Site of suffragette protest, Wrexham

button-theme-crimebutton_lang_frenchSite of 1912 suffragette protest, Bellevue Park, Wrexham

Suffragettes were led away by police after they heckled David Lloyd George, the future Prime Minister, in Bellevue Park in 1912.

Suffragette-Kitty-Marion
Police lead Suffragette Kitty Marion from the Eisteddfod crowd to safety
Daily Sketch, 5th September 1912: © Museum of London

Bellevue Park opened in 1910. In 1912 it hosted the National Eisteddfod (held in a different place each summer). A crowd of around 16,000 people gathered for the Eisteddfod’s showpiece, the Chairing of the Bard ceremony, which included an address by Lloyd George, then Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Actress and suffragette Kitty Marion interrupted him by shouting: “How dare you have political prisoners fed by force!” She had been force-fed 232 times while on hunger strike in prison, as part of the campaign for women to be allowed to vote in public elections.

Three suffragettes were attacked by the crowd. Their clothes were torn and some of their hair was pulled out. A soldier who defended them was also attacked.  The national press published detailed accounts of the event and received letters expressing outrage at the crowd’s behaviour. When questioned in Parliament about the incident, Lloyd George dismissed the reports as “utter falsehood”.

Some in the Welsh press regarded the protest as an insult to the Eisteddfod. The Rhondda Leader said it had no sympathy with the men who had received “savage retaliation” for siding with the suffragettes at Wrexham, and declared that “women are excitable creatures” who “demand pity more than penalties”.

Wrexham had its own group of non-militant “suffragists”, who did not advocate law-breaking and dissociated themselves from the militant suffragettes. Although the campaign for equal voting rights for women in Britain began in the 1860s, it was not until 1928 that the aim was finally achieved.

When the National Eisteddfod was held in Abergavenny in 1913, organisers feared a repeat of the suffragette protests in Wrexham, as you can read on our page about Abergavenny’s Gorsedd circle.

With thanks to Georgina Gittins

Postcode: LL13 7LY    View Location Map