Tuesday 20th May 2014

This morning I worked in the prison with my Watts women’s group. Afterwards I always need to walk and get out and about.

I thought I would go to Godalming Museum, as I had seen online that they had some suffrage archive material there. I’m searching for visual imagery.

Tuesday afternoon in Godalming is pretty sleepy, so it felt like an off chance that the building would be open. It’s tucked away at the end of the high street. As soon as I entered, I was welcomed by Hilary and Jackie.

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Hilary and Jackie at Godalming Museum. Image: Mary Branson

In the main area of the museum was a banner created for the suffrage pilgrimage to London by Gertrude Jekyll. It was stunning, the colours vibrant and the stitch work perfect.

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Godalming women’s suffrage banner designed by Gertrude Jekyll. Image: Mary Branson/Godalming Museum

Above the glass display box there’s a photograph from the Guildford Institute of the march going up Guildford High Street – it brought the past rushing to me.

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Reproduction photograph of Gertrude Jekyll’s suffrage pilgrimage. Image: Mary Branson (By kind permission of the Guildford Institute)

I was invited into the archives and we found newspapers relating the events of the march. Muriel Matters had passed through with her caravan. I suddenly felt proud that my hometown was involved in this history. The women of Surrey had attitude too!

Articles mentioned how the women managed on the march. It seems that there was a huge amount of organisation involved with the women walking into town. I love walking, but I have boots and walking trousers and fancy thermal base layers. They were doing this in, what? Long skirts and petticoats?

And where do all those women sleep, wash and go to the loo? Were they all looking very dirty? How many miles were they doing a day? If I’ve been walking all day I want a pub lunch and a pint at least!  (Note to self. I must try and do a pilgrimage. One day.)

Come back on Tuesday 23 August 2016, when Mary continues her work in the Parliamentary Archives and votes in the European elections…