Rug Tales in Helston

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The History 51 Roadshow, organised by the Hypatia Trust, is going to Helston Folk Museum on Saturday 12 October.Download the Rug Tales poster and share it with your friends (PDF, 1.4 MB)

Rug Tales will be a FREE, practical, fun-filled workshop led by Diane Cox of the Mesdames Myrtles rug hooking group (and well-known We Are Not Doormats). Mesdames Myrtles have been creating seven rugs inspired by the History 51 project representing different historical Cornish women. This workshop, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, will demonstrate how biographies of women in Cornwall needn’t just be written but they can also be made. Mesdames Myrtles have been creating stories of seven women as part of History 51.

So if you want to have a go at rug hooking and find out more about it, this is the event for you.

Rug hooking is an ancient art, largely passed down through the generations by women. It is a wonderful way to make beautiful new things from old remnants and clothes, and to have fun choosing the colours you love. You don't have to be arty, already skilled or able to draw!

Date: Saturday 12 October 2013

Time: 10am-4pm

Venue: Helston Folk Museum (Old Butter Market, Market Place, Helston, TR13 8TH. Tel: 01326 564027)

Cost: FREE

Booking: Email: or telephone (if leaving a message please leave your name, a return phone number or email address) on 01736 366597).

You don't have to be arty, already skilled or able to draw!

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What's going on?

  • Learn the ancient technique of rug hooking -- a skill for life
  • Hear Diane Cox talk about this important part of women's heritage
  • All materials provided and a chance to buy your own beautifully crafted rug hook at the end so you can carry on at home (£15 on the day)
  • Bring your own sharp scissors if you  have a pair
  • Bring any old cloth fabrics whose colours you love, e.g. old T-shirts
  • Be inspired by the stunning collections of Helston Museum
  • Tea, coffee and refreshments provided
  • Bring your own lunch or break and have lunch in the ancient Cornish town of Helston

Places limited, book now!

Email: or telephone (if leaving a message please leave your name, a return phone number or email address) on 01736 366597).

Olly Pickford's Cornish Land Girl rug in the making (credit: Olly Pickford)
Olly Pickford's Cornish Land Girl rug in the making (credit: Olly Pickford)

King Arthur's Wood available again after 109 years

The Arthurian fairy tale "King Arthur's Wood" was written and illustrated by renowned Newlyn artist Elizabeth Stanhope Forbes and published 109 years ago, in 1904. Only 350 copies of this beautiful book were ever printed. In recent decades it has been much sought-after by collectors, especially those interested in art and the Newlyn School. Today, an interactive version of the book has been created, available exclusively on the iBookstore. King Arthur's Wood front cover

The story is both gripping and charming in equal measure, a tale that we felt really deserved to be enjoyed by children and grown-ups alike once again.

When Myles found out that the woods that he could see in the distance from his new home were called "King Arthur's Wood", he simply had to explore them. Filled with curiosity he ventured through the trees and discovered a dark cave where he found a book, which he took back home. Myles is visited by the Brown Spirit of the Woodlands who had come to take the book back - it was owned by none other than Merlin himself. Myles finds himself pulled into a magical world of Arthurian mystery and adventure.

This wonderful Arthurian fairy tale has been carefully digitised, and converted into an interactive book so that children young and old may enjoy this magical story once again.

The interactive book contains scanned pages to preserve the original layout and typeface. Smaller illustrations can be tapped to view full screen, and there is an extra, interactive, gallery of illustrations at the end of the book for you to explore and enjoy.

A free sample chapter is available for download through iBooks on your device. Just open the iBooks app and search for King Arthur's Wood.

Proceeds from the sale of King Arthur’s Wood go towards supporting the work of the Hypatia Trust.



Sea Women in Fowey on 7 September

Sea Women in Fowey 7 Sep 2013

Who said women stayed at home while men went to sea?

Join us in Fowey to hear expert historians talk about the women that shaped our seas and coasts and come on a free tour of historic Fowey and its harbour.

The next History 51 Roadshow FREE event will be in Fowey on Saturday, 7 September 2013.

Booking essential. Sea Women in Fowey poster(download PDF, 641KB)

Book now! Email or call Jo Schofield: Email: Phone: 01326 231146.

Event details

A free community history event organised by the Hypatia Trust in association with Fowey Harbour Heritage Society.

Places are limited and booking is essential.

When? Saturday 7 September, 10.30am-4pm

Where?Fowey Library (Meeting Room)


In the morning from 10.30 at Fowey Library meeting room:

  • Dr Helen Doe on enterprising maritime women
  • Dr Leonie Hicks on women in the Viking world
  • Celebrate Lady Elizabeth Treffry
  • Digital display of old documents and images
  • Free tea and refreshments

Lunch from 12.30: DIY or bring your own.

In the afternoon from 2pm, for about 1.5hrs.

  • Town and harbour walking tour
  • Wear sensible shoes and keep an eye on the weather forecast


Places are limited so please book your place with Jo Schofield by email or telephone.

You will be asked whether you want to book for the morning and afternoon tour or just the morning. NOTE: You will not be able to book only for the afternoon tour.

Email: Phone: 01326 231146

Location and travel

See location on map

Fowey Library and One Stop Shop Caffa Mill House 2 Passage Lane FoweyPL23 1JS


There are 20 spaces next to Fowey library.

Other town carparks. The Fowey Town Bus operates from the Main carpark at the top of town.

Public transport

Western Greyhound buses nos. 524 and 525 from St Austell and Par railway stations.

Other public transport options.

Ferry and taxi information.

