South Norwood Suffragist and Suffragette Plaques

South Norwood Suffragist and Suffragette plaques were unveiled on 21 October 2023.

On 21 October 2023 we unveiled two plaques opposite South Norwood Clocktower to commemorate two special women.

The individual plaques, designed locally by Ken Baker, commemorate two women, Ethel Fennings a suffragist, and Mary Pearson a suffragette who lived nearby and were actively involved in the move to acquire the vote for women early in the 20th century.

Ethel, of the Church League for Women’s’ Suffrage was the eldest daughter of a suffragist mother. She was very active in South Norwood particularly during the years immediately before WW I.  She regularly wrote letters to Norwood News, a local newspaper cogently advocating the right of women to vote.  The newspaper additionally advertised times on a Friday evening during May until October when Ethel stood on the base of the Stanley Clocktower and gave voice to the women’s cause.  It has to be said that her younger sisters Muriel, Agnes and Jessie as well her father also contributed to the agitation to acquire the vote. 

Mary Pearson lived nearby.  A member of the Croydon branch of the Women’s Freedom League, she was in February 1908 imprisoned in the second class for nuisance through her attempts to gain an interview with Sir Edward Grey, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.

Local historian, John Hickman, introduced proceedings at the unveiling venue.  He thanked those responsible for acquiring funding for the People for Portland Road project; namely We Love SE25, Stanley Arts and the community for their donations.

In attendance was the Deputy Civic Mayor, Cllr Appu Srinivasan. Sarah Jones MP and Carole Roberts (President of Croydon Natural History and Scientific Society) unveiled the plaques for us. All three talked about these two courageous women.