Merton Marks Centenary Of The First Women To Vote

Suffragettes held regular meetings on Wimbledon Common

Merton’s Heritage Centre is celebrating the centenary of women’s right to vote with a comprehensive programme of activities and events from now until October. 

A suffrage themed banner-making workshop – “100 Banners” – has already taken place at Morden Library. Banners were an important aspect of suffragette history and provided a striking backdrop for many famous speeches throughout the women’s suffrage campaign. 

On Sunday March 4, the Merton banners, together with a further 97 produced by groups from London and the south-east, will feature in a re-enactment of a women’s suffrage march through London, led by Helen Pankhurst, great-granddaughter of suffragette leader, Emmeline Pankhurst.

This is part of Digital Drama’s “100 Banners” project, which is supported by the Heritage Lottery project and commemorates the women's suffrage campaign. There will also be a commemorative gathering at the Albert Hall on Thursday March 8, to tie in with International Women’s Day.

Councillor Edith Macauley MBE, Merton’s Cabinet Member for Community Safety, Engagement and Equalities said: “The tenacity and drive of the suffragette and suffragist movement has taught us a valuable lesson which 100 years on still holds dear.

“We pay tribute to the unswerving will of those who have earned us the right to vote regardless of our gender. Our heartfelt respect goes out to those who fought tirelessly for the rights of women and a special mention to those Merton based who fought for our endeavours – including Rose Lamartine Yates, Josephine Butler, Margaret Grant, the Brackenbury sisters, Sophia Duleep Singh, Bertha Lorsignol and Dr Francis Bather to name a few.”

Pictured (below): Rose Lamartine Yates, Chairwoman of the Wimbledon branch of the Women’s Social and Political Union during the early twentieth century. She and her fellow suffragettes regularly held meetings near the flagstaff on Wimbledon Common as part of their campaign to secure votes for women. Spectators were not always sympathetic, as demonstrated by the police presence.

Rose Lamartine Yates

Pictured above right is Philippa Bilton, a descendant of Emily Davison, the suffragette whose life was tragically lost at Epsom Racehorse where she was killed by the King’s horse.

For more details of the women’s march on Sunday March 4where the banners will be paraded see

What do you think? Why not comment on our forum?

February 13, 2018

Related links
Related Links

Philippa Bilton

Philippa Bilton, a descendant of Emily Davison