Panel 11: Anti-Suffragists in Surrey: Active Women in the Community

Click on the image to see a larger copy of the original exhibition panel.

Many women who were campaigning against the vote were active in their local communities and held positions of power and influence in society. Some felt that that their influence could be applied in the local and domestic sphere without the national vote.

Bertha Broadwood of Capel was the daughter of Henry Broadwood of the famous piano manufacturers, John Broadwood and Sons. She was a philanthropist who took an active interest in politics, community matters and the education of the working classes, setting up the Cottage Benefit Nursing Association in 1883. Despite her ventures outside of the domestic sphere, she did not believe women should have the vote. Bertha was a committee member for the Dorking Branch of the Women’s National Anti-Suffrage League and in her notes expressed disapproval of ‘female faddists’ who ‘kick and scream and chain themselves to railings’. She wrote, ‘all this fatigue, excitement and struggling worrying after the vote and vast expenditure of something like £15000 in 3 years seems such [a] pitiful waste of energy and money when help and workers [are] so sorely needed for Hospitals, Waifs and Strays’. She was invited several times to engage in discussion at meetings of the Leith Hill and District Women’s Suffrage Society but always declined.

Margaretta (Etta) Lemon MBE of Reigate was a co-founder of the all-female organisation that became the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). Renowned for public speaking, she lobbied for legislation to protect wild birds against the fashion for wearing feathered hats which she claimed was ‘murderous millinery’. Etta was deeply involved in her local community, serving as Mayoress of Reigate in 1911-1913, and as chair of the local Women’s Temperance Society and Red Cross. Like Bertha, she was an anti-suffragist and believed that to give women the vote would ‘work irrevocable mischief to human progress, to the British Empire, and to women themselves’. Etta headed a branch of the East Surrey Anti-Suffrage League and in a letter to the Surrey Mirror, dated 27 June 1908, she encouraged those ‘desirous of combatting the Women’s Suffrage movement’ to contact her.

Panel 1 – The March of the Women: Surrey’s Road to the Vote

Panel 2 – The Growth of the Suffrage Movement in Surrey

Panel 3 – Suffragists in Surrey: The Peaceful Protest

Panel 4 – Suffragists in Surrey: The Long Road to the Vote

Panel 5 – Suffragists in Surrey: The Great Pilgrimage

Panel 6 – Leading Suffrage Supporters in Surrey: Peaceful vs Militant

Panel 7 – Suffragettes in Surrey: Early Activism

Panel 8 – Suffragettes in Surrey: Militancy Continues

Panel 9 – Suffragettes in Surrey: the Ultimate Sacrifice

Panel 10 – The Anti-Suffrage Campaign in Surrey

Panel 12 – The March is Over: Women get the Vote!

Click here to read more about The March of the Women project

Click here to read The March of the Women blog

Explore more about Surrey’s road to votes for women and the county’s role in the national women’s suffrage campaign

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