Emmeline Pankhurst (1858-1928), founder of the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU)
A permanent display about the suffragettes showcasing a suffragette medal and a scarf belonging to Emily Wilding Davison. The display is located off Central Lobby, on the way to the public gallery of the House of Commons.
The display follows the acquisition by the Works of Art Committee of a medal awarded to Emmeline Pankhurst (1858-1928), founder of the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU), the early 20th century militant suffrage organisation. The medal was awarded to Pankhurst on her release from prison after she had been found guilty of inciting a rush on the House of Commons on 13 October 1908.
Ten years after this event , women aged over 30 were granted the vote under the Representation of the People Act 1918. Ten years later, in 1928, women finally received the same voting rights as men. In 2008 the medal provides a timely reminder that it is only 90 years since women in Britain were granted the vote, as well as marking the centenary of the rush on the House of Commons.
Suffragettes and Parliament
From protesting in a boat opposite the House of Commons Terrace to chaining themselves to statues in St Stephen's Hall, the display illustrates the many stories of suffragette protest in Parliament.
Emily Wilding Davison scarf
The display also includes a Women Social and Political Union scarf, on loan to the Works of Art Committee from Barbara Gorna. The WSPU first produced these scarves in 1908 and they encouraged their members to wear them at all times in public. In 1913 Emily Wilding Davison ran onto the track at the Epsom Derby to disrupt the race in support of the women’s right to vote campaign, and was fatally injured by the King’s horse. Her death was recorded as ‘due to misadventure’ by the coroner.
The displayed scarf belonged to Miss Frances Annie Burton, whose parents were supporters of women's suffrage. Miss Burton was told by her parents that this scarf was worn by Emily Wilding Davison at the Derby. A large procession followed Emily Wilding Davison’s coffin through central London with thousands of suffragettes and their supporters dressed in white lining the route. Miss Burton said that though only a few weeks old at the time she was carried in the procession wrapped in this scarf.
[Revised September 2014]