Queer Places:
(1934) 132 Cheyne Walk, London SW
(1960) 514 Chelsea Cloisters, London SW
Eagle House, Steway Lane, Batheaston, Bath and North East Somerset BA1 7EJ, UK

Charlotte MarshCharlotte "Charlie" Marsh (1887–1961) was a militant British suffragette. She was a paid organiser of the Women's Social and Political Union and is one of the first women to be force fed during one of several terms of imprisonment for militant protest. She was sentenced to two months’ hard labour and force-fed by tube 139 times. Her statuesque bearing made her a premium choice to lead demonstrations and processions; she headed the funeral procession for Emily Wilding Davison, killed by the King’s horse at the Derby in 1913. The sociologist Liz Stanley, who came across Marsh when researching Emily Wilding Davison’s life, talks about the feminism of these women as blending socialism, animal rights, vegetarianism, pacifism, opposition to colonialism: ‘a feminism of practice and of action in the public sphere … expressed through a growing and widespread women’s community, embedded in a myriad of local groups, organizations and friendship networks’.

Suffragettes Charlotte Marsh Mary Blathwayt Laura Ainsworth and ...
Charlotte Marsh, Mary Blathwayt, Laura Ainsworth, and Annie Kenney (left to right) 1911

Marsh was born in 1887 in Newcastle. Her father, Arthur Hardwick Marsh, was a noted watercolourist.[1] She was educated locally at St Margaret's School and then at Roseneath in Wrexham before completing her education in Bordeaux.[2] In 1907 she joined the Women's Social and Political Union, but did not become active. It is thought that her training as a sanitary inspector opened her eyes to the plight of women.[2] Marsh became a full-time organiser for the WSPU.[3] She helped Mary Philips in pavement chalking in Lambeth, whom Philips noted 'gamely stood the jeering and rough handling' the women got in the process.[4] She was also seen on parade which was considered less likely to attract violence, with Dora Spong with Dorothy Hartopp Radcliffe, Hilda Dallas handing out Votes for Women, and publicising with a placard the Women's Parliament on 30 June 1908.[5] Then on 30 June 1908 she was arrested with Elsie Howey and imprisoned in Holloway for a month on charges of obstructing the police. She was also seen on parade with Dora Spong with Dorothy Hartopp Radcliffe, Hilda Dallas with a placard promoting the Women's Parliament on 30 June 1908.[5] On 17 September 1909 Marsh, Mary Leigh and Patricia Woodlock [4] climbed onto the roof of Bingley Hall in Birmingham to protest at being excluded from a political meeting where the British Prime Minister Asquith was giving a speech. They threw roof tiles which they levered up with an axe at the Asquith's car and at the police. She was sent to trial and then on to Winson Green Prison. In protest about not being treated as a political prisoner they went on hunger strike.[6] Marsh, Leigh and Woodlock became two of the first suffragette hunger strikers to be forcibly fed.[3][7]

Marsh was invited as a leading suffragette to Eagle House in Batheaston in April 1911. This was the home of Mary Blathwayt and her parents and they invited leading suffragettes to plant trees. Colonel Blathwayt would take a photo and a plaque was made to record the event. Marsh planted Picea Polita. Mary's mother, Evelyn Blathwayt, recorded that Marsh was not eating meat but seemed to have recovered from her imprisonment.[2] Marsh had been given a Hunger Strike Medal 'for Valour' by WSPU. During World War I she worked as a mechanic and chauffeur for Lloyd George, whilst continuing her activism. Lloyd George was aware of her background but he wanted to make a political bridge to those wanting suffrage. Moreover, he wanted to employ a woman as he was campaigning for women to join the workforce to replace then men who were in the armed forces. George drove his car but also served as its mechanic. Marsh also worked for the Land Army.[8] By 1916, Marsh was frustrated with the WSPU's refusal to campaign on suffrage issues during the war. She founded the breakaway Independent Women's Social and Political Union to continue the campaign, publishing Independent Suffragette.[9] After the war she worked for the WILPF peace movement and then as a social worker in San Francisco. She returned to London where she returned to her expertise in public health working for London County Council.[1] She was involved with Edith How-Martyn in setting up the collection of the Suffragette Fellowship documenting the movement.[10] In 1952, she was gave a speech at the inaugural meeting of the National Assembly of Women and presented a declaration of women's solidarity for equality and peace.[11] Marsh died in 1961.[2]

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