On the first Wednesday in June 1913, a smartly dressed woman left Epsom Downs station to join the crowds on Derby Day.


Grand Stand Epsom, Derby Day c1913. Courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

Her name was Emily Wilding Davison, she was a forty-year-old graduate from Northumberland, and she belonged to the Women’s Social and Political Union. Under her coat she carried two Suffragette flags.


Showing Suffragette outrage on King George’s horse Anmer.  The picture above shows horse, jockey (Herbert Jones) and the woman, Miss Davison, lying on the ground. From Romance of the Derby Stakes by Alan Macey, 2nd edition pub 1932 by Hutchinson & Co Ltd.  Facing p216 – The race of 1913 at Tattenham Corner. Courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

Davison was taken to the Epsom Cottage Hospital in Alexandra Road, where she died four days later.

Her funeral was long remembered as the last great Suffragette rally, a pageant in which thousands of women in white paid their last respects to the heroine who had died for their freedom. Five years later, women achieved the vote.


Miss Emily Wilding Davison, In Memoriam card. Courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum (GP 6220)
Emily Davison, 1872 – 1913

Useful Links

Read the project blog for Surrey Heritage’s new HLF project The March of the Women: Surrey Road to the Vote.

Watch the Pathé newsreel film of the Derby here http://www.britishpathe.com/video/emily-davison-throws-herself-under-the-kings-derby

Read Bourne Hall Museum’s detailed article about the 1913 Derby and Emily Davison http://www.epsom.townpage.co.uk/bhmsuffragettes.html

Watch the Warwick Trading Co. newsreel film of Emily Wilding Davison’s funeral procession, from the film archives of Screen Archive South East, here http://screenarchive.brighton.ac.uk/detail/29/

Read ‘Woman and Sphere’ the fascinating blog by suffrage expert Dr Elizabeth Crawford which features Emily Wilding Davison https://womanandhersphere.com/2017/01/30/suffrage-stories-who-did-the-flowers-material-culture-and-emily-wilding-davisons-funeral/

See a blog by Find My Past about Emily Wilding Davison, with contemporary newspaper accounts of her, including her prison record

For an online case study about Emily Wilding Davison and Parliament, her activism, and links to sources, see the ‘Women and the Vote’ section of the UK Parliament website.


The Epsom Derby

Bourne Hall Museum

20th Century Surrey

One Response to Emily Wilding Davison (1872 – 1913)

  1. […] The roots of the women’s suffrage movement in England lie in the aftermath of the Reform Act of 1832, which extended voting rights among men but not women. A chronology of the growth of the movement across the county and the key people involved is featured in the main resource section, ‘The women’s suffrage movement in Surrey’.  The movement appears to have been active from the 1870s, with the first suffrage meeting allegedly being held in Guildford in January 1871, featuring speakers from the Central Society for Women’s Suffrage. Key activists resided in Surrey. Many had links to political parties, or came from landed families, such as Dorothy Hunter, Lady Betty Balfour and the Farrers of Abinger; others were educated, working women like Constance Maud of Sanderstead, who used her experiences to pen No Surrender (1911), and one-time Royal Holloway student, Emily Wilding Davison. […]

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