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Eagle House (suffragette's rest)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Eagle House
Eagle House - - 329307.jpg
Eagle House in 2010
Location within Somerset
General information
CountryEngland, United Kingdom
Coordinates51°24′49″N 2°19′06″W / 51.41361°N 2.31833°W / 51.41361; -2.31833
DesignationsGrade II listed[1]

Eagle House is a Grade II* listed building in Batheaston, Somerset, near Bath.[2] Before the First World War, the house had extensive grounds.

When Emily Blathwayt and her husband, Colonel Linley Blathwayt, owned the house, it was used, from 1909 to 1912, as a refuge for suffragettes who had been released from prison after hunger strikes. It became known as the Suffragette's Retreat. Emily Blathwayt was a suffragette and member of the Women's Social and Political Union.

Between April 1909 and July 1911, trees were planted in the grounds to commemorate individual suffragettes; at least 47 were planted .[3] Known as Annie's Arboretum, after Annie Kenney, the trees were destroyed in the 1960s when a council estate was built. Only one tree, an Australian Pine planted in 1909 by Rose Lamartine Yates, remains.[4]

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0CCUS 16 - Women in the 19th Century Hi, I’m John Green; this is CrashCourse U.S. history and today we’re going to talk about wonder women. Mr. Green, Mr. Green, finally we get to the history of the United States as seen through the lens of Marvel comic superheroes. Oh, Me from the Past, you sniveling little idiot. Wonder Woman is from the DC Universe. Also this is the study of history, which means a constant reexamination and redefinition of what it means to be a hero, and in the case of this episode, it’s about taking the first steps towards acknowledging that not all heroes worthy of historical recognition are men. So we’re going to talk about how women transformed pre-Civil War America as they fought to improve prisons, schools, decrease public drunkenness, and end slavery. And while fighting for change and justice for others, American women discovered that the prisoners, children, and slaves they were fighting for weren’t the only people being oppressed and marginalized in the American democracy. Intro So in the colonial era, most American women of European descent lived lives much like those of their European counterparts: They were legally and socially subservient to men and trapped within a patriarchal structure. Lower and working class women were actually more equal to men of their own classes, but only because they were, like, equally poor. As usual, it all comes back to economics. In general, throughout world history, the higher the social class, the greater the restrictions on women—although high class women have traditionally had the lowest mortality rates, which is one of the benefits of you know doors and extra lifeboats and whatnot. So at least you get to enjoy that oppression for many years. As previously noted, American women did participate in the American Revolution, but they were still expected to marry and have kids rather than, like, pursue a career. Under the legal principle of “coverture” actually husbands held authority over the person, property and choices of their wives. Also since women weren’t permitted to own property and property ownership was a precondition for voting, they were totally shut out of the political process. Citizens of the new Republic were therefore definitionally male, but women did still improve their status via the ideology of “Republican Motherhood.” Women were important to the new Republic because they were raising children—ESPECIALLY MALE CHILDREN—who would become the future voters, legislators, and honorary doctors of America. So women couldn’t themselves participate in the political process, but they needed to be educated some because they were going to potty train those who would later participate in the political process. What’s that? There were no potties? Really? Apparently instead of potties they had typhoid. Actually it was a result of not having potties. So even living without rights in a pottyless nation, the Republican Mother idea allowed women access to education, so that they could teach their children. Also women—provided they weren’t slaves--were counted in determining the population of a state for representation purposes, so that was at least an acknowledgement that they were at, like, five fifths human. And then the market revolution had profound effects on American women, too, because as production shifted from homes to factories, it shifted away from women doing the producing. This led to the so-called “cult of domesticity,” which like most cults, I am opposed to. That’s right, Stan, I’m opposed to the Blue Oyster Cult, The Cult, The Cult of Personality by In Living Color, and the three remaining Shakers. Sorry, Shakers. But who are we kidding? You’re not watching. You’re too busy dancing. The cult of domesticity decreed that a woman’s place was in the home, so rather than making stuff, the job of women was to enable their husbands to make stuff, by providing food and a clean living space, but also by providing what our favorite historian Eric Foner called “non-market values like love, friendship, and mutual obligation,” which is the way we talk about puppies these days. And indeed that’s in line with actual story titles from early 19th century American women’s magazines, like “Woman, a Being to Come Home To” and “Woman: Man’s Best Friend.” Oh, it’s time for the Mystery Document? I hope it’s from “Woman --- Man’s Best