Hard Work – But Glorious: Stories from the Herefordshire Suffrage Campaign

Hard Work – But Glorious: Stories from the Herefordshire Suffrage Campaign

When The Courtyard has to close its doors because of the pandemic, furlough left many of the staff wondering how to use their time. Gardening, painting, spring cleaning, childcare, learning a new skill: all came into the reckoning.

Courtyard Fundraising Manager, Clare Wichbold took the opportunity to write a book. She had previously been involved in research about the women’s suffrage campaign in Herefordshire through Hereford Cathedral and the 2018 Hereford Three Choirs Festival. Reflecting on her early research, Clare said:

“I’d got a heap of interesting papers and notes, and people like Estelle van Warmelow were encouraging me to write it all up. I kept using work as an excuse, but that excuse vanished in March 2020!”

Clare's Book coverThe title of the book is a quote from a letter sent in May 1908 to Beatrice Parlby, a local campaigner for women’s suffrage. Gladice Keevil (pictured at the top) was a suffragette who worked for Mrs Pankhurst’s Women’s Social and Political Union, better known by its initials, the WSPU. Gladice was coming to Hereford to help publicise a rally in Hyde Park planned for 21 June. She wrote beforehand asking Beatrice to: “Rouse the town, push the sale of tickets, bills in all shop windows and house to house canvassing as much as possible. It will be hard work – but glorious.”

Rather than being a chronological history, Clare has written seven chapters covering different aspects of the suffrage story in Herefordshire. It also has a wealth of historic images from archive collections, many of which have never been published before.

Clare said: “I did try various ways of writing my book, including using a timeline, places or specific events. I eventually found that chapters which could be read as self-contained essays finally did the trick; however, they do all link up because of the people involved.”


Clare has written about suffragettes – the more militant campaigners – who often worked alongside the suffragists, those who favoured peaceful, law-abiding means to obtain the vote. These include Florence Canning, daughter of the Vicar of St Paul’s Church, Tupsley, who was a suffragette and a leading figure in the Church League for Women’s Suffrage. She died in 1914, four years before the first women voted in Parliamentary elections. The Neilds were a Quaker family whose home was Grange Court in Leominster. They hosted suffrage meetings and offered free accommodation to visiting suffragettes and suffragists from across the country.

“I was determined that the book would present a balanced approach, so there is also a chapter on the anti-suffragists, women as well as men, who proved to be equally determined to crusade against the vote as the campaigners who were in support of women’s suffrage!”

                      25 April 1909 Tree Planting Florence Canning

Hard Work – But Glorious is being printed by Orphan’s Publishing in Leominster and will be out in the spring. Clare is hoping to do a talk to raise funds for The Courtyard at the same time as launching the book, so look out for details over the coming months.