100 years of Women’s Suffrage, Julia Mortimer writes

Women’s Voice Hastings are planning a rich and varied programme of events to celebrate 100 years since women began to get the vote in the UK. Although the history of women’s long struggle for enfranchisement is now well known, the contribution of early Hastings campaigners such as Muriel Matters and Isabella Darent Harrison has received less attention. As Ann Kramer’s illuminating account of these and the many other Hastings activists, Turbulent Spinsters, explains, the campaign extended far beyond London, Manchester and other urban centres. In 1909, when suffragettes began hunger striking, both the Hastings, St Leonards and East Sussex Women’s Suffrage Society and the Hastings and St Leonards Women’s Suffrage Propaganda Leagues were formed. Vociferous campaigners, members of both groups addressed numerous public meetings and lectures in addition to selling pamphlets on the seafront, organising public rallies and marches, and writing copious letters. The involvement of these early Hastings activists in the eventual success of the campaign for women’s suffrage is cause for huge celebration.

Women’s Voice invites you to dress as a suffragette and join the great women’s suffrage procession on Saturday 23rd June. Speaking for Women’s Voice, Ann Kramer says “The march will be one of the high points of the events we have organised to celebrate one hundred years since (some) women won the parliamentary vote. Local suffragists and suffragettes processed along the seafront and through the streets of Hastings more than a hundred years ago in their fight for the vote, so we decided it would be good to honour their struggle and re-create one of their processions.”

Assembling at 10.00 am at Warrior Square Gardens, the procession will set off at 11.00am and will wend its way along the seafront to the town centre, then back to St Mary’s in the Castle.  From 12.30, there will be activities in the form of speakers, films, theatre and a massed women’s choir singing songs from the suffrage movement. All events are free.

In preparation for the march, there will be poster making workshops from Tuesday 24th April through to Wednesday 6th June. Women are also invited to join free singing workshops with Debbie Warren to learn the songs of suffrage. These start on Saturday 12th May.

If you would like more information about any of the events or sign up for the workshops, please email  [email protected] or Rossana Leal on  [email protected] for full details and a flyer. You can also phone Rossana on 07902 544 295


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