Friend.” The rules here are simple. I either get the author of the Mystery Document right...oh, hey there, eagle...or I get shocked. Let’s see what we’ve got. “Woman is to win everything by peace and love; by making herself so much respected, esteemed and loved, that to yield to her opinions and to gratify her wishes, will be the free-will offering of the heart. … But the moment woman begins to feel the promptings of ambition, or the thirst for power, her aegis of defense is gone. All the sacred protection of religion, all the generous promptings of chivalry, all the poetry of romantic gallantry, depend upon woman’s retaining her place as dependent and defenseless, and making no claims, and maintaining no right but what are the gifts of honor, rectitude and love.” Well it was definitely a dude and I have no idea which dude, so I’m just going to guess John C. Calhoun because he’s a bad person. No? Well, what can you do? It wasn’t a dude? It was apparently Harriet Beecher Stowe’s sister Catharine who was an education reformer and yet held all of those opinions, so aaaaAAAAH. So I assume Stan brought up Harriet Beecher Stowe’s sister to point out that it wasn’t just men who bought into the Cult of Domesticity. The idea of true equality between men and women was so radical that almost no one embraced it. Like, despite the economic growth associated with the market economy, women’s opportunities for work were very limited. Only very low paying work was available to them and in most states they couldn’t control their own wages if they were married. But, still poor women did find work in factories or as domestic servants or seamstresses. Some middle class women found work in that most disreputable of fields, teaching, but the cult of domesticity held that a respectable middle class woman should stay at home. The truth is, most American women had no chance to work for profit outside their houses, so many women found work outside traditional spheres in reform movements. Okay, let’s go to the Thought Bubble. Reform movements were open to women partly because if women were supposed to be the moral center of the home, they could also claim to be the moral conscience of the nation. Thus it didn’t seem out of the ordinary for women to become active in the movement to build asylums for the mentally ill, for instance, as Dorothea Dix was, or to take the lead in sobering the men of America. Many of the most famous advocates for legally prohibiting the sale of alcohol in the US were women, like Carry Nation attacked bars with a hatchet and not because she’d had a few too many. The somewhat less radical Frances Willard founded the Women’s Christian Temperance Union in 1874, which would be one of the most powerful lobbying groups in the United States by the end of the 19th century. And women gave many temperance lectures featuring horror stories of men who, rather than seeking refuge from the harsh competition of the market economy and the loving embrace of their homes, found solace at the bottom of a glass or at the end of a beer hose. And by the way, yes, there were bars that allowed you to drink as much beer as you could, from a hose, for a nickel. Today, these establishments are known as frat houses. These temperance lectures would tell of men spending all their hard earned money on drink, leaving wives and children—there were always children—starving and freezing, because in the world of the temperance lecture, it was always winter. Now don’t get me wrong: Prohibition was a disaster, because 1. Freedom, and 2. It’s the only time we had to amend the constitution to be like, “Just kidding about that other amendment,” but it’s worth remembering that back then people drank WAY more than we do now, and also that alcohol is probably a greater public health issue than some recreational drugs that remain illegal. But regardless, the temperance movement made a huge difference in American life because eventually, male and female supporters of temperance realized that women would be a more powerful ally against alcohol if they could vote. Thanks Thought Bubble. So, in 1928, critic Gilbert Seldes wrote that if prohibition had existed in 1800, “the suffragists might have remained for another century a scattered group of intellectual cranks.” And to quote another historian, “the most urgent reasons for women to want to vote in the mid-1800s were alcohol related: They wanted the saloons closed down, or at least regulated. The wanted the right to own property, and to shield their families’ financial security from the profligacy of drunken husbands. They wanted the right to divorce those men, and to have them arrested for wife beating, and to protect children from being terrorized by them. To do all these things they needed to change the laws that consigned married women to the status of chattel. And to change those laws, they needed the vote.” Many women were also important contributors to the anti-slavery movement, although they tended to have more subordinate roles. Like, abolitionist Maria Stewart was the first African American woman to lecture to mixed male and female audiences. Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote the terrible but very import ant Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Sarah and Angelina Grimke, daughters of a South Carolina slaveholder, converted to Quakerism and became outspoken critics of slavery. Sarah Grimke even published the Letters on the Equality of the Sexes in 1838, which is pretty much what the title suggests. By the way, Stan, you could have made Sarah Grimke’s letters the Mystery Document. I would have gotten that. But I want to say one more thing about Harriet Beecher Stowe. There’s a reason we read Uncle Tom’s Cabin in history classes and not in literature ones, but Uncle Tom’s Cabin introduced millions of Americans to the idea that African American people were people. At least in 19th century readers, Uncle Tom’s Cabin humanized slaves to such a degree that it was banned throughout most of the south. So many women involved in the abolitionist movement, when studying slavery, noticed that there was something a little bit familiar. Now, some male abolitionists, notably Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison became supporters of women’s rights, but ultimately the male leaders of the anti-slavery movement denied women’s demands for equality, believing that any calls for women’s rights would undermine the cause of abolition. And they may have had a point because slavery only existed in parts of the country whereas women existed in all of it. In fact, one of the arguments used by pro-slavery forces was that equality under the law for male slaves might lead to a slippery slope ending with, like, equality for WOMEN. And out of this emerging consciousness of their own subordinate position, the movement for women’s rights was born. The most visible manifestation of it was the issue of woman’s suffrage, raised most eloquently at the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848 where Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, Susan B. Anthony and many others wrote and published the Declaration of Sentiments, modeled very closely on the Declaration of Independence. Except, in some ways this declaration was much more radical than the Declaration of Independence because it took on the entire patriarchal structure. Okay, so there are three things I want to quickly point out about the 19th century movement for women’s rights. First, like abolitionism, it was an international movement. Often American feminists travelled abroad to find allies, prefiguring the later transatlantic movement of other advocates for social justice like Florence Kelley and W.E.B DuBois. Secondly, for the most part, like other reform movements, the women’s movement was primarily a middle-class or even upper class effort. Most of the delegates at Seneca Falls, for instance, were from the middle class. There were no representatives of, like, cotton mills, but this didn’t mean that 19th century feminists didn’t acknowledge the needs of working women. Like, Sojourner Truth, probably the most famous black woman abolitionist, spoke eloquently of the plight of working class women, especially slaves, since she’d been one until 1827. And other women recognized that women needed to be able to participate in the market economy to gain some economic freedom. Now, of course all the women who wrote about the moral evils of 19th century America or spoke out or took hatchets to saloons were doing what we would now recognize as work. But they were not being paid. Amelia Bloomer got paid, though, because she recognized that it was impossible for women to easily participate in economic activities because of their crazy clothes. So she popularized a new kind of clothing featuring a loose fitting tunic, trousers, and eponymous undergarments. But then Bloomer and her pants were ridiculed in the press and in the streets, and this brings up the third important thing to remember about the 19th century women’s movement. It faced strong resistance. Patriarchy, like the force, is strong, which is why Luke and Yoda and Darth Vader and Obi-Wan and whoever Samuel Jackson played...all dudes. By the way, why did they train Luke up and not Princess Leia who was cooler and had more to fight for and was less screwed up? Patriarchy. Many women’s rights advocates were fighting to overturn not just laws, but also attitudes. Some of those goals, such as claiming greater control over the right to regulate their own sexual activity and whether or not to have children were twisted by critics to claim that women advocated “free love.” It’s interesting to note that the United States ended slavery more than 50 years before it granted women the right to vote and that although much of the march towards equality between the sexes has been slow and steady, the Equal Rights Amendment, despite being passed by Congress, was never ratified. But by taking leading roles in the reform movements in the 19th century, not just when it came to temperance and slavery, but also prisons and asylums, women were able to enter the public sphere for the first time. And these great women changed the world for better and for worse, just as great men do. And along the way, they made “the woman question” part of the movement for social reform in the United States. And in doing so, American women chipped away at the idea that a woman’s place must be in the home. That might not have been a presidential election or a war, but it is still bringing real change to our real lives on a daily basis. Thanks for watching. I’ll see you next week. Crash Course is produced and directed by Stan Muller. Our script supervisor is Meredith Danko. The associate producer is Danica Johnson. The show is written by my high school history teacher Raoul Meyer, and myself. And our graphics team is Thought Café. If you want to suggest captions for the libertage, please do so in comments where you can also ask questions about today’s video that will be answered by our team of historians. Thanks for watching Crash Course and as we say in my hometown, don’t forget to be awesome...oh, lights! Everything’s fine.


