Don't miss a story sign up to the North Devon Gazette's FREE daily newsletter CLICK HERE

Suffragette 100: A hotbed of militancy in Ilfracombe

PUBLISHED: 09:57 06 February 2018

Author Pamela Vass with her book Breaking the Mould. Picture: Tony Gussin

Author Pamela Vass with her book Breaking the Mould. Picture: Tony Gussin

Archant

The suffragettes in North Devon are the subject of a new book by author Pamela Vass

North Devon women were at the forefront of the fight to get the vote, Ilfracombe seethed with militancy and a Lynton mansion was destroyed by activists.

The revelations come in a new book by Pamela Vass, who has pieced together the lives and struggle of a generation of North Devon women every bit as committed as their counterparts in London.

Breaking the Mould, The Suffragette Story in North Devon follows the local ladies of suffrage societies who met, gave speeches, lobbied and campaigned in the early 20th century.

Pamela’s talk at Ilfracombe Museum on the evening of the 100th anniversary yesterday (Tuesday) sold out two weeks before.

As elsewhere, the West Country featured both the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) and the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU).

The former were called ‘suffragists’ and believed in campaigning for the vote through peaceful means, while the name ‘suffragettes’ was given to the increasingly militant WSPU, whose members were arrested, imprisoned and abused for protesting, smashing windows and burning buildings.

Pamela’s interest was piqued when researching her fictional book Seeds of Doubt about the Lynmouth flood disaster and she discovered tales of the great Hollerday House mansion being burned down, perhaps due to ‘suffragette activity’.

She said: “Until then I had not heard of suffragette activity in North Devon. I couldn’t find anything initially, so I went page-by-page through all the papers of the time and all the suffragette publications.

A policeman restrain a demonstrator as suffragettes gathered outside Buckingham Palace in 1914.  Suffragettes campaigned vigorously in the early part of the 2Oth century to gain the right for women to vote, and one died in 1913 when she threw herself under the King's horse at the Derby. A policeman restrain a demonstrator as suffragettes gathered outside Buckingham Palace in 1914. Suffragettes campaigned vigorously in the early part of the 2Oth century to gain the right for women to vote, and one died in 1913 when she threw herself under the King's horse at the Derby.

“I was surprised when I discovered that Ilfracombe was a hotbed of militancy, because of the nature of North Devon, which had been Liberal from the year dot.”

Some of the main players in North Devon included Ilfracombe surgeon’s wife Marie Newby – who was sent to Holloway Gaol and force-fed after going on hunger strike – as well as Nurse Ann Ball and Margaret Eldridge.

When Liberal leader and Prime Minister Charles Asquith, who blocked women’s suffrage for years, holidayed at Clovelly Court, he was forced to drive from Exeter by car because of the suffragettes waiting for him at Bideford station.

Pamela said: “Asquith played golf while he was here. They discovered that and chased him across the golf course – the newspaper was adamant that no woman should distract a gentleman at his leisure on the golf course, that was beyond the pale!”

Breaking the Mould is available at www.boundstonebooks.co.uk or via Amazon and from Everything Westward in Westward Ho!

Related articles

Other News Stories

18:33

A Barnstaple A road has been blocked after a crash involving two vehicles.

Read more
17:21

Bratton Fleming Village Stores is settling into its new home thanks to a huge effort from the community.

Read more

South Molton Rugby Club has handed over more than £4,000 to the charity MIND in memory of their former team-mate.

Read more
14:57

Will you be buying a EuroMillions ticket for tomorrow night’s draw? If so, you could be in with a chance at a £141million jackpot.

Read more
Yesterday, 11:19

Barnstaple photographer Tristan Clarkson highlights the beautiful side of Barnstaple with his camera - see more of his photos here.

Read more
Saturday, February 17, 2018

Big sound soul band Soul Intention will be performing to raise money for the hospital charity’s Cancer and Wellbeing Centre Appeal on Saturday, February 24.

Read more
Saturday, February 17, 2018

People across North Devon felt the earth move today (Saturday) after an earth tremor hit the UK.

Read more
Saturday, February 17, 2018

An earthquake has been felt by people in Devon this afternoon.

Read more
Saturday, February 17, 2018

Check out this week’s gallery of photos sent in by Gazette readers through our image-sharing website iwitness24.

Read more

Local Weather

Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 9°C

min temp: 7°C

Most Read News

Useful Links

Advertise in the paper
Submit a Story
Subscribe to the paper
Competitions
North Devon Football League
Order Photos
Family notices
iwitness24
Facebook
Twitter
Google Plus Page
Reader Travel

Family Notices 24

Read Online

Image
Read the North Devon Gazette e-edition E-edition

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter
HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Local business directory

North Devon's trusted business finder

Find planning applications