The Great Pilgrimage of 1913

The Great Pilgrimage of 1913

Posted by Charlotte Somers

Truro City Hall has a long history connected with the Suffragette movement. Early instances of lectures, talks and debates by well known Suffragists such as Mrs Ronniger in 1871, and Mrs Beedy in 1874, are recorded in the Royal Cornwall Gazette. On 2 February 1880 Eliza Orme gave a women’s suffrage lecture in the City Hall Council Chamber, returning in October of that year to hold a meeting in the Town Hall. 



In 1912 Truro became the lead venue for The Women's Social and Political Union in Cornwall. On 8 June 1913, Emily Wilding Davison died from injuries obtained four days earlier, when she stepped into the path of horses during the Epsom Derby. On 19 June 1913 a cohort of Sufragettes, from the South-West, passed through Truro on their great march to London. They left from Lands end and walked for 6 weeks, arriving at Hyde Park on 26th July.


“This little band of zealots comprised Miss Misick (organising secretary), Mrs. Ramsay (Plymouth), Miss Raby (Exeter), and Miss Helen Fraser (London). Mrs. Robins Bolitho, who is actively interested in the non-militant movement, gave the party a hearty send-off, whilst a number of men who had assembled raised a cheer. Along the route to Penzance literature was left at the houses, and the idea of the movement explained… Quite a crowd of people had assembled to witness the junction, and the numbers were constantly added to as the procession neared Penzance.”  The Cornishman, Thursday 26 June 1913




Their march was met with much opposition, with a crowd of 10,000 converging at Camborne, from which they had to make their escape. They were also met with great support at other stopping posts on their journey. Their journey took them to St Just-in-Penwith, Penzance, Camborne, Truro, Bodmin, Liskeard, Saltash, Plymouth, Ivybridge, Totnes, Newton Abbot, Teignmouth, Dawlish, Starcross, Exmouth, Topsham, Exeter, Taunton, Wellington, Street & Glastonbury, Bristol, Bath, Corsham, Chippenham, Marlborough and Richmond.


On July 26 they converged with 50,000 women in Hyde Park, London, who had marched from all areas of the country.

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