On Women’s Sunday, seven processions began from various points of London and marched to Hyde Park to hear speeches given by the Pankhursts and other suffragettes. More than 300,000 people gathered for the suffragette rally. It was one of the largest single demonstrations ever, up till that time.
“On 21 June 1908 the WSPU staged ‘Women’s Sunday’ in Hyde Park, which was attended by over 500,000. Specially chartered trains brought women from all over Britain. Sunday was chosen so that as many working class women as possible could attend. Over 700 banners in purple, white and green were carried in over seven processions to Hyde Park.”
From Votes for Women’ by Diane Atkinson, Cambridge Educational,1988.
‘We can but offer a tribute of admiration to the wonderful skill in organisation displayed by those responsible for this remarkable demonstration, and at the same time to the management by the police of this enormous crowd. Certainly,Mr Asquith’s advice is bearing fruit. It would be idle to deny, after the object lessons of june 13 and yesterday, that a great many women are for the time being, eagerly desirous of the fraanchise.’ The Times 22 June 1908
‘I am sure a great many people never realised until yesterday how young and dainty and elegant and charming most leaders of the movement are. And how well they spoke – with what free and graceful gestures; never at a loss for a word or an apt reply to an interruption.’
From the Daily Mail 25 june 1908
“What a day was this Sunday – clear, radiant, rilled with golden sunshine! As I advanced, leading, with the venerable Mrs. Wolstenholme-Elmy, the first of the seven processions, it seemed to me that all London had turned out to witness our demonstration. And a goodly part of London followed the processions. When I mounted my platform in Hyde Park, and surveyed the mighty throngs that waited there and the endless crowds that were still pouring into the park from all directions, I was filled with amazement not unmixed with awe. Never had I imagined that so many people could be gathered together to share in a political demonstration. It was a gay and beautiful as well as an awe-inspiring spectacle, for the white gowns and flower-trimmed hats of the women, against the background of ancient trees, gave the park the appearance of a vast garden in full bloom. The bugles sounded, and the speakers at each of the twenty platforms began their addresses ….
We felt that we had answered the challenge in Mr Gladstone’s declaration that “power belongs to the masses,” and that through this power the Government could be influenced; so it was with real hope that we despatched a copy of the resolution to the Prime Minister, asking him what answer the Government would make to that unparallelled gathering of men and women.”
Emmeline Pankhurst’s autobiography My Own Story (1914)
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