In June 1913, eight groups of suffragists set off from starting points across the country, including Cornwall, to walk to Hyde Park in London. There they held a large rally on 26 July 1913 in support of votes for women.
Now four South West women are planning a centenary celebration of what became known as the Great 1913 Suffrage Pilgrimage.
Dreadnought South West (named after Sylvia Pankhurst’s suffragette newspaper) will comprise an original theatre piece performed at key stopping places along the South West route with associated waymarker projects promoted by schools and community groups.
Playwright Natalie McGrath and director Josie Sutcliffe, supported by cultural managers Sue Kay and Mary Schwarz, have received an Arts Council England grant to research the route, find suffrage stories and develop partnerships with venues and organisations in the towns and cities through which the Pilgrimage passed.
“Seven women started at Land’s End and made it all the way to Hyde Park,” explains Natalie. “They were joined for periods of time by many supporters as well as encountering much resistance along the way. They held open-air meetings where they were allowed. We’re really interested in exploring people’s experiences of the suffrage campaign in relation to the contemporary social, economic and political position of women today – as well as current modes of, and attitudes to, public protest.”
(Story above adapted from the Dreadnought press release.)