Courtney and Conybeare: Women’s suffrage campaigns in Cornwall, part 2

Continuing the story of the two most influential campaigners for women’s rights in late Victorian Cornwall….. What Courtney and Conybeare had in common was they were two of the strongest campaigners in the South West for the rights of women to vote. As such, both were invited to become honorary vice presidents of the South West Suffragist Society. Both were to surround themselves with strong and able women whom they treated respectfully and as close to equals as was possible in this era where good manners were based on an unequal behavior code that demanded gentlemanly courtesies.

conybeare img Conybeare was a highly energetic individual, who tended to take a leading position on every campaign and wait for others to catch up with him. As such, the local press discussion of his relations with women tends to be less obvious, hidden behind descriptions of his regular enthusiasms and battles. The main themes that are noticeable were his enthusiastic welcoming of women into mass political meetings and his thanks to a member of a local women’s organisation for appearing on the platform welcoming him home from imprisonment in Ireland. This particular organisation was the White Rose Society, a women’s Methodist group that it has been said were effectively a suffrage society in Cornwall. Conybeare campaigned upon his support for the women’s cause, and when one of his sisters visited, suffrage meetings were held in his local home. Knowledge about Conybeare is however limited by a lack of personal archive material and by a near complete lack of published works.

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Leonard Courtney’s involvement with a fair number of well-known female campaigners on both suffragism and other issues is better known. His sister-in-law, Beatrice Webb, was to ensure that both his letters and his wife Katherine’s diaries were to be archived at LSE, the University where he had once taught. There is also a small amount of useful published material. Leonard was considered by Joe Chamberlain (leader of the party that held Leonard's allegiance) to have thrown his career away on the cause of proportional representation and suffrage, but it is unlikely that a man that is placed such a high value on integrity and honour above party loyalty was ever entirely suited to high government role. While Joe Chamberlain was to refer to Leonard as an ass, Leonard of thought even less of Chamberlain, writing to Beatrice Webb nee Potter to warn her that should she seriously consider becoming Mrs Chamberlain she would never be able to follow her own dreams; her political and social ambitions.

The next part of this series will appear soon and will focus on Kate, the wife of Leonard Courtney

Further reading:

Bradley, Katherine, Friends and Visitors: A First History of the Women’s Suffrage Movement in Cornwall, 1870-1914, Hypatia Trust, Penzance, 2000.

G.P. Gooch, Life of Lord Courtney (Kessinger Publishing, 2004).

Webb, B, The Diary of Beatrice Webb: 1873-1892,: Glitter around and Darkness Within (Virago, 1982). Images from: Furniss, Harry, M. P.'s in Session From Mr. Punch's Parliamentary Portrait available at

History 51 Roadshow dates

Did you come to Heartlands on 26 May for our very first History 51 Roadshow event Wise Women? If not, this short video gives you a flavour of the energy and enthusiasm the Hypatia Trust has for promoting women's heritage in communities across Cornwall and Scilly. And the huge amount of interest shown in it. Remember women's heritage belongs to all of us, it's about the history of the majority of our people!

Roadshow dates

We have planned four more History 51 Roadshow events. The dates and subjects are as follows. We are still on the trail of an event in North Cornwall and one on Scilly. We have a small amount of funding to publicise, promote and organise the events and those who volunteer to help run the event will have their expenses paid.

Sea Women in Fowey

Women in Cornwall were not left on shore while the men went to sea, nor were they absent from the many maritime industries and trades that were vital to the Duchy's economy and culture. Special guests Dr. Helen Doe, a maritime historian and Dr. Leonie Hicks, a medieval historian, will talk about women and the sea across time, including Jane Slade, the inspiration for Daphne du Maurier's first novel, The Loving Spirit. There will follow an afternoon tour of the the ancient and picturesque port town of Fowey, still an active harbour for the China Clay industry.

Date: Saturday 7 September 2013.

Venue: Fowey Library.

Places: FREE but places limited. Booking will open soon.

Rug Tales in Helston

A practical, fun-filled workshop led by Diane Cox of the Mesdames Myrtles rug hooking group. It will show us how biographies of women in Cornwall needn't just be written but they can also be made. Mesdames Myrtles have been creating stories of seven women as part of History 51 and it is hoped some of these may be on display. So if you want to have a go at rug hooking and find out more about it, this is an event for you.

Date: Saturday 12 October 2013.

Venue: Helston Museum.

Places: FREE but places may be limited.

Women in Industry in St Ives

Women working at sewing machines at Flawns, St Ives (St Ives Archive) St Ives is not normally associated with industry. But did you know it was until the 1970s a hive of activity for hundreds of women especially in dress-making and military clothing. An open day organised jointly with St Ives Archive. Following an overwhelming response to the archive's call for women who made clothes for department stores such as Flawn's we hope to show you displays, conduct interviews, share photographs and even have a go at knitting string vests!

Date: Friday 25 October (11-3pm).

Venue: The Western Hotel.

Places: FREE. Drop-in basis.

Woman with a Cause in Liskeard

Emily Hobhouse was a pioneering campaigner who brought to the world's attention the horrors on both sides of the Boer (or South Africa ) Wars. Hobhouse is a national hero in South Africa but hardly known in her native Cornwall and indeed was reviled by several town worthies from Liskeard who attempted to discredit her. This workshop will introduce you to several important issues about how we understand history, and more importantly, what we remember. Our very own Eleanor Tench will give a keynote address after which we will have a small debate. Afterwards you will have the chance to be a historian by working on primary sources from Emily's time and understanding for yourself why she is so poorly represented in Cornish history. Organised jointly with Liskeard and District Museum, there will also be opportunities to visit the brand new exhibition on Hobhouse both before and after the event.

Date: Saturday 16 November 2013 (9.30-1pm).

Venue: Liskeard District Museum (for the exhibition) and Public Hall (for the talk, debate and activity).

Places: FREE but strictly limited. Booking will open soon.

Alice de Lisle's family

This is a first attempt at reconstructing Alice de Lisle's family tree and to examine her historical context. Alice was Lord of the Manor of Alverton, Penzance's economic centre in the Middle Ages, from 1327 until her death in 1347, and petitioned for the town's first permanent market and fairs in 1332. This grant also permitted a permanent fair in Mousehole. Download Alice de Lisle's Family Tree (showing Lords of the Manor of Alverton, Penzance) (PDF, 565KB)

The Tyeys

Alice came from the Tyeys family whose Cornish roots began with her great-grandfather Henry de Tyeys who was born in the estate/manor of Tywarnhaile (Tywarnhayle), on the north coast near Perranporth, around 1205. It seems, however, that Henry Tyeys was awarded the lordship of Tywarnhaile at some point around 1221 (yet to be cross-checked). He is documented to have accompanied Richard of Cornwall to Gascony in 1225. The Tyeys' previous roots were in Norfolk.

