international women's day 2011

International Women’s Week Commemoration for Suffragettes in Bath 7th—11th March 2011

Posted on: 3 March 2011

The Suffragettes’ Tree: Centennial Events In Celebration Of International Women’s Day

Between 1909 and 1912, over sixty suffragettes who were recovering from the harsh treatment they had received while imprisoned for their political activism came to stay with the Blathwayt family at Eagle House in Batheaston, Somerset. As committed supporters of the women’s movement, the Blathwayts wanted not only to help the women recover physically, but also to record, in the very landscape, the cause for which they struggled. As such, they created a very special garden in the grounds of their villa, encouraging the suffragettes who stayed with them to plant trees and bushes commemorating their efforts and their hopes for the future of women’s political equality.

Photographs of this beautiful field of trees, or ‘Annie’s Arboretum’ as it was also called, after the suffragette Annie Kenney, can be viewed online via Bath in Time (www.bathintime.co.uk — see ‘Social History’).

This unique work of feminist landscape history survived until the late 1960s, when it was destroyed to make way for a housing estate. At present, only one of the original trees remains from the original arboretum: a large Austrian Pine planted by the suffragette Rose Lamartine Yates (1875–1954) on 30th October, 1909.

While historians, such as Dr Cynthia Hammond (Montreal) and Prof. June Hannam (UWE), have done much to recover the history of the suffragettes’ trees in Bath, this unique piece of women’s history remains largely unknown to the general public, and uncommemorated.

On International Women’s Day, 8th March, 2011, The Centre for History & Culture at Bath Spa University, in conjunction with Bath & Northeast Somerset Council, will celebrate the centenary of this unique piece of suffrage history in Bath, with the symbolic planting of commemorative suffragettes’ trees in Royal Victoria Park, Alice Park, and Bath Spa University. These plantings, which we hope will attract widespread media attention and involve leading female politicians and public figures, as well as the general public, will serve as a living testimony to all those — suffragettes and suffragists — who contended to win votes for women and secure women’s rights as full citizens.

They will also serve as the focal point for a week of public events planned to celebrate yet another centenary, that of International Women’s Day itself. These will include an exhibition of art, a concert of music, a creative writing event, a panel discussion and lectures featuring leading academics and public figures.

Programme of events for International Women’s Day http://www.bathspa.ac.uk/schools/humanities-and-cultural-industries/research/history-and-culture/final-programme-for-iww.pdf

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