Hard Work – but Glorious is the first book devoted to exploring the story of the women’s suffrage campaign in Herefordshire. All sides of the debate are covered: the militant suffragettes and peaceful suffragists, often working collectively in the county, ranged against the anti-suffrage activists who were equally passionate about their opposition to women gaining the Parliamentary vote.
Weaving a narrative through the 19th and early 20th centuries, the chapters bring together well-known characters and hitherto undiscovered individuals, such as:
Ethel Davis, who arrived in Hereford in 1911 and as local secretary to the Women’s Social and Political Union brought a vigorous new brand of suffrage campaigning to the county. Her husband, Reverend George Herbert Davis, was a popular speaker at suffragette rallies and achieved national notoriety in June 1913, officiating with other clergymen at the funeral service of Emily Wilding Davison.
Constance Radcliffe Cooke, who lived for many years at Much Marcle and was active in the suffrage movement despite the opposition of her father Charles Radcliffe Cooke, who was the owner of Hellens Manor and an anti-suffragist MP.
Charles Anthony Jr, who began crusading for women’s rights in the 1860s, continuing for many years in print through his editorship of the Hereford Times. Financial difficulties eventually led to the sale of the paper to an unsympathetic new owner, silencing all support for votes for women.
Author Clare Wichbold began uncovering these stories about the significance of Hereford to the suffrage campaign when she was working with activity officer Sarah Hollingdale on the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) Eastern Cloisters Project at Hereford Cathedral. Their research led to the NLHF-funded Violet Plaques initiative, highlighting a number of unsung women and men who played a role in bringing about universal suffrage, with temporary plaques around the city of Hereford and information available online and in leaflets.
It was clear that there was more to be discovered, and while the Covid-19 pandemic brought opportunities for in-person archival research to a temporary halt, being furloughed from her current job allowed Clare Wichbold to supplement her material using online resources and prepare Hard Work – but Glorious for publication. The title comes from a letter sent in 1908 by Gladice Keevil, head of the Midlands office of the Women’s Social and Political Union, to Herefordshire suffragist Bea Parlby, asking her to help rally local campaigners to attend a Women’s Demonstration in Hyde Park, London.
Clare Wichbold says: ‘I was thrilled to have the opportunity to explore the remarkable stories behind the suffrage campaign in Herefordshire. Some surprising discoveries have come to light about the people on either side of the suffrage debate, both for and against votes for women. I’m delighted to be able to share my research in Hard Work – But Glorious, and hope that my readers will be inspired to find out more.’
‘I am delighted that the story of the Herefordshire campaign for women’s suffrage is now being told – and by such a diligent researcher.’
(Elizabeth Crawford, author, The Women’s Suffrage Movement: a reference guide and The Women’s Suffrage Movement in Britain and Ireland: a regional survey)
Clare Wichbold, MBE is a professional fundraiser who has worked in Herefordshire for over 20 years, at Herefordshire Council, Hereford Cathedral, and now at The Courtyard Centre for the Arts. A former archaeologist, she became interested in the women’s suffrage campaign as chairman of the Hereford Three Choirs Festival centenary celebration of votes for women in 2018. This is her first book.
Available online from: www.ledburybooksandmaps.co.uk or in person Ledbury Books and Maps 20 High Street, Ledbury, HR8 1DS Tel: 01531 633226