He and his wife Isabel had a son, also Henry (c.1235-c.1282). It is this Henry de Tyeys that connects the Tyeys to the manor/estate of Alverton.

It seems Henry of Tywarnhaile (c.1205-c.1240) was in the king's service as a mercenary (King John, famous for Magna Carta, then King Henry III--brother of Richard, 1st Earl of Cornwall) and was awarded various estates to sustain him and his household and retinue. He and his wife Isabel had a son, also Henry (c.1235-c.1282). It is this Henry de Tyeys that connects the Tyeys to the manor/estate of Alverton. Henry Tyeys was apparently born in Alverton and was part of Richard, Earl of Cornwall's expedition to Germany in 1262. He married Joan Foliot of Fritwell, Oxfordshire which brought in a new estate to the family. He died around 1282 in Wales.

Their son was a third Henry de Tyeys (c.1263-c.1307), Alice's father, who inherited the family estates in Cornwall, Oxfordshire and elsewhere in 1284. Like his forebears he worked closely with Richard, Earl of Cornwall, in the king's service at home and abroad and is documented to have served in Wales in 1287 and 1292, Flanders in 1297 and against the Scots in 1299-1306. He fought at the battle of Falkirk on 22 July 1298, and was present at the siege of Carlaverock in July 1300. In 1307 he was made a baron and took the title 1st Baron Tyeys. He was  married in 1285, to Hawise de Neville (c.1265-1332) who came from Laceby in Lincolnshire.

Alice was born in Fritwell, Oxfordshire, an estate inherited from Alice's grandmother, Joan.

Henry and Hawise had two children, Henry, 2nd Baron Tyeys (1285-1322) and Alice de Tyeys (c.1297-1347). Henry was born at a family estate in Chilton Foliot (or Foliat) in Wiltshire and Alice was born at another in Fritwell, Oxfordshire (an estate inherited from Alice's grandmother, Joan). Around 1316 Henry married Margaret de Thiebot (c.1303-1349) who came from Salisbury, Wiltshire. They had no (surviving) children.

He was hung, drawn and quartered at the Tower of London and his family's estates, including Alverton, were forfeited.

Henry, 2nd Baron Tyeys, continued the family tradition of working in the king's service but became embroiled in baronial factions during the reign of King Edward II (1284-1327) and the political instability caused by the so-called Reign of the Despensers (a family that the longer-standing barons resented because of their undue influence and rewards from the king). He also sat in Parliament and was also made Controller of the Isle of Wight. But Henry's story is for someone else to write. Henry met a sticky end on 3 April 1322 along with many other barons who ended up on the wrong side of the power vacuum caused by the Despenser controversy. He was hung, drawn and quartered at the Tower of London and his family's estates, including Alverton, were forfeited. He was buried in the church of the Carmelites in London. That was the end of the Tyeys.

The Lisles

Warin de Lisle was executed (hanged) at Pontefract, Yorkshire in March 1322.

The Despenser war of 1321-22 was to deal a double blow to Alice. Alice married into the de Lisle family in about 1310/11 at the de Lisle or L'isle (Latin de Insula = of the Island) family estate in Kingston Lisle, near Sparsholt in Berkshire. Her husband was called Warin de Lisle (c. 1276-1322). Between around 1305 (when Alice was about 18 years old) and around 1314 they had five children, Henry, Gerard (later 1st Baron de Lisle) Mary, Alice, Warin and Margery.

Warin fought in wars in Scotland during the reign of King Edward I and was later made Governor of Windsor Castle and Warden of the Forest. In 1320-1 he joined the forces of Thomas, Earl of Lancaster against the Despensers. It is likely that Alice spent most of her time at Kingston Lisle during this time. Along with his rebel leader Earl of Lancaster, Warin de Lisle was executed (hanged) at Pontefract, Yorkshire in March 1322. His estates, including Kingston Lisle, were also forfeited.

1322-1327: The mystery years and the inspiration of Isabella

Could Alice's extraordinary achievement in regaining the Tyeys and de Lisle family estates in 1327... have in any way been inspired by the strength of character shown by Isabella of France?

14th-century manuscript illustration depicting Roger Mortimer and Queen Isabella in the foreground (credit: British Library/Wikimedia Foundation)

So Alice, mother of five, multiple estate manager in lieu of her brother and husband, was left theoretically homeless, without an income by the spring of 1322. And what of all the inhabitants of Alverton, Penzance? We don't really know much of what became of disenfranchised widows in such a situation. No doubt Alice's ties with extended family may have come to her aid. This period needs more research from a Cornish perspective.

Edward II's favourite Piers Gaveston had got his hands on the earldom of Cornwall in 1307 shortly after the king's succession, a title and privilege usually reserved for the monarch's male heirs (even before the creation of the Duchy in 1337). He was executed following a dubious trial orchestrated by various barons in 1312. It is possible that the Tyeys withdrew support from the earl of Cornwall at this time and joined the growing discontent against him and Edward II. In 1316 the earldom was restored to the monarchy and the title Earl of Cornwall given to John of Eltham, Edward II and Isabella of France's second son in 1316 (until 1330). By this time both the Tyeys and de Lisles, having taken sides against supporters of Edward II, may have fallen out of favour with John as well.

Isabella reached the end of her tether when Hugh Despenser took Gaveston's place as the king's favourite after 1312, at which point baronial discontent bubbled up into out-and-out war.

But perhaps we might take a lead from another strand in the turbulence of political life in the 1320s. Isabella of France was colloquially known as the She-wolf. Having tolerated her husband's machinations with Piers Gaveston she reached the end of her tether when Hugh Despenser took Gaveston's place as the king's favourite after 1312, at which point baronial discontent bubbled up into out-and-out war.

