Remembering Honiton’s Suffragettes

The founders of Honiton’s Suffrage movement will be remembered when the film SUFFRAGETTE is shown at The Beehive on January 29th.

Plans are being made to mark the showing of the film with events at the Beehive attended by Caroline Merry de Bayer, the great niece of Honiton’s suffragette founder, Juanita Maxwell Phillips who became ten times Mayor of Honiton and the first female Mayor in the West Country.  Mrs Phillips presided at the first suffragist meeting held in Honiton as well as chairing the Exeter Branch of the Emmeline Pankhurst’s Women’s Social and Political Union. She picketed outside Exeter prison when Mrs Pankhurst, who is played by Meryl Streep in the film, was held there. The following morning Juanita joined Mrs Pankhurst at the Great Western Hotel on her release and saw her on the London train to attend a suffrage meeting. A blue plaque in Honiton High Street claims Mrs Phillips was arrested several times for her suffrage activities. This is still being researched.

The special meeting to remember Honiton’s suffragettes will be held before the showing of SUFFRAGETTE – featuring Carey Mulligan – at the Beehive in Dowell Street on January 29th. Women are being invited to wear hats and costumes similar to those worn by suffragettes. Along with sashes and ‘Votes for Women’ posters.

The event will be hosted by Honiton Town Mayor Caroline Kolek who will launch a Mayors Fund for the restoration of Mrs Phillips portrait. She states: ‘I am very pleased to be associated with this event to mark Honiton’s suffragettes during my time as Mayor. Mrs Phillips would no doubt have been delighted that a hundred years after she was campaigning for woman to have the vote we have a Town Council with so many women members. In fact for the first time we now have more women members than men. It will be an historic occasion and I hope we raise sufficient to restore Mrs Phillips portrait.’

The film will be shown at the Beehive at 7.30pm on Friday 29th January. The meeting, will begin at 6.0pm including a lecture, exhibition and book signing.  A special Town Walk is being arranged to mark the centenary of Honiton Suffragettes. Mayor Caroline Kolek said ‘a special effort will be made to involve the Town’s young people including students at Honiton Community College. ‘

Do you have any information about Honiton’s suffragettes? Was any member of your family involved? If so please contact Tony Simpson Tel 01404 548228 email: