On the 10th April 2011 the Ipswich Women's Festival Group organised and hosted a celebratory dinner and evening of talks and entertainment to relive the spirit of the Ipswich Suffragettes.
On the 3rd April 1911 up to thirty women spent the night in one of Old Museum Rooms (now Arlingtons Brasserie) to avoid being at home and completing a census form. The idea was that:
If women don't count, don't count women.
Women all over the country were doing the same, many staying at friends' houses with notes on their front doors saying why they weren't at home. Some women refused to complete the forms saying:
If I am intelligent enough to complete this form then I can surely put an X on a ballot paper
Contemporary accounts reveal the women spent the night singing songs and telling stories.
The suffragette colours are white, green and purple and women attending the anniversary event were asked to dress in those colours. Funds raised were donated to Ipswich Women's Aid, now Lighthouse and to fund the production of the Ipswich Women's History Trail. Lynne Mortimer hosted the evening which was a sell out attended by over 100 women.
The evening began with a suffragette song, (sung by Ann Fox) The Awakening, which was actually sung at Arlingtons in 1911.
After a 1911 themed three-course meal, including a celebratory suffragette cake, there were talks and slide shows about the suffragette campaign. The first was from Jill Liddington, Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Leeds, a historian who specialises in women's suffrage history.
Joy Bounds, a member of our group and a local writer and historian focussing on women's issues, followed Jill with a talk on the local women involved in the campaign.
Fran Flowers then led the whole room in suffragette songs including The March of the Women by Dame Ethel Smyth who wrote it in 1911 for the Women's Social and Political Union.
The evening was a great success and enjoyed by all.
For further information about the event in the Old Museum Rooms see the entry about Constance Andrews in Ipswich Women.