Every day during Women’s History Month, we’re highlighting a different inspirational Essex woman from the last 100 years. For the first week, we have focused on great campaigners.
We started the month with Muriel Lester. Born in Leyston, she was a pacifist who created a holiday home for poor children and toured with Mahatma Gandhi. She was also twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Grace Chappelow was a Suffragette and lived in Hatfield Peverel. She was arrested more than once for her activities while protesting. A volunteer at Chelmsford Museum recently wrote a Wikipedia article about her.
Another Suffragette was Ethel Haslam from Ilford. She was secretary of the local branch of the WSPU (Women’s Social and Political Union) and a teacher. Ethel was dismayed to find her pay as a teacher was cut after she married.
Many of the iconic posters used by the Suffrage movement were designed by Catherine Courtauld, who was based in Braintree.
From Southend, we highlighted several “campaigning women”. Rosina Sky was a single parent who ran a tobacconist shop while also being an active Suffragette. Councillor A H Hawken, who founded the first child welfare clinic in Southend in 1925. That year, she also became one of the first female Justices of the Peace. We also looked at Lady Gwendolen Guinness, who was elected as Southend’s first female MP in 1927.
Southend Museums are really keen to know more about these women, so please do get in touch if you’re able to help with the research.
Another MP was Leah Manning. She was elected MP for Epping in 1945, was a campaigner for education reform and rescued Basque women and children from Spanish Civil War
Ada Cole was born in Norfolk, but was instrumental in setting up a charity to care for animals in Roydon. She was upset by the state of horses returning from WWI and campaigned for animal welfare.
Joyce Baldwin who was born in Essex, but later moved to Nottingham. She was a biblical scholar and early campaigner for women’s ministry. She worked as a missionary in China during the 1940s and went on to become Principal of Dalton House Theological College.
Don’t forget, there are lots of ways to get involved with helping us celebrate Strong Essex Women. Find out more on our Volunteering page.