece on it that I had written for my website. See here for the history of the Suffragette Fellowship memorial, unveiled in Christchurch Gardens, Victoria Street, in 1970 to commemorate not any one Great Woman but the foot-soldiers of the suffrage campaign.

Incidentally it is interesting that in 1970 the Suffragette Fellowship commissioned an abstract, symbolic memorial rather than a representation of any one figure. The current petition doesn’t suggest who might be so honoured as to stand alongside the random collection of gentlemen, of various shapes and sizes, on the Parliament Square roundabout. It strikes me that Mrs Pankhurst is far more enviably placed, with Richard I and Oliver Cromwell, right alongside Parliament. In fact it was lobbying by former suffragettes that ensured that her statue was positioned as close as it could be to Parliament, not separated from it by a stream of traffic.

If I were to put my head above the parapet I would suggest that if anybody is to be honoured in 2018 it should be Millicent Garrett Fawcett. But I suspect that her style of steady, clever, wry, non-militant campaigning, culminating in the final behind-the-scenes wartime lobbying that finally gained some women the vote, has little contemporary popular appeal. But I shall be interested to see how this campaign progresses.

STOP PRESS: Excellent news. Millicent Garrett Fawcett has, indeed, been selected as the woman whom this campaign, backed by the Fawcett Society, will propose should stand in Parliament Square.



, , ,