So the story goes that Isabella returned to France and started an affair with Roger Mortimer in 1325 who had been exiled in France while the Despenser controversy carried on. He promised to return to England with a small mercenary army to depose Edward II. The king was duly ousted in 1326 and Isabella became Regent on behalf of her young son Edward III.


Berkeley Castle has another significance in the story of Alice de Lisle as her great-grand daughter Margaret de Lisle was to become the next female Lord of Alverton, her husband being Thomas "The Magnificent" de Berkeley

It is alleged that Edward II was imprisoned in Berkeley Castle and murdered by agents of Isabella and Roger Mortimer in October 1327. Berkeley Castle has another significance in the story of Alice de Lisle as her great-grand daughter Margaret de Lisle was to become the next female Lord of Alverton, her husband being Thomas "The Magnificent" de Berkeley, of which more in a future post. Indeed, several archives which may give us more clues to Alice's life are kept in the Berkeley Castle muniments. Edward III's first parliament in 1327 all proceedings against Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, and his followers were annulled, paving the way for the disenfranchised Alice (amongst others) to restore their estates.

Isabella retained a close role in the management of England in Edward III's early years. Isabella's own influence was apparently unpopular, particularly peace-making in Scotland (which meant a good excuse for profit-making war was lost for many of the old barons). Nevertheless the young king's reign saw the beginnings of a series of reforms, legislation and stability in the English parliament in which Cornish aristocrats also took part. And in Edward III's first parliament in 1327 all proceedings against Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, and his followers were annulled, paving the way for the disenfranchised Alice (amongst others) to restore their estates.

Could Alice's extraordinary achievement in regaining the Tyeys and de Lisle family estates in 1327, petitioning and receiving a charter for markets and fairs in Penzance and Mousehole in 1332, restoring her husband's body to the family chantries in Wiltshire (in 1334), and much more besides, have in any way been inspired by the strength of character shown by Isabella of France?

In my next post I will discuss the Return of Alice de Lisle and follow the trail of her achievements after 1327 in more detail. be continued.

Researching Emily Hobhouse

In the autumn, I will be doing a workshop for History51 on Emily Hobhouse. Although my current research is during the late 19th and early 20th centuries when the role of women was starting to change, and many of my protagonists were strong supporters of women’s rights, this is one of my first forays into looking at a woman as a primary subject. Hobhouse2 Although I knew the basics of her story, and knew a lot about one of her most influential mentors, Leonard Courtney, I am learning a great deal about Emily. This includes using her friendship with the Boer leaders to try to support Gandhi's work while he was living in South Africa. She was also to use this influence in an attempt to convince the Boers to alter their attitudes towards black South Africans. Although her meddling was to cause a rift, she was remembered as a hero by the Boers. Her ashes are interred at the Women's Memorial in Bloemfontein, that she helped design. The significance is that she is one of only 3 people to be honored in this way; remembered alongside their first president and their greatest general. This gives a very stark contrast to her native Cornwall, where none of the local newspapers published an obituary upon her death.

However, I was thinking earlier about her return to Cornwall. As the daughter of a vicar, from a ‘good’ family, she had been comfortable but not rich. However she lost almost everything during the Great War. The money to purchase a small property was raised for her by her friend, Mrs Steyn, wife of President Steyn. My feeling is that there is a reasonable comparison to be made in the Boer veneration of Emily and the veneration of  Oskar Schindler, although not an exact comparison. She was fighting to save the Boer civilians from incompetence rather than deliberate malice.

I also wanted to ask if anyone knows enough about St Ives in the 1920s to say why Emily chose there to live. My best guess at the moment is that it was the most cosmopolitan place in Cornwall at the time, and a woman with a reputation for being difficult, who had become a national anti-hero despite being proven right, would be more welcome there, than in many other places. Or at the least less unwelcome. However, my knowledge of the history of artistic communities can be written on the back of a stamp, so if you think I’m wrong in this, please let me know.

As I continue on this journey through Emily’s life, I will be sure to keep you updated. I will also be speaking at the Institute of Cornish Studies conference this autumn. Their theme this year is ‘Daughters of Cornwall’ which should prove very interesting.

Further reading:

B. Roberts, Those Bloody Women: Three Heroines of the Boer War (John Murray, 1991).

T. Pakenham, The Boer War (Futura, 1982).

Courtney and Conybeare: Women's suffrage campaigns in Cornwall part 1


Eleanor Tench, Cornish historian, on the politics of two Cornish politicians and their views on women's suffrage. 

The Third Reform Act of 1884 was a watershed event in British politics that got a large proportion of the working class men the vote. Although when Gladstone pushed for reform, he was told that the working classes, particularly in London, would likely vote Tory, he followed the Liberal shibboleth of ‘trust the people'. A proportion of MPs wanted to go further. Not only to enfranchise the rest of the working class men, but to also enfranchise women.

Two of the strongest supporters of women’s rights in parliament were representatives of Cornish constituencies, Leonard Courtney and C.A.V. Conybeare.

Leonard Courtney

He believed that parliament should avoid legislating on any major issues until after those had been achieved, because only then, could the true will of the people be known.

Courtney was from a Penzance family, middle class, but not hugely well off. His father worked for Bolitho’s bank, where Leonard also worked while waiting for a place at university. Leonard was to become a barrister, a statistician and later a professor of politics at LSE, there are rumours that the quote, ‘there are lies, dammed lies and statistics’ can be originally attributed to him.

Although he was generally Whiggish in his politics, he was, like many of his contemporaries, radical in one area. As a disciple of John Stuart Mill, he promoted Universal adulthood suffrage and proportional representation. He believed that parliament should avoid legislating on any major issues until after those had been achieved, because only then, could the true will of the people be known.

C.A.V. Conybeare

The rights of women were always going to be one of his major platforms.

On the other hand, Conybeare never met a cause he wouldn’t campaign for. An exceedingly energetic and intelligent man, he had inherited enough family wealth to ensure working was not a necessity for him.