Architecture and history

The two-storey bath stone house has ashlar quoins and a slate roof. There is an ionic doorcase with columns either side supporting a pediment. The south side is of five bays while the east has three. The interior includes an 18th century staircase and fireplace.[2] In the garden is a former chapel with an early 19th century window featuring tracery.[5]

Eagle House c. 1890
Eagle House c. 1890

The house was built in the late 17th or early 18th century, then remodelled in 1724 and again in 1729 by the architect John Wood, the Elder as his own house.[6] The house was later associated with his son John Wood, the Younger.[7]

In 1882 Eagle House became home to Colonel Linley Blathwayt, his wife Emily, and their children William and Mary Blathwayt. Linley Blathwayt had been a Colonel in the army in India and moved into the house when he retired. He had interests in insects and in photography.[8] Emily Blathwayt's interest was in the garden and they had an extensive library of books, including hundreds on botany and nature.[7]

Women's suffrage

Annie Kenney to the left, Mary Blathwayt at centre and Emmeline Pankhurst, with the spade, at Eagle House in 1910
Annie Kenney to the left, Mary Blathwayt at centre and Emmeline Pankhurst, with the spade, at Eagle House in 1910

Emily and Mary Blathwayt began attending meetings of the Bath Women's Suffrage Society.[8] In 1906 they gave three shillings to the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU).[9] Mary met Annie Kenney at a Women's Social and Political Union meeting in Bath, and she agreed to help Kenney, Elsie Howey, Clara Codd and Mary Phillips organise a local women's suffrage campaign. Mary was given an allowance by her family to support her in her work for women's rights.[9]

On 28 April 1909, Emily Blathwayt wrote in her diary that "the idea of a field of trees grows". The site chosen was a two-acre field on the side of Solsbury Hill. This was not to be a simple wood or even an arboretum. They planted individual holly trees to celebrate women working for the cause wheres those militant women who had been imprisoned were celebrated with a particular conifer. Each had a different species and floral rings were planted around each tree. The planting was achieved by a visit from the suffragette who then posed by a purpose made lead plaque. This was photographed by Colonel Lindley and he would also capture a portrait of the suffragette. These portraits were signed and sold at the WSPU shop in Bath.[7] Blathwayt's diary also includes details of the sexual relationships between many of the participants of the movement many of which took place at Eagle House.[10]

Eagle House became an important refuge for suffragettes who had been released from prison after hunger strikes. Each tree was planted to commemorate each woman — at least 47 trees were planted between April 1909 and July 1911, including Emmeline Pankhurst, Christabel Pankhurst, Annie Kenney, Charlotte Despard, Millicent Fawcett and Lady Lytton.[3]

Many major people from the suffragette movement were invited to stay at her house and to plant a tree to celebrate a prison sentence.[9] The trees were known as "Annie's Arboreatum" after Annie Kenney.[11][12] There was also a "Pankhurst Pond" within the grounds.[13]

When Vera Wentworth and Elsie Howey assaulted H. H. Asquith (the Prime Minister), this proved too much for the Blathwayt family.[14] The Blathwayts were also distressed by arson and other attacks on property carried out by the suffragettes, including one near Eagle House.[15][16] Emily Blathwayt resigned from the WSPU and Linley Blathwayt wrote letters of protest to Christabel Pankhurst, Howey and Wentworth. Pankhurst was told that Howey and Wentworth could not visit their house again. Wentworth sent them a long reply expressing regret at their reaction but noting that "if Mr. Asquith will not receive deputation they will pummel him again".[14]


Annie's Arboretum at Eagle House c.1910
Annie's Arboretum at Eagle House c.1910

The Town and Country Planning Act 1947 contained provision for woodland of historic importance to be preserved but the importance of this site was never identified. In fact Somerset archaeological society was consulted over a planning application and they noted that the grounds were "not very attractive". In 1961 the Local Planning Authority overruled local objections which did not mention the garden. The house was kept but its contents were auctioned and this included a Boadicea brooch given by Annie Kenney to Mary Blathwayt. The garden did not completely go unnoticed as a local journalist noted that the contents of the house were unimportant when compared to the suffragette's garden.[17]

