Acland, Broadclyst, Ellen Terry, Exeter, Henry Singleton, House of Commons, Killerton, National Portrait Gallery, National Trust, New Zealand, Octavia Hill, Saudi Arabia, Suffragettes, Suffragists, Women's Marseillaise
Killerton, Broadclyst, Devon. With nothing in my diary for the day, and having noted long ago that I wanted to catch an exhibition there before it closed, I took myself on Friday to this National Trust property a few miles north-east of Exeter. It is one of the county’s largest estates. The house was originally intended to be temporary, but the grandiose mansion planned was never built. The late 1780s Georgian property was extended twice, early in the nineteenth century and again a hundred years or so later. I came across this description of the estate at one point.
At the end of the drive lay the house itself, presently housing three exhibitions relating to the long campaigns for votes for women. A stark reminder of how the campaign could divide members of the same family, aunt and niece in this case, each living on the estate, greeted visitors. The first exhibition was a collaboration between the NT and the National Portrait Gallery, London.
I had not previously realised just how strongly some women felt that they should not get the vote, and I felt uneasy all the time I was in this small exhibition, very conscious how another political debate today, on which I feel so strongly, is dividing households and friends. (My cats are totally apathetic on the matter, so my household is tranquil.)
The other two exhibitions, fashion related to the suffragette/suffragist movement, and more about the two Acland women, left me less emotionally troubled. I could not have been a suffragette, but am equally sure that I would have been out there marching with the non-violent suffragist movement.
None looked like achieving anything, until the World War I when women proved their worth in ‘men’s’ jobs. I actually got a little angry inside as I looked at the changing pictures, some of which are in the slideshow below, showing just what work they had done.
Why did they have to do ‘men’s’ jobs to prove they were sufficiently responsible to vote?
On emerging from the house, I went looking for a snack in the Dairy Café. But it was closed, so I went back to the entrance café, not wishing to take a meal in the main restaurant in the house. After having my soup, I went off in search of the old 1950s Post Office, but reading the notice saved me the tramp over there, though the path looked enticing.
So I went back to the house and started exploring the gardens, which, as this slideshow proves, still had plenty of colour, this early October day.
From there I went further into the grounds. I came across a granite cross, which I have since learned was erected in 1873 in memory of the 10th Baronet who did so much to develop the estate, by 40 of his friends. But for me the main interest was that it was swarming with harlequin (i.e. non-native) ladybirds, scurrying about, never still and occasionally flying off and returning.
Were they enjoying the warmth that the granite had absorbed during the morning? Were they preparing to swarm together to find a place to hibernate? My researches have not got me very far… But some of them came far with me. It was a good fifteen minutes and several hundred metres away before the last one emerged from my hair.
I was keen to leave Killerton in time to avoid Friday evening traffic, but still had time for a gentle stroll in a small part of the parkland, where I met scarcely a soul.
This post has been very long, but here is a slideshow for any reader with stamina for 12 more pictures with details.