Tuesday 13th continued

July 13, 2009

More  unlocking doors. What’s the matter now? It was a wardress to count the number of panes I had broken. I read until tea came or is it supper?  Another knife with ‘Votes for Women’ scratched on it. I scratched:

“Asquith’s reign has passed away

Winston Churchill’s had his day

Suffragettes have come to stay

Therefore give them Votes”

on the other side.  Just as I finished it the wardress came for the knife. Tea consisted of the usual loaf, I could only manage a few crumbs as it is vile, and a pint of water as I refused the cocoa. My fat will soon be reduced.

I have just finished reading my own book. I’ve had a look out of the window and saw an old man walk past much interested in our broken windows.  A few minutes ago someone in a cell lower down called for 3 cheers for Mrs Pankhurst, then Christabel and then Annie Kenny. I can’t make Kathleen Brown hear me. She answers the knocks but nothing more.

I’m now going to make my bed. An endless day. I hear doors unlocking again. Into bed at 8o’clock.

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Tuesday 13-7-09

July 13, 2009

I heard the bell at a quarter to six and got up after a very good night. The wardress came just after I was dressed. I washed in my pail as best I could and she said “Will you empty your slops please?” which I did. Then I rolled up my bed and made the cell tidy all the time having conversations with Miss Spring in the adjoining cell. I can’t make Kathleen Brown hear. My No. is DX322.

Breakfast just arrived which consists of another lump of that horrible brown bread which latter of course I refused. I read Votes. I tried to eat some of the bread but failed.  McKenzie on her way back to her cell lifted my peephole and said she could not eat her bread. To my joy, I found scratched on the bit of tin curved at one end called a knife,   ”Glorious Christabel” “Courage! Brave heart. Victory is sure” “Help comes to those who work and endure.”

I should have said that before breakfast(!) a wardress came and said “Any applications.”  I asked for the Governor and Doctor.  I am writing this after breakfast. A wardress has just been in and removed my knife(!)  This does not matter as I have my own hedger.

I can see two yards from the window and two church steeples and two little bits of road but I can’t quite make out which they are. I saw a black cat sitting in the far yard sunning itself. Lucky cat. Four Freedom Leaguers came with us but they decided to comply with the regulations under protest after seeing the Governor.  I hear Mrs Garnett in the distance singing. On her way back from the lavatory she knocked at each door and yelled, “Votes for Women.”

I’ve just been out for fresh water. I knocked on Mrs DoveWilcox door but her peephole was bunged with paper. Another wardress has been to know if I wish to see the doctor. I said yes. I find that by putting my chair against the pipes under the window and standing on the back of it I can see more. I saw a lot of prisoners in brown dresses filing into what I take to be the laundry. Also prisoners carrying rubbish to the ash pit and others wheeling barrows of dirty clothes.  Great excitement, I saw a horse and cart. I’ve been reading a little. I’ve read all the rules, the books in the cell are a Bible, a Prayer book, Hymns Ancient and Modern and “A Healthy Home and How to Keep it”.

I just looked out of the window again. Tremendous excitement!  The four Freedom Leaguers are at exercise. I knocked on the wall and told Miss Spring.  The poor wretches are wearing prison dress and walking round and round. I’m sure they must be dizzy.  The Doctor came. I asked for more air. He said that as regards health there is plenty of air. We need not be afraid of our health suffering. Would we not conform to the regulations and so be allowed labour and exercise. I said, “Of course we will not.”  After a short conversation on the subject he departed.  He wasn’t bad but seemed rather amused. Looking out of the window again I see the Freedom Leaguers are still at it. I can just see the tops of the electric cars in the Camden Road. The Fdm Lgrs have gone now.  Miss Spring says it is 10.15. How slowly time passes.  I wonder what everybody is doing outside. I wish someone would come to a window opposite and signal. I have stuffed my peephole with paper. When the Doctor came the wardress pulled it out but I have put it back again. I wonder how long we are to be kept in close confinement. Those outside must be dying to know how the fight is progressing. My tie is such a comfort and inspiration to me. It is delightful to have the dear old colours to look at when the walls seem to close in.  The Governor has just been, accompanied by the matron.  He says he duly reported our wishes to Herbert Gladstone last night but has not yet received any reply. The position is just the same.  I asked for a form of petition.