As such, he became a campaigning barrister, and even before he stood for parliament, he was known as a troublemaker. His 1885 election campaign in Camborne  against the Whig incumbent Arthur Pendarves Vivian caused ructions throughout Cornwall.

He was unable to resist a cause, anything from mining reform, suffrage reform, Irish land rights and independence, to the gating of local common land. The rights of women were always going to be one of his major platforms.

One of his publications was on the need for and the effect of the Married Women’s Property Act, that gave women the right to hold their own property after marriage. When he married a women’s suffrage campaigner, he was to gift her half of his inherited estate, an almost unheard of act during this era.

More to follow…

Further reading

Bradley, Katherine, Friends and Visitors: A First History of the Women's Suffrage Movement in Cornwall, 1870-1914, Hypatia Trust, Penzance, 2000.

Deacon, B. Conybeare For Ever, in Knight, T., Old Redruth: Original studies of the town's history. Redruth Old Cornwall Society, Redruth, 1992.

Votes for women in Cornwall

Votes for Women rally poster, Penzance, 1911 To join the commemoration and celebration of the Women's Suffrage movement, particularly the centenary of the Great Suffrage Pilgrimage of 1913, we are publishing a series of articles on the women's suffrage movement in Cornwall.

Starting with this retrospective, based on The Cornishman newspaper's archives, we will then be hosting guest posts from historians about the impact of this movement on Cornish politics and culture.

By 1913 there was a clear difference between the tactics of the Suffragettes, led by Pankhurst (Women’s Social and Political Union) who favoured direct action to force the issue of votes for women, and the Suffragists (National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies) who championed the continuation of non-violent protests and petitions which had started in the 1870s.

This is a slightly extended version of an article I wrote for The Cornishman which came out today [Errata: The Cornishman mis-edited my original article suggesting that the Suffrage Pilgrimage as being organised by the Suffragettes. Correction sought. Ed.] It also highlights the work of other projects, notably Dreadnought South West's play, Oxygen and the forthcoming social history exhibition at Penlee House, which are marking this momentous event which changed the lives of tens of thousands of women.

The first thing to note is that although the Suffragettes have remained in popular consciousness as the face of Votes for Women, there were in fact two movements campaigning for broadening the franchise (i.e. reforming the law so all women could have the vote) and other issues of social justice such as child poverty, poor working conditions and bonded white labour (slavery).

The Great Suffrage Pilgrimage was initiated by the Suffragists who prided themselves on their peaceful tactics: rallies, marches and petitions. Millicent Fawcett was the face of the Suffragists and their colours were red, green and white.

The Suffragettes who came to be known through names such as Emmeline Pankhurst and Emily Davison (who died tragically at on Derby Day 1913) took direct action. Their cause was to  use drastic measures to draw attention to the appalling injustice that allowed the law to be based on the decisions of men only. Their colours were purple, green and white.

Land's End to London, 1913 (credit: Jill Morison)

In the 19 June 1913 edition of The Cornishman, sandwiched between a report on the output of black tin from Botallack Stamps and a physician’s advice about curing indigestion, was a short notice headlined MRS. PANKHURST RELEASED.

Emmeline Pankhurst was a Suffragette leader and had been on hunger strike, enduring the torture of force-feeding, while incarcerated at Holloway Prison for conspiracy to commit property damage. Emily Davison had also tragically lost her life while trying to pin Suffragette colours to the King’s horse at the Epson Derby barely a week before.

By 1913 there was a clear difference between the tactics of the Suffragettes, led by Pankhurst (Women’s Social and Political Union) who favoured direct action to force the issue of votes for women, and the Suffragists (National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies) who championed the continuation of non-violent protests and petitions which had started in the 1870s. Cornish activists enjoyed widespread support, from the dominant Liberal political class and influential religious groups such as Quakers headed by families such as the Foxes of Falmouth.

“There is a rumour that at Camborne they may be pelted with stale eggs"

The Cornishman 21 June 1913 (credit: The Cornishman)

The tragedies of Pankhurst’s treatment and Davison’s death rallied peaceful Suffragists into action and on Thursday 19 June an amazing thing happened. Seven women gathered at Land’s End to start the Suffrage Pilgrimage, a gruelling march through Cornwall and up country to London. The Cornishman reported:

“There is a rumour that at Camborne they may be pelted with stale eggs; but surely, when it is realised that not one of the marchers has been guilty of breaking the law or inciting others to break the law, they will be treated with as much respect as would be a procession of Oddfellows or Freemasons.”

Scenes at Penzance

“This little band of zealots comprised Miss Misick (organising secretary), Mrs. Ramsay (Plymouth), Miss Raby (Exeter), and Miss Helen Fraser (London). Mrs. Robins Bolitho, who is actively interested in the non-militant movement, gave the party a hearty send-off, whilst a number of men who had assembled raised a cheer. Along the route to Penzance literature was left at the houses, and the idea of the movement explained.”

Suffrage Pilgrimage van on Market Jew Street, Penzance 100 years ago today (credit: Penlee House Gallery and Museum)

The march came to Penzance and paused at Trereife crossroads. The report continued, “Quite a crowd of people had assembled to witness the junction, and the numbers were constantly added to as the procession neared Penzance. Being market day, the processionists did not parade the main streets, but simply marched up Clarence-street and dispersed at the Pig Market.”

A rally led by Fraser took place on a makeshift stage in the Pig Market where a large crowd gathered, including the “hobble-de-hoy.” Fraser’s eloquence was complemented by the reporter, “few orators of the masculine gender could have held and swayed an audience in the open air as did Miss Fraser.” A scuffle broke out after her rousing speech as she had apparently been kicked in the ankle. The leaders had to be escorted by police to a safe-house on Clarence Street.

“…and if anything like the same success can be achieved in the various towns en route, they will have materially helped their cause to victory ere—like the “twenty thousand Cornishmen” of Trewlany’s spirited days—they summon London town to surrender.”

The march resumed on the Friday morning from Clarence Street, “up Alverton, through the Green Market, and on their way to the station, on the second stage of their long, self-imposed tramp to London.”

