Suffragette brooch

Holloway hunger strike brooch

Such a simple object with such poignant connotations. At the beginning of the 20th century those denied the right to vote or take part in political life in Britain were  the inmates of prisons, asylums for the insane – and women. The term ‘suffragette’ was invented in 1906 by the Daily Mail, as a belittling epithet and then adopted as a badge of honour by the women it sought to demean. The Suffragette Holloway brooch was designed by Sylvia Pankhurst and presented to Suffragettes who had been imprisoned for their militant actions in support of the cause of suffrage for women. Imprisoned suffragettes demanded to be treated as political prisoners and went on hunger strike, leading to the horrendous practice of forcible feeding. The silver brooch by Toye and Co. is in the shape of a portcullis, representing the House of Commons, with a convict’s arrow enamelled in the colours of the Suffragette movement – purple for regal dignity, green for hope and white for purity, with convict chains to either side. It measures one inch by 3/4 of an inch and is in a Toye and Co. box. History in my hand.