Suffragettes' fight for voting rights comes to St Paul's - 1913

Today at the Cathedral View More
8:00am Morning Prayer
8:30am Doors open for sightseeing
8:30am Eucharist
12:30pm Eucharist
4:00pm Last entry for sightseeing
5:00pm Choral Evensong
5:30pm Cathedral closes

Suffragettes' fight for voting rights comes to St Paul's - 1913

On Wednesday, 7 May 1913, a Suffragette plot to blow up the Bishop's throne in St Paul's was narrowly foiled, after a 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.

6 February 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the first women in the UK receiving the right to vote and, with the passing of the Representation of the People Act in 1928, women in the UK received the vote on the same terms as men. 

The Suffragettes' history at St Paul's is brought into sharper focus this centenary year, when the first female Bishop of London, Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, will be enthroned on the very seat that the Suffragettes attempted to destroy in 1913. 

However, the fight for women's rights continues around the world and we think of those who still struggle for equal representation.