To mark International Women’s Day, we gathered in the ancient church of St Mary’s in Morpeth to celebrate the life of Suffragette martyr, Emily Wilding Davison

Wearing suffragette ribbons, our gathering of North East women (and a few men!) sang hymns, joined in songs with Werca’s Folk, listened to amusing and spirited words from Northumberland’s female High Sheriff (who happens to be a reverend too – how Emily would have approved!) and the Romanian consul – also a woman.

Afterwards we were given long-stemmed white carnations and processed behind Emily’s descendants to her graveside.  Flowers were laid to the sound of Werca’s Folk singing the rousing Women’s Marseillaise that Emily would have known well.  Then there were hot drinks and a buffet in the nearby hall – the whole event laid on by Northumberland County Council.

(I took this with my phone, balanced against the railings, so that’s why it’s on a tilt!)

Next year is the centenary of Emily Davison’s death – there will be many events to mark the occasion – I’ll keep you updated here.

“The tranquil graveyard was so overrun with mourners that Maggie and Rose could not get near to see the coffin lowered into the ground at the Davison burial mound, so they patiently waited their turn among the lofty pines. Some time later they were able to approach the iron-fenced memorial which was almost hidden under the heaps of wreaths and floral messages. The scent of the flowers was overpowering as Maggie tossed her own modest purple iris onto the coffin.

‘I’ll fight on, I promise!’ Maggie whispered, as around her women openly wept.”  

Extract from my novel THE SUFFRAGETTE


International Women’s Day – It Didn’t End With “The Vote”

As today is International Women’s Day, I’m going to post a couple of photos of my relations from the Suffragette movement:

Great granny Janet Gorrie – around the 1870’s / 1880’s

Great granny Janet Gorrie in later life as a voting woman!

Granny Janet’s daughter, Mary Gorrie went on to run the Scottish Female Domestic Service Association, which cared for the latter years of domestic servants. Before the coming of the Welfare State, old age could be hard and grim for those who’d spent all their lives in service. The kindly paternalism shown in the likes of Downton Abbey was far rarer than the rose-tinted glasses of TV producers would have us think: