Suffragettes February 10 1914




The Bishop of London paid another visit – this time a surprise visit – to Holloway Gaol on Saturday, and interviewed Miss Marian and Miss Brady, two members of the Women’s Social and Political Union who are undergoing terms of imprisonment in that institution.

In a letter to Miss Dunlop, the leader of a deputation which waited upon him last week,. The Bishop says:

32, St. James’s-square, S.W.
February 8, 1914

Dear Miss Dunlop, – As you were the leader of the deputation which came here last Monday to ask me to visit Miss Marian and Miss Brady, as I had previously visited Miss Peace, I write to you to report the result of my visit.

I am unable to accept your invitation to give my report at your meeting in person, as I am incessantly engaged to-morrow from morning till night, and I might also seem to identify myself by my appearance on your platform with your methods, of which, as I have told you frankly and plainly from the beginning I strongly disapprove. I must also make plain one point on the outset. The power I have by the prison rules of viewing the prison is expressly stated not to extend to interviewing the prisoners, and, therefore, each time I go I have to obtain a fresh permit from the Home Office.

This permit I had no difficulty in obtaining when I asked to be allowed to see Miss Marian and Miss Brady, but it was a strictly limited permit, and on inquiry at the Home Office was found not to include the witnessing of the prisoners being fed.

This time I paid a visit to Holloway without even the half hour’s notice by telephone which I had given on the previous occasion. I appeared at the gate at 10.45 on Saturday, and was immediately admitted. There was some little time taken in finding the Governor, who no notice from the Home Office that I was expected at all, and, in order that I might see things exactly as they are, no telephonic communication was made with the Convicted Hospital by the Governor, who came upon me accidentally in the waiting room, before the messenger bearing the permit had been able to find him.

The Governor and I started at once to see the prisoners whom I desired to see, and passed right through the heart of the prison to the Convicted Hospital in which your two friends are lodged.

We found, however, that both of them were out at exercise, and so the Governor sent a wardress to ask them one at a time to some and see me.

Miss Marian was the first to some in, warmly dressed for her outdoor exercise; I was introduced to her by the Governor, and we sat down in her cell to have a talk, the Governor retiring. She was a little frightened at first, as she had not known what the sudden summons, “The Governor wants you,” had meant. But she soon settled down when she found it was only a friendly visit which awaited her, and seeing that she seemed to enjoy a good talk I spent about from twenty minutes to half an hour discussing many things her. Her friends will remember that she is a voluble and forcible talker. Of course, I asked her about her imprisonment, and especially about the forcible feeding, and we were soon engaged in a most friendly and spirited debate over votes for women and militancy, in which she held her own quite as well as any of those out of prison whom I have interviewed this week. But her grievance was that, just because she was so strong, she was not let out as the others were, and that in spite of the fact that during the last time she was let out she had committed no further act of militancy. She was much surprised and aggrieved at being forcibly fed instead of being let out under the Cat and Mouse Act. She always gave as a protest four or five shouts or screams every time, and this the authorities had previously told me. These, no doubt, were the sounds heard by Miss Ansell, whose cell was close by, and by Miss Brady, whose witness I shall give presently.

She did not look ill, and when I asked her what message I should give her friends, she said: “Tell them I am very well considering,” but at the same time the forcible feeding always makes her sick and she is gradually growing weaker. She did not make any complaint of harshness on the part of those administering the forcible feeding, and her popularity with the officials shows the friendly relations which exist between them. That is a and unbiased an account as I can give of the condition in which I found your friend, Miss Marian. After our talk she shook hands with me, and thanked me warmly for my visit, and I went to see Miss Brady.

She had by that time been summoned in, and was sitting in a sort of waiting-room, but as I passed I was shown her cell, which was very much the same size as those of Miss Peace and Miss Marian. Miss Brady was also dressed for her morning exercise, and looked quite a young girl, with a pale, but full face. She was soon telling me all about her life in the prison, and that she and Miss Marian saw each other at exercise. She often heard Miss Marian shout, but she herself never screamed or shouted – she thought a better protest was absolute silence. She again was aggrieved at not being let out, but, like Miss Marian will not give any pledge not to commit any act of militancy if she were let out, even under the Cat and Mouse Act. She said the wardresses were exceedingly kind to her. She hated forcible feeding, but it did not make her sick. It gave her, however, constant indigestion. I spent about a quarter of an hour with her, and we also shook hands, and thanked me for coming to see her.

I did not see Miss Peace again, but sent her in the two religious books Miss Schemke had left at my house with a message. The Governor undertook to deliver them to her. By this time the head doctor had arrived, a different man from the doctor I had seen on my last visit. I asked him several questions with regard to forcible feeding.

I am forwarding to the Home Office, in a private memorandum, these statements in regard to indigestion which follows forcible feeding, and also a communication from lady doctors who have attended patients suffering from the consequences of forcible feeding.

An now, you will be surprised to hear that I can do, at present, at any rate, no more in the matter. I have fulfilled my promise to see your friends; I never promised to witness forcible feeding, and I could not under my permit have done so; but I have paid two surprise visits to the prison, and have described as fairly as I could the conditions of your three friends, and I am convinced that I saw things exactly as they are, and that nothing could have been “arranged” for my visit. I am sure also that whether the orders are right or wrong, the officials are carrying them out in the kindliest possible spirit, and not one of your friends complained of any personal unkindness.

I cannot conclude without telling you again that you are, in my opinion, pursuing the wrong policy, if you wish to win educated and thinking men and women to your cause. I sympathise entirely with your object to save women and children from the fate which has too often awaited the, and I have fought for that cause in London for twenty-five years myself, but you are, in my opinion, doing evil that good may come, and this not only is wrong, but impolitic. Many of you are actuated by religious motives, but you will forgive my reminding you that God’s will can only be done in God’s way.

I hope still that better conceals will prevail, and when they do, you will find that many who oppose you now will be on your side. – Yours faithfully,

P.S. – I want to make it clearly understood that I can receive no more deputation’s, but any written statements I receive through the post will have my careful attention.

Mrs. DACRE FOX , speaking at the meeting of the Women’s Social and Political Union yesterday, said the Bishop of London had allied himself with the Archbishop of Canterbury and those who were prepared to go on torturing women. The Church as a whole stood indicted while it stood watching the tortures of woman in Holloway. In answer to the Bishop of London’s letter, she called upon him to come to that hall next Monday and be forcibly fed, so that in a practical manner he could give voice to the faith that was in him. The Bishop of London was acting as an aily of the present Government and could not be consulted as an impartial judge in the issue.

The Women’s Social and Political Union issued a statement last night that Mrs. Pankhurst, who has returned to England has taken up her residence at Campden-hill-square, where she will address a public open-air meeting to-night.

THE MORNING POST JANUARY 31 1914 …….. Militants and Forcible Feeding – Bishop of London’s visit to Holloway – Fears not  borne out by facts

THE MORNING POST JANUARY 31 1914 …….. View of the Bishop’s visit to Holloway by the Morning Post

THE MORNING POST FEBRUARY 2 1914 …….. Militants and Forcible Feeding – The Bishop of London “In Blinkers”

THE MORNING POST FEBRUARY 11 1914 ……. The Bishop of London in Disfavour



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