Women’s Day service remembers Suffragette Emily Davison

The congregation walk from St Mary's Church to the churchyard. Picture by Doug Harrison.

Floral tributes have been laid in memory of Northumberland Suffragette Emily Wilding Davison.

Crowds gathered at St Mary’s Church in Morpeth earlier this afternoon for an International Women’s Day service, which also marked 100 years from the first time women could vote in the UK – the Representation of the People Act, passed in 1918, allowed women over the age of 30 who met a property qualification to vote.

Penni Blythe was among those who laid flowers on Emily Davison's grave. Picture by Doug Harrison.

Community leaders joined a group of young people and members of the public to reflect on the contribution of women to society in general and particularly highlighted Emily Davison.

After the service, the congregation walked to the churchyard and a number of these people laid flowers on her grave.

Emily, whose family home was in Longhorsley, joined the Women’s Social and Political Union, founded by Emmeline Pankhurst to press for women’s rights, in 1906.

Within two years she was a chief steward at meetings and by 1910 she was a paid organiser. By this time she had been arrested and imprisoned several times, going on hunger strike and being force-fed.

A group of young people attended the service and went to the churchyard afterwards. Picture by Doug Harrison.

There is no doubt that Emily was a fearsome campaigner, but Morpeth genealogist Maureen Howes’ research about her also shows another side.

There are stories of musical soirees with friends, delivering food parcels to soup kitchens, having a strong sense of humour and being beloved of children.

She would rush off the train to buy sweets for a young relative, give money to the boy who swept the path at church and also take babies out in their prams.

The Suffragette was struck by the King’s horse at the 1913 Epsom Derby after stepping onto the course in a protest that went tragically wrong.

International Women's Day was marked in Morpeth today. Picture by Doug Harrison.

She died four days later.

On Saturday, part of Morpeth Town Hall will be turned into a Suffragette Tearoom and Market to highlight the continuing importance of voting in modern elections or referendums, both at national and local levels.

Between 10am and 4pm, there will be some stalls and displays staffed by helpers in Suffragette costumes – with plenty of freshly-made scones and cakes to enjoy, games and face painting for children and performances by the all-women Werca’s Folk choir.

Emily Davison's grave. Picture by Doug Harrison.

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