The trees in "Annie's Arboretum" were removed to make way for a housing estate[18] in about 1965. Helen Watts wrote one of the last known accounts of "Annies Arboretum" at Eagle House. She returned to see the spot where she was honoured in 1911. She visited in 1962 and took a sprig of juniper as a souvenir. The local newspaper reported that she could not find her plaque but she did find stout trees and with the aid of Colonel Blathwayt's photo she identified "her" juniper.[19]

One of the trees, an Austrian Pine, remains. It was planted by Rose Lamartine Yates in 1909.[1] In 2011 it was announced that the trees would be replaced with new ones in Bath at the Royal Victoria Park, Alice Park and Bath Spa University.[18]

The house has been divided into four apartments.[20]


  1. ^ a b "Eagle House and the Suffragettes' Trees". Historic England. Retrieved 27 October 2017.
  2. ^ a b "No. 71 (Eagle House) including balustrade 2 yards in front of south elevation". National Heritage List for England. Historic England. Retrieved 27 October 2017.
  3. ^ a b "Eagle House". Images of England. Archived from the original on 15 October 2012. Retrieved 25 November 2008.
  4. ^ Amphlett, D. G. (2014). Bath Book of Days. The History Press, pp. 179, 306.
  5. ^ Pevsner, Nikolaus (1958). North Somerset and Bristol. Penguin Books. p. 138. OCLC 868291293.
  6. ^ "Eagle House". Pastscape. Historic England. Retrieved 27 October 2017.
  7. ^ a b c Cynthia Imogen Hammond (5 July 2017). "Architects, Angels, Activists and the City of Bath, 1765?965 ": Engaging with Women's Spatial Interventions in Buildings and Landscape. Taylor & Francis. pp. 163–170. ISBN 978-1-351-57613-0.
  8. ^ a b Hannam, June (2004). Mary Blathwayt. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/50066.
  9. ^ a b c Simkin, John (September 1997). "Mary Blathwayt". Spartacus Educational. Retrieved 24 October 2017.
  10. ^ Thorpe, Vanessa; Marsh, Alec (11 June 2000). "Diary reveals lesbian love trysts of suffragette leaders". The Observer. Retrieved 27 October 2017.
  11. ^ Hammond, Cynthia Imogen (2017). Architects, Angels, Activists and the City of Bath, 1765-1965 ": Engaging with Women's Spatial Interventions in Buildings and Landscape. Routledge. ISBN 9781351576123.
  12. ^ Hannam, June (Winter 2002). "Suffragette Photographs" (PDF). Regional Historian (8).
  13. ^ "Book of the Week: A Nest of Suffragettes in Somerset". Woman and her Sphere. Retrieved 27 October 2017.
  14. ^ a b "Vera Wentworth". Spartacus Educational. Retrieved 27 October 2017.
  15. ^ "The Suffragette Garden". Suffragette Life. Retrieved 27 October 2017.
  16. ^ Eustance, Claire; Ryan, Joan; Ugolini, Laura (2000). Suffrage Reader: Charting Directions in British Suffrage History. A&C Black. pp. 54–65. ISBN 9780718501785.
  17. ^ Cynthia Imogen Hammond (5 July 2017). "Architects, Angels, Activists and the City of Bath, 1765?965 ": Engaging with Women's Spatial Interventions in Buildings and Landscape. Taylor & Francis. pp. 198–. ISBN 978-1-351-57612-3.
  18. ^ a b "Trees honour Bath's suffragettes". BBC News. 9 March 2011. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
  19. ^ Cynthia Imogen Hammond (5 July 2017). "Architects, Angels, Activists and the City of Bath, 1765?965 ": Engaging with Women's Spatial Interventions in Buildings and Landscape. Taylor & Francis. pp. 232–. ISBN 978-1-351-57612-3.
  20. ^ "8 bedroom property with land for sale". On the Market. Retrieved 27 October 2017.

Further reading

This page was last edited on 14 November 2018, at 16:14
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