Sunday, September 12, 2010

Dorset Hall - A Refuge for Britain's Suffragettes

In an earlier post, I wrote about the 90th anniversary of women’s suffrage in the United States. Tony Grant, from London Calling, mentioned that the home of Rose Lamartine Yates served as a refuge for these persecuted women. Tony rode into the London Borough of Merton and took some pictures of Dorset Hall. He also provided a link to My Merton, a publication of the Merton Council, which included the following:

One of the Women’s Social and Political Union’s most talented and compelling speakers was Rose Lamartine Yates, a respectable solicitor’s wife who lived at Dorset Hall in Kingston Road, Merton. Defending the right to free speech, Rose continued to give lectures despite attempts by the Government to ban public meetings. By 1911, 700 suffragettes had been jailed for their involvement in the militant campaign to secure women the right to vote. Conditions in prison were harsh, and many WSPU members underwent hunger strikes to highlight their cause. The authorities responded by adopting the infamous policy of force feeding prisoners through a tube. (See picture.) In 1909 Rose Lamartine Yates was jailed for one month following a violent suffragette demonstration in Westminster. Following her release from Holloway Prison, she organised a number of receptions at Dorset Hall to raise WSPU funds and honour fellow prisoners. One frequent visitor was Emily Wilding Davison, who achieved fame as a suffragette martyr. She died from her injuries after throwing herself, wrapped in a WSPU flag, under King George V’s horse during the 1913 Derby. With the start of the 1914-18 conflict, the WSPU ended its militant campaign and encouraged women to support the British war effort. The Wimbledon branch converted its shop in Victoria Crescent into a distress kitchen. Women were finally granted equal voting rights to men in March 1928.

Thank you, Tony, for the link and picture. Mary


  1. Mary, I'm glad you liked the picture.

    I am very fortunate where I live in South London. You can pick almost any period in history, British History, that is, oh and some American History too and somebody famous, either literary, political, military, religious, from that period, or a building, or area conected with an event or period, is not far away.I can even cycle there in many cases.

    The main British suffragettes were Emily Pankhurst and her daughters.

    All the best,

  2. You are fortunate. I live near Phoenix, and I could cycle (if I cycled) in any direction and see all different types of cactus. LOL

  3. Thanks for the interesting and informative post Mary.

  4. In 1952 i was living at Morden Hall Lodge.In 1954 we moved to Dorset Hall 152 Kingston Rd Merton at that time Dorset Hall was another house MERTON council used for homeless people - its iteresting to read the history of the house as I was a child at the time I had no idea that it was used by Suffrogettes I passed on the bus a few days ago and it prompted me to try and find out about is origins