Sunday, 27 December 2015

The Suffragette Wall

Yesterday we visited Shipley Park where I took this photo of the Suffragette Wall. Alfred Edward Miller Mundy, the last squire of Shipley Hall supposedly had it built to keep out marauding suffragettes.

It's a commonly repeated local story, but as for its plausibility I'm not so sure. Anyone reasonably active could scale the wall, especially with a little help or something to stand on. Suffragettes were surely resourceful enough, even if encumbered with those long Edwardian skirts.

Not only that, but the wall isn't particularly long and only protects a small section of the hall grounds. Those fearsome ladies could have strolled round it.

To my mind, a more likely possibility is that the story originated from somebody with suffragette sympathies who visited the hall. Somebody fashionably radical might drawl a simple observation such as "I suppose your wall was built to keep out the suffragettes." It becomes a family joke, the servants hear it and soon enough that's why the wall was built.

Or maybe the local suffragettes were really scary but not very tall or resourceful.


Sam Vega said...

The joke taken seriously in order to make it more interesting, or discredit the author, is more common than we think. Prince Charles never really talked to his roses, and Dan Quayle never really thought that Latin is spoken in modern Latin America. Just attempts at self-parody which are seized on by opponents and used as evidence against them. Cameron has been trained to carefully guard against every hint of self-deprecation. John Mcdonnell's "Little Red Book" stunt shows that his advisors hail from an earlier age, or cost less.

Demetrius said...

It is either to keep summat out or to keep summat in. Or maybe if sheep were going along the road to keep them out and the household dogs in.

A K Haart said...

Sam - yes it's a subtle and complex business. We know Prince Charles never really talked to his roses, but still use it as if he could have spoken to them, as if he is the kind of person who would and never mind the fact that he didn't.

Demetrius - it could also have been a barrier to hold back soil from the slight slope on the hall side of the wall.