Women’s Suffrage in Sussex exhibition at Bridge Cottage
Location: Bridge Cottage, High Street, Uckfield, East Sussex, TN22 1AZ
Date: Monday, May 21, 2018, - Saturday, June 2, 2018, All Day
An exhibition exploring and celebrating the 100th anniversary of a law being passed which allowed some women to vote for the first time opens at Bridge Cottage Heritage Centre on Monday, May 21.
Many local organisations and historical groups within Sussex have helped build the exhibition, which is also endorsed and supported by Wealden MP Nus Ghani. It will run for two weeks until Saturday, June 2.
Entry to the exhibition is free of charge and there are also other events, talks and workshops running alongside it.
Events, talks and workshops include:
Monday, May 21, 6pm – SUFFRAGETTE film screening – free
Tuesday, May 22, 2pm – Talk: East Sussex Women and the First World War with Dr Chris Kempshall £5
Wednesday, May 23, 2pm and 6pm – WORKSHOPS: From Suffragette and Beyond – free
Saturday, May 26, 8pm – An evening of music and drama of the period – £6
Tuesday, May 29, 2.30pm – TALK: Turbulent Spinsters with Ann Kramer – £5
Thursday, May 31, 7pm – TALK: Sussex Women with Nus Ghani MP & Nicola Stewart – £5
Friday, June 1, 7pm – TALK: Wealden Suffragists with Frances Stenlake – £5
Women’s suffrage campaigning in Uckfield, Crowborough and Heathfield has been explored by researcher, author and historian Frances Stenlake and her findings will be on display as part of the exhibition.
She says women’s suffrage campaigners in the Crowborough, Uckfield and Heathfield area, as elsewhere in rural Sussex, were likely to be ‘suffragists’ rather than ‘suffragettes’.
They were emphatically non-militant and law-abiding, and members of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) rather than of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU).
Millicent Garrett Fawcett
She says the NUWSS, founded in 1897, was led by Millicent Garrett Fawcett. Its colours were green, white and red.
The colours green, white and mauve were those of the WSPU, founded by Emmeline Pankhurst in 1903. Its members, who went in for militant, law-breaking tactics, were dubbed ‘suffragettes’ in 1906 by the Daily Mail, and the terms ‘suffragist’ and ‘suffragette’ have been used indiscriminately ever since.
Although it has always received less attention than the WSPU, the NUWSS was a much larger organisation with a far greater membership, and its branches across Sussex formed part of the Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire Federation of Women’s Suffrage Societies.
The Corbett family of Woodgate (now Cumnor House), Danehill, were leading figures in the formation of branches in the Central Sussex and Wealden areas.
Marie Corbett, the first woman on the Uckfield District Council, and her husband Charles, Liberal MP for the East Grinstead constituency 1906-10, founded the Liberal Women’s Suffrage Society and the East Grinstead Women’s Suffrage Society, and encouraged the formation of a Crowborough branch in early 1911.
Crowborough branch resident was Sybil, Countess Brassey, who was also president of the Bexhill, Hastings and St Leonard’s Women’s Suffrage Society.
Bridge Cottage will be running a two-week programme of events from talks to workshops and the full programme can be seen on their website.
Wealden MP Nus Ghani said: “Bridge Cottage are hosting what will be a fantastic and memorable celebration over two weeks to celebrate women getting the vote.
“This anniversary is a momentous moment in our history. We have been working on plans for a year and I was delighted to hear the progress made by Bridge Cottage to create an inter-generational interactive fortnight of events, to remember and celebrate the amazing women who fought to establish the right for women to be able to vote and run for office.
“As the first female MP for Wealden, I owe my position in part to the bravery and determination of suffragettes and suffragists.
“Their perseverance and courage is to be admired, and a hundred years later the suffragettes are still inspiring young girls across the country. I look forward to working closely with Bridge Cottage and Nicola Stewart to remember this anniversary for the historic moment it is.
Collecting testimonies and stories
“To make this centenary year a festival of female achievement, we will be collecting testimonies and stories of Wealden women past and present who inspire us, so please visit the Bridge Cottage website for further details.
“We are also keen to collect as many images, letters and stories of Wealden Suffragettes and Suffragists and of women who voted in 1918. If you are able to share any details, please get in touch.”
Bridge Cottage Heritage Centre Education Officer and exhibition coordinator Nicola Stewart said the centre was excited to be working with other community groups and historical societies to offer the immersive exhibition.