Eagle House and the Suffragettes' Trees
Eagle House in Batheaston near Bath served as a refuge for suffragettes between 1909 and 1912.
Here the Blathwayt family helped them to recuperate from the harsh treatment they received when imprisoned for their political activism in support of votes for women. Many women were force-fed when on hunger strike to protest against their conditions.
At Eagle House the suffragettes were encouraged to plant a tree in the grounds. Photographs of the trees, or ‘Annie’s Arboretum’ as it became known, after the suffragette Annie Kenney, are at Bath In Time.
Destruction and survival
Eagle House is listed Grade II* but the arboretum was destroyed in the 1960s to make way for a housing estate.
Only one of the original trees remains: a large Austrian Pine planted by Rose Lamartine Yates (1875–1954) on 30 October 1909. On 24 February 1909 Rose was arrested while on a deputation to the House of Commons and sentenced to one month's imprisonment in Holloway gaol. By 1910 she was honorary secretary of the Wimbledon branch of the Women's Social and Political Union.
Her house, Dorset Hall in Wimbledon, listed Grade II, also became a refuge for suffragettes recovering there after spells in prison.
International Women's Day
On International Women’s Day, 8 March 2011, The Centre for History and Culture at Bath Spa University, in conjunction with Bath and Northeast Somerset Council, will celebrate this unique piece of history with the planting of commemorative suffragettes’ trees in Bath at the Royal Victoria Park, Alice Park and Bath Spa University to give thanks to the suffragettes who campaigned so hard to win women the right to vote.
For more on the Women’s Suffrage Movement see Pastscape.