Celebration of pioneering Emily begins

A scene from one of the Vote for Emily days at Gunby Hall, with visitor experience manager Astrid Gatenby (centre). Picture: National Trust/Mike Pounder
A scene from one of the Vote for Emily days at Gunby Hall, with visitor experience manager Astrid Gatenby (centre). Picture: National Trust/Mike Pounder

The clock was turned back more than a hundreds years at Gunby Hall, near Spilsby, last week as the property paid tribute to social and political pioneer – and former resident – Emily Massingberd.

Born in the mid-19th century, Emily was a tee-total political activist who campaigned for women’s rights and, for preference, dressed like a man.

Suffrajitsu in action. Picture: National Trust/Mike Pounder

Suffrajitsu in action. Picture: National Trust/Mike Pounder

As part of the National Trust’s commemoration to mark a hundred years since the passing of the Representation of the People Act, when some women aged over 30 got the right to vote, Gunby Hall is celebrating her life.

It began with a two Vote for Emily! days held over the Bank Holiday Weekend

More than 1,000 visitors attended the event, finding re-enactments, demonstrations of Suffrajitsu (martial arts for suffragettes), a new exhibition about Emily’s Pioneer Club (a socially levelling institution for women), and a chance to vote for which of Emily’s causes was most important to them today.

Visitor experience manager at Gunby Hall Astrid Gatenby said: “It was a great and very busy weekend. Our volunteers and reenactors really brought the story about suffrage to life. It was also lovely to see people play croquet, have a picnic and relax in the gardens: there’s so much to enjoy when the sun is shining at Gunby!”

Mastiff Isabelle, the suffrage dog, part of the reenactment troupe. Picture: National Trust

Mastiff Isabelle, the suffrage dog, part of the reenactment troupe. Picture: National Trust

The focus on Emily will remain until the end of the season with another art installation being launched in August.