Votes for Women

Our 12th December Fine Art sale will include a brooch awarded to women who were imprisoned during the fight for women's suffrage.

Lot 1271 - A Suffragette Holloway brooch, in silver metal, presented to Barbara Joule, circa 1912, the silver portcullis and chains adorned with enamelled convicts arrow in the Suffragette colours, stamped 'Silver Toye & Co London', with safety chain, 26 x 22mm. Sold with supporting photograph of Barbara Joule. Est. £500-800 Holloway -brooch

Designed by Sylvia Pankhurst, who was an artist as well as active campaigner, the Holloway brooch was awarded to those who were imprisoned for the cause in the five years before WWI. The portcullis representing the House of Commons is adorned with the convict arrow symbol in the WSPU colours of purple, white and green.

By 1900, women had been campaigning for the right to vote in parliamentary elections for over half a century, to no avail. The creation of the Women's Social and Political Union (W.S.P.U) in 1903 by Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters galvanised the 'Votes for Women' campaign as they intended to draw more attention to the cause of women's suffrage through 'Deeds not Words'.

After relocating from Manchester to London in 1906, their fight became a highly public and sometimes violent struggle which attracted maximum publicity. The move enabled the "suffragettes" to maintain a presence in Whitehall; petitioning Downing Street, heckling M.P.s and chaining themselves to government buildings. Further action involved smashing windows and blowing up post boxes. This inevitably led to clashes with the police and imprisonment.

Barbara Joule's name appears on the Suffragette Roll of Honour 1904-1914 and this brooch has been passed down through her family. As can be seen from this photograph of Barbara, she was a chauffeur and clearly not willing to accept what was a woman's accepted sphere of influence at the start of the last century. The brooch was recently on display in Moyses Hall Museum here in Bury St Edmunds, but others are held in the Museum of London and the UK Parliament collections.


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