Whitehall Celebrates Women's History Month - Part 3

Thu 11/May/23

Whitehall Celebrates Women's History Month - Part 3

Written by Nicky Lawrence-Gravestock



I remember Miss Maud and Miss Mary seemed quite downcast at the passing of Millicent Fawcett 5 years ago in 1929 and said she was a ‘great woman even for a liberal’ (Miss Maud is a staunch Conservative and is not fond of the idea of the new National Government headed by Ramsay Macdonald). I guessed she approved of her ‘moderate’ position within the women’s suffrage movement. From 1897-1919 Mrs Fawcett led the largest women’s association, the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (2). 


I’ve not been to Westminster Abbey, but according to the sisters, there was a memorial erected to Mrs Fawcett, it’s quite recent, only 3 years old. Apparently, its inscription says: “A wise and courageous Englishwoman. She won citizenship for women” (3).


Well, I’m impressed and I wouldn’t be surprised if one day she had a statue dedicated to her in Parliament Square or such like one day!


Statue of Millicent Fawcett in Parliament Square


In the old days, the Misses would be out playing tennis on the court in the garden, thankfully there’s no making dainty sandwiches for a tennis party today (all that de-boning sardines and slicing egg thinly is a bit of a bother). It’s just preparing a plain supper for the sisters and Mr. Thomas Dunstan Hawes tonight. He’s what I call a strange fellow, he’s been lodging here for over a year now, one would think that he was never going home …


The sisters play for a bit of fun now and to keep trim. Light, white dresses are deemed suitable for the proper amount of exertion. Mind you, at the end of the day, the material is covered in grass stains and dirty marks. That’s mine and Lily’s evening spent soaking the dresses overnight in a copper tub with a dolly bag! I don’t mind too much though, as I respect the Misses a lot. 


Monday is Wash day of course (of which I’m not too fond of, as in bad weather, the damp washing steams up the house and my chest feels like a piece of elastic that has been pulled so taut, it’s going to snap any moment!). 


Honestly, sometimes Lily does test me, she’s a good girl but a bit flighty in her ways, she’s only young, but still! She’d just been the day before to the Kingston Picture House to see “It Happened One Night” (I do love a good talkie myself) and must have been imagining she was Claudette Colbert fluttering her eyelashes at Clark Gable; only the silly girl was standing over the mangle. She just managed to pull her finger back in the nick of time and really, she’s got the scar to prove it!


To be continued…



About the author:

Nicky is a Volunteer at Whitehall Historic House and a member of Sutton Writers.  Between September 2021 – December 2022 she enrolled on three courses for Writing for Wellbeing run by Sutton College located at the Museum.  She decided to stay … and as they say, the rest is history!


References and sources:


( 1) Guardian Article. “Women had the vote in the 1930’s but the old agitation went on”  written by Diana Souhami 


(2) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millicent_Fawcett


(3) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millicent_Fawcett


(4 ) The statue, Parliament Square’s first monument to a woman and also its first sculpture by a woman and marks 100 years since some women won the right to vote.  The memorial was unveiled in 2018.