There are more women exercising; they are dressed in brown. The boots are huge and the clothes most degrading. The governor smelt rather of spirits. He looks rather worried. The Matron is very severe. The wardresses so far have been quite decent. I have forgotten to put down, that when I came back from getting my water the wardress asked me if I would like the cleaner to show me how to roll up my bed.  I said, “It’s alright as I’ve done it. Isn’t it?”  She said it was not rolled in quite the regulation way so I told her it would do for me and she retired.  The doors are unlocking again, I wonder what it is now. Dinner! A tin of broth with a lot of pearl barley in it, two potatoes and the usual lump of bread. Just trying to eat the stuff when in walks the Chaplain and asks me my religion, if I can speak a foreign language and what book would I like. I asked for the catalogue. Finished dinner (ate the potatoes and about 6 spoonfuls of broth.)  I mounted my chair with shoe in hand. We all knocked through to each other and commenced operations. I smashed 3 panes. Wardresses came running. One white with rage, with several others to back her up, bursts into my cell. “Uncover your inspection hole.”

I said, “Uncover my what?”

“Your inspection hole,” pointing to the peephole.

“No,” I said.

“Uncover you inspection hole!”

“No, I won’t!”

“Then we shall. That is what we are here to do,” and with that she pulled out the piece of paper and flung it down into my drinking water.

“Every time you cover it up it will be uncovered.”

Bang goes the door. Another half minute and back they come, “What is your name?” Then one sees it on the card outside the door and they retire.  All is quiet now.  Oh! For a good square meal fit to eat!

Just looked out of the window and saw three painters below. They saw me and smiled. I pushed my purple, white and green tie through the hole in the window and waved it to them. A wardress appeared below so I disappeared.  A wardress brought a petition form and pen and ink and blotting paper. I had just commenced to write when another one came and asked me if I wanted to go out. I went out and washed my plate and spoon. Then I started to write to Gladstone again.

Another wardress, “Do you want a library book?”  I chose ‘Princess Priscilla’s Fortnight’ out of a basketful. Someone else is having the catalogue I’ve finished my petition and have pulled in my belt to the tightest hole. Theresa Garnett looked in my peephole as she passed. Just going to read.

July 12-1909

July 12, 2009

“We arrived at Bow Street at 10 o’clock this morning and were tried and sentenced. I got one month second division as did all the others except Miss C****. C*****, B**** and Mrs H********* S****** who had six weeks as the windows they broke were plate glass and more valuable. We left Bow Street at about 4.30 Miss M** and Mrs L**** stayed to the last teaching us songs. There were 18 of us in Black Maria, the atmosphere and jolting indescribable. A regalia floating from the end of an umbrella was held through a hole in the roof all the way.

On arriving at Holloway we were all taken into the corridor outside the reception cells. Our names were called and we answered. Miss W***** then asked to see the Governor. The wardress who had tow coloured hair and was very disagreeable, fetched the matron who wanted us to answer to our names again. We refused and asked again to see the Governor. At last he was sent for. “What’s this,” he said, “a mutiny?” He refused to see us all together. He wasn’t in the habit of addressing public meetings, he said. He went into his room and we decided that Miss W***** should go in and see him alone.

After hearing from Miss W***** that we intended to rebel against all second division rules, the Governor said he would let us keep our own clothing and bags until he communicated with the Home Secretary if we went quietly to our cells and on the understanding that we were not allowed to go to Chapel or Exercise. He refused to see us collectively in the morning but would see us separately. We agreed to go to the cells.

I was taken over with K******* B**** and was put in a cell next to her. I discovered that Miss S***** was on the other side.

A little brown loaf, absolutely uneatable and a pint of cocoa were brought. I ate an apple and some sandwiches I had left from lunch, made up my bed and  read Votes. The bed consists of a wooden platform raised about 4 inches from the ground and which can be placed on end when not in use, a mattress, a pillow stuffed with horse hair, two sheets, a blanket which appeared to be made of woven string and a rug. It began to get dusk so I prepared for sleep.

When sitting on my bed in my nightgown combing my hair the door was flung open and the wardress announced the doctor. He says, “I understand you do not wish to be medically examined.”

I say “No.”

He departs. I am in bed, which is not so bad, and it’s about 8.30. Delighted to be able to rest at last.

Page 1 Diary

July 11th 2009

July 11, 2009

Today, while sorting some of my late Father’s papers, I came across an envelope marked Suffragette’s Diary and I began to read. Serendipity indeed – the entries begin on July 12th 1909, one hundred years ago come tomorrow.

What follows is a transcript of the Diary, written by an unknown Suffragette, who was imprisoned in Holloway , along with a number of other window breakers.

I have used only initials for the other prisoners though they are in the Diary in full. The only name we don’t know is that of the author.

As my Great Grandmother was a Suffragette, also imprisoned in Holloway, I have a particular interest and intend to read, transcribe and publish each day so don’t yet know how the story will unfold.