Day 4: Where are all the Women?

04.03.18 |
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Have you ever wondered where the names of London’s streets come from? Many of them give recognition to historical figures, but disappointingly few of these are women.

 

Doughty Street Chambers – and the #DoughtyStWomen - are proud to be based in Bloomsbury, with its rich history of inspirational women leaders from politics, law, journalism, and art. Within a few hundred metres of our chambers are buildings where the suffragettes built their campaigns, as well as the former home of the first woman barrister in England and Wales. Helena Normanton QC lived and worked a block north, on Mecklenburgh Square. 

 

Yet the streets we walk every day are named instead for men: many of them wealthy landowners or benefactors whose public contribution stemmed principally from their wealth.  Of the women honoured on our street signs now, many are profiled not in their own right but simply as the wives of historically high-profile men.

 

To celebrate International Women’s Day 2018, and the centenary of women’s suffrage,  #DoughtyStWomen are reimagining our streets renamed.  For eight days between 1 March and International Women’s Day on 8 March we are focussing on one of our local Bloomsbury streets, honouring eight of the leaders of the women’s suffrage movement who had connections in the area and who are too often forgotten.

 

Share these stories, follow us on social media and help us honour Bloomsbury’s inspirational feminist history.

 

#DoughtyStWomen #IWD2018

 

 

Day 1: 1 March 2018

Doughty Street became Lyons Street – read about Jane Lyons here

 

Day 2: 2 March 2018

Guilford Street became Lawson Street – read about Marie Lawson here.

 

Day 3: 3 March 2018

Roger Street became Kerr Street. Read about Harriet Kerr here.

 

Day 4: 4 March 2018

Gray’s Inn Road becomes Singh Street

#DoughtyStWomen Rebecca Trowler QC and Angela Patrick

 

Gray’s Inn Road was named after Lord Gray of Wilton, owner of a local inn or town house which was later leased to lawyers in the 16th century.

 

Today, we reimagine it as Singh Street, in honour of Princess Sophia Duleep Singh (1876-1948).

 

Sophia Duleep Singh was born in London, the daughter of the exiled last Maharaja of the Sikh Empire.  Despite growing up with access to many privileges of the aristocracy (Queen Victoria was her godmother and she lived at Hampton Court) she became one of the leaders of the suffragette resistance.

 

She joined the Women’s Suffrage and Political Union (“WSPU”) in 1909. She worked closely with the WSPU when they were based near Doughty Street, at Clement’s Inn. She used her relative affluence to help fund the movement, and was known for selling copies of The Suffragette newspaper in Hampton Court. She was also an active member of the Women’s Tax Resistance League (“WTRL”) and had her property seized for her refusal to pay taxes. 

 

Ms Singh was among the leaders of the protest on “Black Friday”, 18 November 1910 at which more than 150 women were violently assaulted. In 1911 she threw herself in front of the car of the Prime Minister Herbert Henry Asquith bearing a “Give Votes to Women” banner. After 1918 she joined the Suffragette Fellowship.  She became its President in 1928 following the death of Emmeline Pankhurst.

 

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