Suffragettes in the Surrey Hills 

Suffragettes in the Surery Hills 

Every weekend between 1906 and 1912 the leaders of the 'suffragette' campaign came down by train to Holmwood. The Mascot (the Dutch House), home of social campaigner Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence (1867-1954) and her husband, Frederick (1871-1961), was the country home of Mrs Pankhurst's Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU). Women recovered there from forced feeding and campaigns were planned there. In 1912 the house became the focus of anti -government protest.

Emmeline lead the WSPU with Mrs Pankhurst. She devised its purple, white and green colours; and, with Fred she edited 'Votes for Women' magazine. It was her fundraising and organisational skills, and Fred's wealth, that enabled the WSPU to make the impact that it did.

In 1912 Fred, Emmeline and Mrs Pankhurst were convicted of consirpacy to incite persons to commit malicious damage after a window-smashing raid in London. All were sentenced to 9 months and Fred and Emmeline were both forcibly fed while on hunger strike. (It was one of 6 spells of imprisonment for Emmeline.) When Fred refused to pay the costs of their prosecution the government put the bailiffs into The Mascot and auctioned the contents.

For 6 weeks the WSPU conducted a campaign in Dorking and Holmwood to embarrass the government. They held rallies in Holmwood, Ockley, Westcott, Bookham and, nightly, in Dorking where organizer Charlie Marsh assured worried tradesmen that there would be no window breaking spree. On 31st October 1912 3-400 people gathered for the auction of the contents of The Mascot, many coming down by train in suffragette colours. Most of the couple's possessions were bought back by supporters.

Their wealth now a liability to the increasingly militant Pankhursts, the Pethick-Lawrences were forded to leave the organization that they had built up alongside Mrs Pankhurst. They spent the res of their lives campaigning for peace, freedom and equality, for the rights of women and the welfare of children. Entering Parliament as a Labour MP in 1924, Fred was created 1st Baron Lawrence of Peaslake in 1946 when he became Clement Attlee's secretary of state for India.