Land's End to London, women from Cornwall marched for six weeks (credit: Penlee House Gallery and Museum)

Invoking the last great march of Cornish people to London in 1497, the report ends, “…and if anything like the same success can be achieved in the various towns en route, they will have materially helped their cause to victory ere—like the “twenty thousand Cornishmen” of Trewlany’s spirited days—they summon London town to surrender.”

It took a further ten years for universal franchise to be granted to all women in 1928.

A small number of women were finally given the vote after World War 1 in 1918 as part of the Representation of the People Act. About 8.4 million enfranchised women (related to status and property holding) over the age of 30 voted.

It took a further ten years for universal franchise to be granted to all women over the age of 21 in 1928. That was a full 15 years after the Great Suffrage Pilgrimage and the height of Suffragette action.

Further reading

Katherine Bradley, Friends and Visitors: a History of the Women’s Suffrage Movement in Cornwall 1870-1914 (2000, The Hypatia Trust). Available from the Hypatia Trust Online Bookstore. £5. 

Oxygen. Celebrating women's voices

Imagine that fifteen women gather. They have a conversation that maps eight geographic arteries across England and Wales, like points on a compass. These arteries reach out towards a singular destination like roots forming a tree. The destination is Hyde Park. At Land’s End, a group of women start putting one foot in front of the other. For them there is no going back.

It’s June 1913 and the Great Suffrage Pilgrimage begins.

Oxygen by Dreadnought South West

Tomorrow, on 19 June, an amazing thing will happen. In the footsteps of our female ancestors, Dreadnought South West will perform Oxygen, a brand new play by Natalie McGrath, along an historic route from Land's End to Hyde Park exactly 100 years after the greatest march from Land's End to London since 1497.

An episode will be symbolically performed at Land's End before the first full performance will take place in the Plen-an-Gwarry in St Just. Oxygen runs for 90 minutes with 21 episodes. The full-length play will be performed at venues along the route, with episodes taking place at various points in public, non-theatre spaces as trailers for the full production.

View the itinerary and book tickets.

The play focuses on two sisters, and what happens to their relationship when one of them decides to take the militant path and the other chooses to participate in the peaceful pilgrimage. An ensemble piece that will be infused with the real stories and experiences of those who took part in the march, the play will also feature music composed by Claire Ingleheart, who has worked with Wildworks Theatre and Kneehigh.

Dreadnought South West is a new organisation that works with arts and heritage to champion women’s voices and stories. As the play tours from Land’s End to London, retracing the steps and thoughts of 100 years ago, it will be accompanied by a series of responding events, discussions and land journeys that celebrate the courage of those who participated in the pilgrimage, and questions how women’s lives have changed since 1913.

Oxygen & Dreadnought SW Media Pack

The Hypatia Trust has been a supporter of Dreadnought South West since its inception. Natalie McGrath, the playwright, was a Hypatia Resident Scholar last summer. We are delighted to be supporting Dreadnought South West.

History, drama and entertainment rolled into one.

As a tribute we have donated copies of Katherine Bradley's classic study on the Suffrage movement in Cornwall, published by the Hypatia Trust, to be sold to benefit their further work.

You should be able to buy a copy at one of the performances so what are you waiting for! History, drama and entertainment rolled into one.

Keep a lookout here for our guest historian, Eleanor Tench, who will be publishing a series of short articles on women and the vote and politics in Cornwall.

Land's End to London, 1913 (credit: Jill Morison)

The Pilgrimage through Cornwall

You can book tickets from the Hall for Cornwall box office or risk buying at the door.

Date Ticket Prices Full/ Episode Time Venue Address Normal Box Office
Wed 19/06/2013 FREE Launch/ Episode 12pm Land’s End Custom HouseLand's End


TR19 7AA

Unticketed EventPlease make your way to the Custom House for 12pm to witness the launch of this amazing journey and to see several episodes from the play Oxygen performed.

Parking: For free parking at Lands End please visit

and claim your 'Locals Pass'

An informal walk is scheduled to take place after the launch from Lands End to St Just.  This event is not being organised by DSWA and we would advise that you take part at your own risk.

*Please remember this is an outdoor event, please dress accordingly

Wed 19/06/2013 £10/£7 Play 6.30pm Plain-an-Gwarry St Just Cornwall

TR19 7HU

www.hallforcornwall.orgThen type 'Oxygen' into 'Search Events'

01872 262466

*Please remember this is an outdoor event, please dress accordingly and bring a rug to sit on

Thu 20/06/2013 £12/£8 Play 8pm The  Acorn Parade StreetPenzance

TR18 4BU

www.hallforcornwall.orgThen type 'Oxygen' into 'Search Events'

01872 262466

Fri 21/06/2013 £10/£8 Play 7.30pm The Tolmen Centre Fore StreetConstantine

TR11 5AA

http://constantinecornwall.com01326 341353

Sat 22/06/2013 FREE Episode 11.30am Lemon Quay Lemon QuayTruro


Unticketed EventPlease make your way to Lemon Quay for 11.30am to see several episodes of the play Oxygen performed
Sat 22/06/2013 £10/£8/£6 Play 7pm Sterts Theatre LiskeardPL14 5AZ 362382 or 01579 362962
Sun 23/06/2013 £12/£8/£6 (children) Play 2.30pm Heartlands Robinson's ShaftDundance Lane


TR15 3QY

www.hallforcornwall.orgThen type 'Oxygen' into 'Search Events'

01872 262466


01209 722320

Tue25/06/2013 FREE Episodes 4pm Mount Folly BodminPL31 2DQ Unticketed EventPlease make your way to Mount Folly for 4pm to see episodes from the play Oxygen performed.
Tue 25/06/2013 £12/£8 Play 7.30pm Shire Hall Mount FollyBodmin

PL31 2DQ

www.hallforcornwall.orgThen type 'Oxygen' into 'Search Events'

01872 262466

Thu 27/06/2013 FREE Episode / Boundary Crossing Noon St Germans / Plymouth Saltash / Plymouth Unticketed EventDetails to follow

We are not doormats

The first public showing of Mesdames Myrtles and We are not doormats rug exhibition, some of which are History 51-inspired, is taking place in St Just this week! Please come and support this innovative and deeply creative way of recording women's lives. Here's Diane Cox:

Come and have a cosy time surrounded by fabric and cakes.

