Manor House
"Women can't vote, we can't speak to who we want, we can't go where we want... we've come a really long way since then." Antonia, kitchen maid
Antonia the kitchen maid
Photograph of Emily Davidson

Above: Emily Davison
Below: She throws herself in front of the King's horse at the Derby

Photograph of the Derby

Snob Status
"We like our food more sanitised nowadays, we like it plastic wrapped from the supermarket, with no noticeable resemblance to animals."
Lady Olliff-Cooper
Edwardian Life:
The Suffragettes

A Different Life for Women
In 1905, life for women would have been very different to life today. Although there had been many changes over the preceding 50 years, women were still seen as very different to men under both the eyes of society and the law. Women were educated differently, they had fewer rights both in and out of marriage, and importantly, they weren't able to vote in national elections.

Much of this stemmed from the view that marriage, rather than a career, was a woman's "natural destiny", and that if a woman did not marry, her life was in some way a failure.

Some of these social attitudes are played out in Manor House, where Miss Anson, Lady Olliff-Cooper's unmarried sister, learns how choosing not to marry could affect a woman's status in an Edwardian household.

In fact until the 1960s, the standard experience in life for almost every woman in Britain would be to get married. In 1901, 85 percent of women over 45 were either married or widowed.

Emmeline Pankhust and the Suffragettes
There had been women's movements for years which had campaigned for suffrage (the right to vote), but in 1903, Emmeline Pankhurst set up the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) - and this was to be a very different organisation from those that went before. Rather than campaign by polite political pressure - heckling in meetings and refusing to pay fines - the WSPU's motto was "deeds not words."

The Union's members - or "Suffragettes" as they were called by the disapproving Daily Mail - lived up to their motto. These women threw eggs, they chained themselves to railings, scattered marbles under police horses' hooves and set fire to pillar boxes. Many were imprisoned, and some even went on hunger strike.

Famously, suffragette Emily Davison ran out in front of the King's horse during the Derby in June 1913 and was killed while campaigning for the suffragette cause.

It was not until after the First World War that their campaigning had results. In the Representation of the People Act of 1918, all women over 30 were given the right to vote alongside adult males.

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