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SUFFRAGE BLOGS

  • Writer's pictureMapping Women's Suffrage

A Blue Plaque for ‘Dorset Hall’ home to Suffragette Rose Lamartine Yates.

News Update - Tara Morton, Mapping Women's Suffrage

 
New blue plaque installed at Dorset Hall. Source: Barbara Gorna.
New blue plaque installed at Dorset Hall. Source: Barbara Gorna.

In February 2021, Mapping Women’s Suffrage ran a story about a new campaign to ‘Save Dorset Hall’ the former home of Women’s Social and Political (WSPU) campaigner and suffragette Rose Lamartine Yates in Wimbledon. The campaign was started by women’s rights campaigner and local resident Barbara Gorna who among her many other achievements was architect of the Sex Discrimination (No. 2) Bill, now part of the Equality Act 2010, and has recently been commissioned to co-write a new book on suffragettes in Paris.


Barbara submitted Rose and her Dorset Hall home, where she lived with husband Tom and son Paul, to the project for inclusion on the suffrage map. Dorset Hall was not only Rose’s home but also served as a hub for suffragette activity with WSPU activists Mary Leigh, Mary Gawthorpe and Emily Wilding Davison (with whom Rose was good friends) among her many visitors.


Rose hosting a WSPU event in the garden of Dorset Hall celebrating the release of suffragette hunger strikers, June 1912. Source: The John Innes Society and with the kind permission of Yolande Yates.
Rose hosting a WSPU event in the garden of Dorset Hall celebrating the release of suffragette hunger strikers, June 1912. Source: The John Innes Society and with the kind permission of Yolande Yates.

It was through this collaboration we learned about Barbara’s ‘Save Dorset Hall’ campaign. She explained how she was saddened to see the derelict building on her commute, abandoned and dishevelled, despite its rich suffrage history. Barbara was determined to rescue it and we were eager to support her wonderful campaign, and so published a promotional blog about its aims and ambitions. You can read Barbara’s 2021 blog below for more details.


Mapping Women’s Suffrage is now thrilled to report on the fabulous progress Barbara and her team have made. She lately reports that ‘Dorset Hall is now firmly on the map. After almost three years of campaigning, the roof is fixed…and…it also now has a blue plaque’.



Some of The Dorset Hall ‘fixing’ team at work. Simon Hood (centre), Grandson Max (left), retired architect and ‘team hero’ Hugh Morgan (right). Source: Barbara Gorna.
Some of The Dorset Hall ‘fixing’ team at work. Simon Hood (centre), Grandson Max (left), retired architect and ‘team hero’ Hugh Morgan (right). Source: Barbara Gorna.

However, it hasn’t been easy. Barbara explains that ‘the building and its suffrage occupants were turned down twice by the official blue plaque quango, because Rose and the house ‘weren’t important enough’’. In her indomitable fashion, Barbara and the team which include family and friends, chief among them husband Simon Hood, ‘refused to give up’. Barbara describes how they ‘persuaded Merton Council to award Rose and Dorset Hall a plaque of their own’. Leader of the Council, Ross Garrod, launched the blue plaque event with a toast to Rose, and the group were joined by Rose’s granddaughter, Yolande Yates.



From left: Barbara Gorna, Yolande Yates, and Leader of the Council, Ross Garrod at the recent blue plaque event. Source: Barbara Gorna.
From left: Barbara Gorna, Yolande Yates, and Leader of the Council, Ross Garrod at the recent blue plaque event. Source: Barbara Gorna.

The Dorset Hall Group’s ambition is to use Rose’s former home for the public good, and we’re looking forward to seeing how this important campaign to recognise, to save, and to maintain a building so historically significant to the women’s suffrage movement unfolds. Barbara, familiar with the political machinations of both Houses of Parliament, also updated me that ‘written questions have been asked in the House of Lords about the importance of maintaining buildings of significance to women's history and keeping them firmly on the map.’


To find out more about Barbara and the team’s ongoing work, visit www.dorsethall.org and Mapping Women’s Suffrage we will continue to report on new developments. You can see more photographs and read Barbara’s biography about suffragette Rose on our map.


 

NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this blog are soley those of the author. Any views and opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of Mapping Women's Suffrage, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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