An exciting exhibition of contemporary rag rugs by the 'We are not doormats' and 'Mesdames Myrtles' hooking groups. All in aid of a women's refuge.


St Just, W.I.Hall


Friday 7 June to Sunday 9 June ,10.30am - 4pm.

What else?

Vintage tearoom with lots of homemade cakes, craft stall, and a rug raffle in aid of buying craft materials for the Women's refuge.

There will be a big frame set up for people to have a go.

Come and have a cosy time surrounded by fabric and cakes.

Rug biography, inspired by History 51 and Hypatia

History 51 Roadshow gets off the ground

Heartlands, Pool during Kernow Fest On the gloriously sunny Sunday 26 May we put on our first History 51 Roadshow event called Wise Women. It was part of a huge festival of Cornish culture called Kernow Fest and took place in Heartlands in Pool.

Wise Women just before we got started

As a series of ongoing demonstrations, show and tell and an opportunity for the public to come in and chat, perhaps also take part in one of our activities such as writing charms and recipes with quill, handle historical objects--kindly lent to us by English Heritage from Pendennis Castle--or talk to a medieval household about their herbal apothecary--thanks to the brilliant Annie, Kay and Steve of People of the Past. Visitors also had the opportunity to view a rolling digital exhibition all about women, healing and medicine through time presented through Cornish sources. We dressed the room with fresh herbs and aromas of the past. We included in this exhibition photographs from what used to be the West Cornwall Women's Hospital, later Camborne-Redruth Hospital, which was just down the road from Heartlands, giving the event a bit of a local flavour. You can view this exhibition below.

Nurses at Camborne-Redruth Hospital in 1954 (credit: Cornwall Record Office X436/46)

The Wise Women

I was in awe of my co-organisers who each brought a different dimension to the event. Steph Haxton, an historian and educational consultant, who came up with the original idea for Wise Women, was dressed as an authentic 1520s Lady of the Manor, a stunning costume made by her own hand. She presented visitors with historical handling objects and a selection of ingredients that were used by 16th century households. Her responsibility was for the health and welfare of her household, including her servants.

Kay and Annie of People of the Past represented Cornish women and girls in the Middle Ages. Also in authentic clothing based on sources from the period, they showed visitors the range of herbs, ingredients and some implements used in treating and diagnosing people. Annie was a thoroughly brilliant advertisement for Wise Women and History 51 and went out amongst the crowds to draw in more visitors. This made a huge difference as from an expectation of 40-50 people we had at least 120 people come through our door--and those were the ones we managed to count!

Polly Attwood, the new Director of the Hypatia Trust, and I acted as introducers to people coming in. We were dressed in more modern garb, emulating the clothes of the 19th century masses. In theory I was meant to be a 'pellar' - a Cornish white witch - but no one came to me for charms or advice and I was happy to waft around in my overly long skirt and apron, but feeling quiet pride at representing a Cornish ancestor.

Kernow Fest


Hypatia had a wonderful day on May 26th at the KernowFest, held at Heartlands. Our presentation was on 'Wise Women' through the ages, showing how women have been the repository of Health care, herbal remedies and treatment. Using natural herbal treatments, as well as charms and traditional cures, they were very often the place that people went to in times of illness. The woman of the house would be in charge of any 'doctoring' that went on, and would be responsible for her family, any servants and tenants who needed treatment. Many of these old remedies and treatments were handed down from mother to daughter over the ages, and some can still be heard today in what we think of as old fashioned sayings.

The workshop attracted about 120 people through during the course of the day, and both children and adults seemed very happy to sample the herbs and activities, including writing charms with goose feather quills.

There was a lot of interest shown in the concept of the old remedies,and their upsurge today as people return to more natural and organic remedies,rather than using chemical substitutes. Thank you, everyone, for coming to seek out knowledge of this significant aspect of the history of women.

Tallys an Tir - Connecting up with Cornish stories

Women's Land Army recruitment poster (credit: Home Sweet Home Front) This last month we have been doing a lot of research and discovery. Some of us are on steep learning curves, trying to get our heads around subjects with which we were previously unfamiliar, such as me trying to understand traditional medicine in Cornwall. Through our work we have been discovering the wide range of projects promoting, educating and entertaining people about different aspects of Cornish heritage.

One of those is Tallys an Tir - Traditions and Stories of the Land, an initiative of the Institute of Cornish Studies and connected with the well-established Cornish Audio Visual Archive. Using oral history, storytelling and walking in the lanscape, the project in its own words aims to:

...capture and share stories that consider our relationships with the Cornish landscape. From farming with horses to foraging for goosegrass, furze stogs for firewood to folk songs, thrashing days to childhood games, crying the neck to croust time.

Women's work has been integral to farming, managing the land and conserving it for millennia, right up until today. Cornwall is blessed with a number of women famers, conservationists and cultivators and have been producing the food we eat and taking care of the land we live on. So this project has an important role to play in the continuity of the relationship between women and the land in Cornwall.

Tallys an Tir embraces digital storytelling to reach its audiences such as through its blog and I was particularly impressed with how it combined animation, archive photgraphy and oral history to produce short but deeply compelling videos about some of its subjects such as this testimony from Penzance-based Yorkshire Land Girl, Mickie.

We can learn a lot from this project and hope to produce even half as exciting videos from our activities! Enjoy this.

A day of tribute to Dr. Elspeth Pope

Elspeth Pope

A Memorial Exhibition for the life and work of Dr. Elspeth Pope will be held at the Jamieson Library on Sunday, June 23 as part of the ‘Open Gardens Day, Newmill’. Trustees of the Hypatia Trust will be in attendance. All are welcome to attend, and information will be available about Hypatia-in-the-Woods, Shelton, Washington and the work of the Trust internationally.

