I became fascinated by the suffrage campaign in 2018, when the country was commemorating the centenary of the Representation of the People Act. 1918 was the first time women got the Parliamentary vote, and there were people across the country who had campaigned to make this happen.
I began uncovering stories about the significance of Hereford to the suffrage campaign when I was working with activity officer Sarah Hollingdale on the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) Eastern Cloisters Project at Hereford Cathedral. Our 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.
One of the women was Florence Canning (1863-1914), the daughter of the vicar of Tupsley in Hereford, who went on to become a passionate campaigner for women's franchise. She joined the WSPU, supported many other suffrage organisations, and was a leading member of the Church League for Women's Suffrage. Here is Florence pictured when she was staying with the Blathwayt family who for some years hosted visiting suffragettes at Eagle House in Bath.
Florence died on Christmas Eve 1914 in Brighton, and was buried at St Paul's, Tupsley, with representatives of the WSPU in attendance. More of her story can be found online Florence Canning: Mapping Women's Suffrage and in my book: Hard Work - But Glorious: Stories from the Herefordshire Suffrage Campaign which is available from Ledbury Books and Maps.
Today Florence is a forgotten figure in the suffrage campaign and her grave is a sad reflection of that loss of remembrance. This project is to restore her grave, re-erecting the cross, cleaning the inscription, and getting far more people to know about Florence and her remarkable life.
As well as Florence, there are further women and men involved in the suffrage campaign who are buried at St Paul's. Once the fundraising target for Florence's grave restoration has been met, any extra money will be used to help maintain the churchyard and make it easy for people to explore all the other graves. These include the suffragist sisters Dorothy Dymond and Una Bettington, and the Editor of the Hereford Times, Charles Anthony Junior.
Thankyou to everyone who has supported the project. The faculty has now been granted and the work will go ahead in early 2023.