The Latymer School History Magazine - page 25

unoccupied buildings, many
of which belonged to well-
known members of society.
They broke windows of
prestigious buildings and in
May 1912, 150 Suffragettes
took part in a shop-window-
smashing campaign in
London’s West End.
Their determination was
proven when some
Suffragettes began to resort
to a more destructive tactic —
small bombs. Several were
planted, including St Paul’s
Cathedral, near the Bank of
England and in February
1913, Lloyd George’s week-
end cottage. A bomb was
placed in Westminster
Abbey, beside the
Coronation Chair, in 1914.
And its explosion slightly
damaged the chair and the
‘Stone of Destiny’ below it.
Mary Richardson was also
one of the over 1,000
Suffragettes who went to
prison as a result of militant
activities like these.
Many of those
imprisoned began to
use the Russian
method of hunger
strikes as a weapon, in
protest to being
classed as common
criminals rather than
political prisoners. The
response of the
prisons to force-feed
angered those in the
Suffragette movement,
but also some
members of the
public. Due to the
uproar caused, in
1913 the government
began to release
prisoners until they
recovered, and re-
arrested them to
complete their
sentence. The
Suffragettes called this
Act of Parliament ‘The
Cat and Mouse Act’.
Mary Richardson, who
was imprisoned in HM
Prison Holloway, was
one of the first women to be
force-fed under this act.
The outbreak of the First
World War in 1914 saw
Emmeline Pankhurst, the
founder of the WSPU, call a
stop to the Suffragette
militancy. However, the
legacy of Suffragette
determination was not
forgotten. In 1918, the vote
was given to women in
Britain over the age of 30 (as
long as they met certain
property qualifications) and
finally, in 1928, suffrage was
extended to all women over
the age of 21. At times, the
Suffragettes used extreme
methods to achieve equality.
However, many of them
would argue that their
behaviour was a necessary
response to the injustices of
the government, and that the
damage to the Rokeby Venus
painting was merely a small
price to pay. As Mary
Richardson said, “You can
get another picture”.
Emmeline Pankhurst
being arrested
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