A Poetry app for you to try!

Discover the App of inspiration:Words in Air ~ Poetry in Place 20th May in The App Store!

Update for National Poetry Day, October 2014:  App also features Cornish poets.  New poetry group forming for 2015 at Trevelyan House, Penzance and online - please be in contact if you are interested in joining, locally or from a distance. Download a PDF demonstration of this app.

Words in Air App

What do the following places have in common? Westminster Bridge, The White Horse at Westbury, a village in County Antrim, a Hampstead garden, the Tring Zoological Museum, a street in Hammersmith, the Outer Hebrides, Pearson Park in Hull, a quiet stretch of Suffolk coast, The National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, an uninhabited island in Ireland's Lough Gill, a former mill in Yorkshire, a farm in Fyfe, a cottage in Felpham, West Sussex, a station stop in Gloucestershire called Adlestrop . . .

Each of these places inspired a poet. Words in Air is a new app that offers you a unique way into poetry: poetry-in-place, in the palm of your hand. Enjoy a poem instantly, on the very spot which sparked its creation. Discover new poems -- and poets. Re-discover familiar places through a poem. See which poem was inspired by a place nearest to you, across the UK. Stand in the place where these poets stood, and gain a deeper insight into the poem, and the place. Words in Air will pinpoint the place for you that sparked each poem. Visit, virtually and for real, to gain a deeper understanding of the creative process, through the revealing relationship between poetry and place.

You can also access all the poems from this digital anthology of over 50 poems by 29 poets, from wherever you happen to be. Find out more about each poet. Click on a relevant website to further explore their work, and/or the place.

Words in Air is a project that's just beginning. We plan to update the App with more poems, so that more places of inspiration will soon be within your reach. Whether you're planning a trip to, or within the UK, returning home, or an armchair traveller, tap into brilliant contemporary and classic poems any time, any place.

Words in Air is a map of inspiration thanks to these poets: Fleur Adcock, Julia Bird, William Blake, Charlotte Bronte, Andy Brown, Alan Brownjohn, John Burnside, Caroline Carver, Helen Dunmore, Anne-Marie Fyfe, John Greening, Jenny Hamlett, David Harsent, Judith Jedamus, Alan Jenkins, Judith Kazantzis, John Keats, Daljit Nagra, Sean O'Brien, Peter Redgrove, Robin Robertson, Fiona Sampson, Penelope Shuttle, Angela Stoner, George Szirtes, Edward Thomas, William Wordsworth, W.B. Yeats, Tamar Yoseloff.

Created by Shearsman poet Alice Kavounas, expert app developer John Kennedy (Pocket Universe), and leading designer Mike Murphy.

Contact Alice Kavounas: .

Another fruitful playday

The latest from our friends at Mesdames Myrtles rug hooking group. [Thanks Diane and all for the updates and photos. Keep 'em coming Ed.] We now have 7 females under domestic lady, a balmaiden, a fishwife, a dairymaid, a flower picker, a midwife and a land army girl.

As yet, Alice de Lisle has not been attempted but do not despair..she will, eventually! [If you can wait until June we will have information and some contemporary pictures to send your way--not of her but the kind of clothes she would have probably worn.]

26 May: Wise Women at KernowFest, Heartlands

What did we all do before the NHS and professional medical practice? We turned to the women in our communities to help us, cure us and treat us.

History 51 Roadshow: Wise Women

Download Wise Women poster (PDF, 102KB)

When? Sunday 26 May (bank holiday weekend), 12-4.30pm. Where? Chi an Bobel (upstairs), Heartlands, Pool (between Camborne and Redruth). How to find us. What?

  • FREE
  • Create your own charm
  • Smell and handle ingredients and implements
  • Lady of the Manor and her servants’ ailments
  • Medieval housewife and nature's medicine cupboard
  • Meet the "Pellar of Pool"
  • Bring family recipes and old wives' tales
  • Write in the History 51 Cornish Remedy Book

History 51 Roadshow

Women and medicine is the theme of our first History 51 Roadshow FREE event. It will take place at Heartlands on Sunday 26 May 2013 and is part of KernowFest, a massive celebration of all things Cornish, especially food and culture. We obviously come in the culture bit even though some of the medical ingredients on show are edible too.

Wise Women will be a series of continuous demonstrations, digital displays of historical sources, costumed interpretation, and hands-on activities suitable for all ages, including kids, all based on real Cornish sources about the knowledge held by women as healers of their households and communities. We will be dressed up in period costume including a medieval housewife, an aristocratic lady from the 1520s and a Victorian-era white witch or 'pellar' in Cornish.

It is apt this event takes place in Pool, very near to what used to be the West Cornwall Women's Hospital, near Redruth.

History 51 Roadshow is a series of events taking place in 2013 to promote different aspects of women's heritage in local communities in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

History 51 Remedy Book

As part of the event we are inviting people to bring with them their old family cures, treatments and old wives' tales, especially those passed down to them from their mothers, grandmothers and other women in their families and communities.

By collecting these remedies we hope to preserve an important part of our community history which might otherwise be forgotten.


We will be filming the event for the History 51 archives, some of the footage will be turned into a film about our project.

No prescriptions! Please don’t ask us for cures or treatments for your own ailments as we are not trained medical professionals.


Penlee House Gallery and Museum for lending us historical costume for our Pellar character.

Cornwall Record Office for images of Cornish sources.

Heartlands for welcoming us to KernowFest and giving us a free venue.

Steph Haxton for coming up with the idea and helping bring it all together.

Myrtles playday: Ancestors in rugs

The Myrtles are back with an update before their next playday and a sneak peek at some of their work. Here's Diane Cox: The Myrtles are having another Playday this week to work on our individual figures of Cornish women. Here is a pic of mine in progress....she will represent domestic tasks and also several of my husband's female ancestors,all ordinary working class women from the Newlyn area.

I am enjoying how much this project has stimulated my mind, and how I have discovered many little gems of information along the way, and met some wonderful people too!

Inspired by Newlyn ancestors (credit: Diane Cox)