Panel 9: Suffragettes in Surrey: the Ultimate Sacrifice

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

On 4 June 1913, the most infamous event of the suffrage campaign occurred at the Epsom Derby. Emily Wilding Davison entered the track at Tattenham Corner and attempted to attach a ‘Votes for Women’ banner to the King’s horse, Anmer. Tragically Emily was trampled, suffering fatal injuries. She never regained consciousness and died in Epsom Cottage Hospital on 8 June.

That same night and unaware of Emily’s death, suffragettes Kitty Marion and Clara Elizabeth Giveen set fire to the grandstand at Hurst Park Racecourse, West Molesey. Kitty and Clara were arrested in Richmond two days later and tried in Guildford on 3 July. They were found guilty and sentenced to 3 years in Holloway Prison, where they immediately went on hunger strike and were released under the ‘Cat and Mouse’ Act, recuperating at a house in the Surrey Hills.

The suffragettes honoured Emily Wilding Davison’s ultimate sacrifice by accompanying her coffin on a procession through London and dedicated an entire issue of The Suffragette to her.

While the Women’s Social and Political Union was supporting the militancy of their members, their suffragist counterparts in the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) opposed the use of direct action. An advertisement was published in the Surrey Mirror and the Dorking and Leatherhead Advertiser in June 1913 stating that the NUWSS ‘disapprove of the sensational methods of militancy’.

Militant action continued into 1914, with the church in Chipstead targeted with a smoke bomb in June. This prompted other churches to take out insurance policies against suffragette activity. However, following the outbreak of war in August suffrage action was halted and Emmeline Pankhurst advised women to support the war effort by entering the workplace. The Surrey Advertiser reported ‘that the militant suffragettes had decided to refrain from their evil works’. In return the government declared an amnesty for suffragettes, pardoning any political offences that they had not already served time for. Apart from a small minority, suffragists and suffragettes alike rallied behind the war effort and turned their energies to the same goal.

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 10 – The Anti-Suffrage Campaign in Surrey

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

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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