Suffragettes April 16 1913




As the result of the disorderly scenes which have recently attended Sunday meetings arranged by the Women’s Social and Political Union, the police authorities have not prohibited the holding of further meetings in the public parks and open spaces. The following letter was yesterday sent by Sir Edward Henry, Commissioner of Police, to the Acting Secretary of the Women’s Social and Political Union:

New Scotland Yard, April 15, 1913

Madam, – It has been brought to the notice of the Secretary of State that the meeting held by the Women’s Social and Political Union in Hyde Park Wimbledon Common, and other public open spaces in the Metropolitan area have been the occasion of grave disorder, notwithstanding the presence of large forces of police, and I have advised him that, having regard to the character of the speeches delivered thereat, it is not practicable by any police arrangements to obviate the possibility of similar disorder occurring if such meetings are held. In these circumstances, and in view of the fact that it is the avowed policy of the Women’s Social and Political Union to advocate the commission of crimes, the Secretary of State for the Home Department has directed me to instruct the Metropolitan Police to take such steps as are necessary and within their powers to prevent such meetings being held.

St. Leonards yesterday morning had its first experience of the methods of the militant Suffragists. “Levetleigh,” one of the largest houses in the upper part of St. Leonards, was completely destroyed by fire. The house was at one time the property of Mr. Harvey de Cros when was the member for the Borough of Hastings, and was subsequently in the occupation of Mr. Arthur de Cros, the present member and his family. Some months ago Mr. Arthur de Cros let the property for a period, and it was only a few weeks ago that his tenancy of the place expired. The house was empty. That the outrage was the work of women is proved by the finding in the grounds of a hatchet and “Votes for Women” cards.

The discovery that the house was on fire was made yesterday morning between one and two o`clock. In a very short time the building was alight from end to end, and the large number of firemen who were on the scene were unable to make any impression for some time. Indeed for the greater part of yesterday water was being pumped on the ruins. Entrance appears to have been obtained to the house by means of a back window, which had been smeared with a substance resembling jam, and the latch had been reached. Fire appears to have been started in several parts of the house by means of paraffin and paper, while there was every appearance of explosives having been used. There were sounds of explosions while the firemen were at work, but these may have been caused by falling wreckage. The damage, it is estimated, amounts to between £8,000 and £10,000. Hundreds of residents of the town went to view the scene of the disaster, and the greatest indignation was expressed on all hands at the outrage.

Mr. A. de Cros, M.P., in an interview yesterday, said: “As usual, the Suffragists have aimed at one person and hit another. I am neither owner nor lessee of the house at St. Leonards which has been burnt down, and the loss is not mine.” Mr. Du Cros mentioned that there was evidence of fires having been kindled in every room of the house, so as to ensure its total destruction. He was known, he added, to be an opponent of Women’s Suffrage, as he had voted against it consistently in the House of Commons. He had received many covert threats, and was not altogether surprised when he heard what had been done.



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