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.