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Today in history, 1913: Suffragettes fail in St Paul's bomb plot

07 May 2014

The streets of the City of London have seen many protests over the centuries, but 101 years ago, one group's struggle for equality saw their fight come within the walls of St Paul's.

On Wednesday, 7 May 1913, a plot to blow up the Bishop's throne in St Paul's was narrowly foiled, after a Cathedral Virger found a bomb at the east end of the Cathedral.

The Daily Gazette of that evening reported: "An enormous bomb, with a clock and battery attachment was discovered under the bishop's throne at the St Paul's Cathedral today...The dean conducted evensong near the bishop's throne last evening, but neither he nor the verger then noticed the package or heard the ticking."

The Morning Post the following day, added: "There is no doubt in the minds of the authorities that the contrivance was designed and placed there by someone associated with the militant Suffragist movement."

The Age, on 9 May used the headline "Suffragette Outrage" and reported on other acts of 'incendiarism' including the burning of a cricket pavilion in Fulham.

The failed bomb at St Paul's came during a period when members of the Suffragette movement were turning to more extreme methods in their campaign for women's rights. Low-level acts included the burning of post boxes and cutting telephone wires, while larger examples included the burning of London houses and pavillions within Royal Parks. Items in the British Museum and National Gallery were also damaged.

1913 marked the beginning of the use of explosive devices. The holiday cottage of Chancellor of the Exchequer, David Lloyd-George, was damaged (February 1913) as was the Coronation Throne within Westminster Abbey (June 1914).

Perhaps the most high-profile act of the Suffragette movement also took place in 1913, when Emily Davison threw herself under the King's horse during the Epsom Derby. She was to die from her injuries.

The outbreak of WWI saw protest scaled back, but in 1918 the first women in the UK were given the right to vote, before in 1928, the Representation of the People Act saw women in the UK receive the vote on the same terms as men.

The fight for women's rights continues around the world today, and we continue to think about those who struggle for equal representation.
The article from the Morning Post of 8 May 1913

The article from the Morning Post of 8 May 1913   Enlarge

The tea house in Kew Gardens, burned in protest of women's rights

The tea house in Kew Gardens, burned in protest of women's rights   Enlarge

The ornate Grinling Gibbons canopy within the Quire, in which the Bishop's throne sits

The ornate Grinling Gibbons canopy within the Quire, in which the Bishop's throne sits   Enlarge