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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
Location Batheaston
Country England, United Kingdom
Coordinates 51°24′49″N 2°19′06″W / 51.41361°N 2.31833°W / 51.41361; -2.31833
Designations Grade II listed[1]

Eagle House is in Batheaston near Bath in Somerset. It is now surrounded by houses but before the First World War it had extensive grounds and it was known as the Suffragette's Retreat. It was owned by Colonel Linley and Emily Blathwayt. It was noted for a historic group of trees planted to celebrate the sacrifice of particular suffragettes. Only one tree remains. The house is a Grade II* listed building.[2]


The house is dated 1729. It was however built in the late 17th/early 18th century and then remodelled in 1724 and again in 1729 by the architect John Wood, the Elder as his own house.[3] The house was later associated with his son John Wood, the Younger.[4] The house later became a 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 he retired here in 1882. He had interests in insects and in photography.[5] Emily Blathwayts interest was in the garden and they had an extensive library of books including hundreds on botany and nature.[4]


 Eagle House c. 1890
Eagle House c. 1890

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 with interested tracery.[6]

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

Mary Blathwayt and her mother started attending meetings of the Bath Women's Suffrage Society.[5] In 1906, Blathwayt gave three shillings to the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU).[7] 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.[7]

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

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.[4] 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.[8]

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.[9] Many major people from the suffragette movement were invited to stay at her house and to plant a tree to celebrate a prison sentence.[7] The trees were known as "Annie's Arboreatum" after Annie Kenney.[10][11] There was also a "Pankhurst Pond" within the grounds.[12]

However when Vera Wentworth and Elsie Howey assaulted H. H. Asquith (the Prime Minister) this proved too much for the Blathwayt family.[13] The Blathwayts were also distressed by arson and other attacks on property carried out by the suffragettes, including one near Eagle House.[14][15] Emily Blathwayt, resigned from the WSPU and Linley, 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".[13]


The trees in "Annie's Arboretum" were removed to make way for a housing estate[16] 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.[17]

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.[16]

The house has been divided into four apartments.[18]


  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. ^ "Eagle House". Pastscape. Historic England. Retrieved 27 October 2017. 
  4. ^ 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. 
  5. ^ a b Hannam, June (2004). Mary Blathwayt. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/50066. 
  6. ^ Pevsner, Nikolaus (1958). North Somerset and Bristol. Penguin Books. p. 138. OCLC 868291293. 
  7. ^ a b c Simkin, John (September 1997). "Mary Blathwayt". Spartacus Educational. Retrieved 24 October 2017. 
  8. ^ Thorpe, Vanessa; Marsh, Alec (11 June 2000). "Diary reveals lesbian love trysts of suffragette leaders". The Observer. Retrieved 27 October 2017. 
  9. ^ "Eagle House". Images of England. Archived from the original on 15 October 2012. Retrieved 25 November 2008. 
  10. ^ 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. 
  11. ^ Hannam, June (Winter 2002). "Suffragette Photographs" (PDF). Regional Historian (8). 
  12. ^ "Book of the Week: A Nest of Suffragettes in Somerset". Woman and her Sphere. Retrieved 27 October 2017. 
  13. ^ a b "Vera Wentworth". Spartacus Educational. Retrieved 27 October 2017. 
  14. ^ "The Suffragette Garden". Suffragette Life. Retrieved 27 October 2017. 
  15. ^ Eustance, Claire; Ryan, Joan; Ugolini, Laura (2000). Suffrage Reader: Charting Directions in British Suffrage History. A&C Black. pp. 54–65. ISBN 9780718501785. 
  16. ^ a b "Trees honour Bath's suffragettes". BBC News. 9 March 2011. Retrieved 25 October 2017. 
  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. 232–. ISBN 978-1-351-57612-3. 
  18. ^ "8 bedroom property with land for sale". On the Market. Retrieved 27 October 2017. 
This page was last edited on 29 April 2018, at 13:56.
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