March is Women’s History Month. You can discover important and inspiring stories of Surrey women in history on Surrey History Centre’s (SHC) Exploring Surrey’s Past website. Watch out for social media throughout the month too. The month also incorporates International Women’s Day on 8 March. Both initiatives promote the achievements and contributions of women in the past and present, and the ongoing campaign for equality in all areas of life. From artists to actors, suffragettes to scientists, and gardeners to musicians,
Harriet Grote, (right in image) 19th century Radical ‘female politician’, hostess and patron. For Women’s History Month, SHC celebrates the long life of a radical writer and hostess through the recollections of the Farrer family of Abinger Hall in Surrey, whose papers SHC hold.
The ‘Influential Women’ section of case studies for SHC’s Exploring Surrey’s Past website was created by Surrey’s museums and each museum revealed stories from their collections about talented and inspiring local women. These included Margaret Robinson of Chertsey (1920-2016), (centre in image) who was an artist, a puppeteer, and a model-maker with a worldwide fan base as a result of the models she created for Hammer Film, most noticeably The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Mummy. You can read all of the stores here.
Surrey’s women played a vital role during the First World War, serving as Red Cross nurses at home and abroad, working on the Home Front in the Women’s Land Army, and being munitions workers in factories. The Surrey in the Great War website records and preserves their contribution and hosts research guides, film and fascinating stories about local women. One of the films you can watch captures a rural community caught on camera for a local newsreel, with members of the Women’s Land Army demonstrated their ploughing skills in an inter-farm competition at Cross Farm, Shackleford, in April 1917. Find out more and watch the film.
Text and photos courtesy of The Surrey History Centre.