Podcast: The Bath Spa Suffragist
We sit down with Dr Graham Davis to discuss our radical heritage, and how strong women have influenced the course of Bath Spa's history.
Newton Park has a long history of innovation, maybe what some would even call, radicalism. Though we only gained full university status as recently as 2005, we have a long lineage of progressive thought and energy dating back through the centuries, an energy focused, particularly, in the work of strong women. While we accept it as normal now that we have a female VC and women in positions of power, it was the work of those who came before us that paved the way for these advancements and privileges - work that was focused right here in Newton Park.
In this podcast, I had the pleasure of sitting down with emeritus Professor of History Dr Graham Davis, who was hired by one of Newton Park’s many formidable ladies - Mary Dawson - and has since become an expert in another - the suffragist Lady Anna Gore-Langton, who made her home at Newton Park from 1846-1879. Using Newton Park as her home base, Lady Anna became a formidable force of change in the push for voting and education rights for women long before the more well known Edwardian suffragettes made their voices heard. Her career spanned some forty years, taking her to places like Scotland and India, where she raised her voice and her money for causes like women’s medical education, voting and local board and council representation.
There is a large discussion going on now in higher education about the value of a degree. As Sue Rigby recently asked of us during her SPA week talk, what is the value of a degree, and who owns it? For me, this podcast made me think about our value from a different angle - as something that can stem from our heritage. As you listen to this, maybe ask yourself - how does the value of your time here change, when you think that you too are sharing the same space where radical women once talked, planned, and actioned to change the world?
Lady Anna - a brief history
Born Lady Anna Eliza Mary Temple-Nugent-Brydges-Chandos-Grenville (how’s that for a name?) at Stowe House in 1820, she was the only daughter of Richard, 2nd Duke of Buckingham and Chandos and his wife, Lady Mary Campbell, who divorced in 1850.
In 1846, she eloped and married William Powell Gore-Langton (1824-1873), descended from a merchant family that included Sir John Gore, the Lord Mayor of Bristol. He became an MP for Somerset from 1851-59, and again in 1863-73. They had five children.
Lady Anna's activist work included:
- Signing of the 1866 Mill Petition
- 1870-71 Involvement with the Edinburgh Seven and women’s medical education
- 1872 appointed president of the Bath committee for the National Society for Women’s Suffrage
- 1874 Appointed president of the Bristol and West of England branch.
- 1875 she became the VP of the National Indian Association, and pushed to establish scholarships and training for female teachers in India
- In 1877, she was part of a deputation to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, seeking his support for a women's suffrage bill due to be introduced in Parliament the next day.
Images courtesy of the Library of Congress and the National Archives.
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